The failed attempt to kill King Umberto I by Giovanni Passanante on 17 November 1878 led to a ferocious repression of anarchist movements and indivuduals. It started an exodus to London where political refugees settled into the traditional areas of migration such as Holborn, Soho, and Clerkenwell.
The earliest arrival was Tito Zanardelli after his expulsion from France. Born in the northern city of Vittorio Veneto in 1848, he studied at Naples University where he became leader of the Mazzinian Republican students. Numerous anarchists followed him into London exile since they were no longer welcome in former havens of safety such as Geneva or Paris.
Britain’s laws concerning refuges and extradition remained liberal until the introduction of the Aliens Act of 1905. In the summer of 1879 Zanardelli co-founded the Circolo Italiano di Studi Sociali which aimed at organising and educating Italian workers in London. The club met at the White Hart tavern at no. 17 Windmill Street, Fitzrovia. Having edited the short-lived bilingual newspaper La guerre sociale / La Guerra sociale, he left London in 1881. His brief presence in the capital had been marred by controversy within the ‘colony’ of Italian anarchists - which is symptomatic for the history of European anarchism as a whole.