Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 3 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV will publish an e-book, Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

Kate Frye, suffrage organizer, 1913


As a lead-up to publication I thought I’d share with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. She was at this time living in Claverton Street in Pimlico and working in the Knightsbridge headquarters of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. It was now nine years since she had become engaged to (minor) actor John Collins. Her father died in March 1914 and her mother and sister, Agnes, now all but penniless, are living in rented rooms in Worthing.

Friday July 3rd 1914

It poured early and then drizzled. John with me to Victoria where I was to meet Miss Arber at 11. Together to Peckham where we canvassed [for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage]. I was quite glad of a coat I had taken for the rain. We had lunch together and back to Victoria.

I came straight in by bus and packed up my things. John arrived at 4 – he had been about all day so I sent him off to pack and then met him at no 11 [Claverton Street, Pimlico] with my luggage and we took a bus to Victoria and caught the 4.30 train to Worthing.

We toiled to Milton St with our luggage – they were surprised to see us so early. Agnes looks better, but Mother looks so ill, I think, and seems quiet and depressed. John has a bedroom at the end of the road. It is ever so cold here.

Joseph Chamberlain

It was in the day’s paper – the death of Joseph Chamberlain. He has been a name only for many years – but I can remember him as a great power – before his Tariff Reform days and the consequent breaking up after the disappointment of defeats.’

Kate (and her father, who had been a Liberal MP in the 1890s, did not support Joseph Chamberlain’s Liberal Unionists. For a  post describing how Kate campaigned for the Progressive Liberal candidate at the 1907 LCC election see here.


See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary









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