Salme Dutt played a considerable part in role in the early development of the British Communist Party but she had been born on 29th August 1888 a subject of the old Russian Empire in Estonia. As Salme Annette Murrick (sometimes rendered Murrik, or even Merrett) and then Pekkala, after an early marriage that ended in divorce, she took an active part in the revolutionary movement that culminated in the 1905 revolution, and suffered exile in Siberia.
Later she lived and worked for a time in Finland where her older sister, the dramatist Hella Wuolijoki (née Ella Murrik) became established in the long term as a writer; she collaborated on a couple of books with Bertold Brecht. There, Hella was afterwards to be a leader of the movement for Soviet-Friendship and a member of the Finnish Parliament and the head of the Communist broad front electoral alliance from 1946 to 1947.
Salme Pekkala met Rajani Palme Dutt (see separate entry) when on Communist International business in Britain; she is supposed to have been carrying jewels as a means of currency! Certainly, as one of the first representatives of the Communist International in
Britain, Salme Merrett attended its second congress in the summer of 1920. Her influence played a great part in bringing about unity among many of the sections that were to join in the formation of the British Communist Party, of which she was a foundation member.
She married Raji Dutt in 1922. From then on, she seldom appeared on a public plat¬form, but her educational and propagandist activity was unceasing.
In 1939, she published “When England Arose”, an account of the Chartist movement.
Salme Dutt not only had her own variant surnames of Murrik and Pekkala she wrote under the political pseudonyms of Peter Allen and Sancho Panza.
A collection of poems, entitled “Lucifer and Other Poems”, was published in London posthumously.
She died in 1964.
Sources: Daily Worker August 31st 1964 and miscellaneous information.
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