Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 7 August 1914

TODAY’S THE DAY ITV is publishing  Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette.  Based on her prodigious diary, this e-book 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here. The first episode of the series can be seen on ITV at 9pm on Sunday 10 August – I think Kate makes her entrance in Episode 2 – 17 August.

Leading up to publication I’ve shared with you some entries from Kate’s diary from the month before the outbreak of war. Today’s in the last in this series. Writing up her diary in her miserable rented room in Worthing on 7 August 1914 Kate could not have thought – even in her wildest dreams – and she certainly did on occasion allow herself wild dreams of fame – that one hundred years later YOU would be able to read her life story.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her London flats, her life in a Buckinghamshire hamlet, her love of the theatre, her times as an actress, her efforts as a writer, her life on the Home Front during two world wars, her involvement with politics – and her view of the world from the 1890s until October 1958  – download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. It will also be available  -today –  any moment now – on Amazon.



Through her day-to-day experience as recorded in her diary we can see how the war stole up on one Everywoman. Kate Frye 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 – but has now begun her summer holiday, staying with her mother and sister in Worthing.

‘Friday August 7th 1914

News of British steamer – the Queen Amphion – having been sunk by a German mine – some of them saved, but many including some German prisoners blown to bits. Nothing else official. Rumours of course of all kinds – some to make one’s heart ache. But the admiration of the World for plucky Belgium. A lovely day. Up and did my room – our landlady is so disorganized it is the only way of getting it done before night. Jobs.

Mother went out and did the shopping then I took Mickie out to the Beach 12.30 to 1. Had a Telegram from John when I got in asking me to meet him in London tomorrow. So after lunch I went off to find out about trains and send the answer – telling him to let me know where to meet.

Then on the Parade for a miserable walk until 4.45. Jobs in the evening and sat talking to Agnes. Mother out in the evening. I did not go but sat upstairs. Agnes still in bed and very weak. I felt dead tired. After supper there was a wild rumour so I rushed out to get a later paper. The Germans have asked for an Armistice at Liege. It says they have 25,000 dead and wounded. It seems impossible. The wonderful German army. There could only be an excuse for the Kaiser taking his country to War, and that would be that his army is invincible – that nothing could vanquish it and that he is prepared to conquer Europe. If not the man must be a fool.’ 

And with that decisive opinion we take our leave of Kate – at least for the time being.

To read in detail about Kate’s involvement in the women’s suffrage campaign – in a beautifully-produced, highly illustrated, conventional paper book – see  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.


All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere and are my copyright. An article may not be reproduced in any medium without my permission and full acknowledgement. You are welcome to cite or quote from an article provided you give full acknowledgement.


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