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.
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. 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 a room at 49 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.
For the previous few weeks Kate’s fiancé, John Collins, had been renting a room in another house in Claverton Street but he has now left for the West Country, to take up a position with a touring repertory company. Kate is feeling rather bereft.
Tuesday July 21st 1914
A very close day. Up late and did lots of jobs. Out 1.30 – lunch at Slaters and then to the Office where I worked until 5.30. Walked to Hyde Park Corner, then a bus to Victoria. Shopped and walked from there.
Started writing, dinner at 8 and more writing again. It does seem strange without John. He was arrived safely at Weston.
A most uncharacteristically short diary entry. A sultry day in London, uneventful hours at the Office. I’m sure we all know days like this .Working at the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage headquarters did not involve such a variety of thrills and spills as Kate had enjoyed/endured while organizing for them in the provinces. With the outbreak of war, however, life in the NCS Office would soon be very different – with Kate playing a leading role.
But I’m glad that this evening, back in her lonely room in Claverton Street, Kate felt sufficiently energized to begin some ‘writing’. Not letters, I think – she may have been making a start on a new play.
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