Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 5 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.

KateAs 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. Through her day-to-day experience we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman.

Kate was at this time 36 years old, 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. John and Kate have joined them there this weekend.

‘Sunday July 5th 1914

I felt very rotten from natural causes so did not mind the rain and the wet – it poured nearly all day. I came down late – then brushed Mickie, slept on the sofa in the afternoon, some writing in the evening, and Agnes, John and I went for a stroll about 6.30. Very grey and quite cold. What a change from last week.’

By ‘natural causes’ Kate, as you might guess, meant that she was suffering with her period. In Kate Parry Frye: Edwardian actress and suffragette  I discuss the way that menstruation affected Kate and her close companions.

Kate with Mickie. Photographed on the riverside at Bourne End, with The Plat, which until 1913 was her home, in the background

Kate with Mickie. Photographed on the riverside at Bourne End, with The Plat, which until 1913 was her home, in the background

Mickie was Kate’s dog – a Pomeranian – a type that required a good deal of grooming. Mickie was a ‘theatrical’ dog, acquired by Kate and John in 1904 to appear in the opening scene of a play they were touring. Mickie was adored.

Coincidentally, when Sylvia Pankhurst visited her sister in her Parisian exile in early 1914  she mentioned that during their interview Christabel was nursing a small Pomeranian.

Kate always had some ‘writing’ on the go. If she was not busy with her diary, there were always letters – and stories and plays – all but one of which were unpublished – to keep her occupied.


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


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