Archive for category Kate Frye’s Diary

Kate Frye’s Diary: VE Day 1945

Kate as writer – at home in Berghers HIll

Kate Frye (or, rather Mrs Kate Collins), one-time actress and suffragist activist – and an excellent diarist – spent the Second World War at her home, ‘Hill Top’, in the tiny hamlet of Berghers Hill, perched on the ridge above Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire. Even in this remote spot they were not spared bombing.

On 1 September 1940 Kate noted in her diary ‘German planes – hour after hour – that nasty heavy jerky drone.’ 8 September ‘German planes droning over head – terrific search lights – a great red glow over London – flashes of gunfire and bombs. About 3am things seemed to get quieter and I went to sleep. London had its biggest raid from 5am till daylight – fires, killings and maiming and making people homeless. Most of it down by docks and East End.’ 26 September ‘The sirens went about 12 midnight. German planes have been going round and round for an hour and I heard bombs and gunfire in the distance.’

15 October 1940 ‘Had my bath before 9.30. A raid warning. I could not help thinking of the change from a year ago, when no bombs and a warning put one all in a flutter and now I got into a bath and took no notice.’ 16 October 1940 ‘Evening. Germans had been circling and dropping bombs and then three crumps. I thought our end had come. Folks came from next door and John went out with them to put out paraffin incendiary bomb in The Heights garden. One in our garden by the Woodman’s Hut. I started sweeping up glass and nailing up dust sheet to keep rain out.’ Next day ‘I saw the trees down round the bomb crater. The miracle is we are alive and as far as we can tell the house, except for one window, safe. A great deal of damage to the cottages and to the Kennels [this was a large house owned by Kate’s much richer relations, the Gilbey family].

The Woodman’s Hut Theatre was the local entertainment centre, for it was here that Kate and John staged short community plays. One was ‘a war-time German scene which I am at present calling “Heil Hitler” It is really Brenda Gilbey’s plight visiting in Bavaria.’ Kate had not been impressed by Brenda’s discipleship of Hitler. ‘Heil Hitler’ was staged in the Woodman’s Hut Theatre in January 1940, together with ‘Recalled to Life’, a sketch John had carved from A Tale of Two Cities.

The manuscripts for these sketches haven’t survived, but others have, all designed, in one way or other, to raise morale. One, ‘Go To Pot: a sketch of silly people for silly people’, alludes to wartime conditions, such as paper shortages, as well as to local Wooburn places and people. Another, ‘Babes in the Wood with the Blessed Gerard’, was written for performance by the St John’s Ambulance Brigade cadets, Blessed Gerard being the founder of the Knight’s Hospitallers. The manuscript indicates that over a number of performances lines were updated so that, early in the war, gas was cited as Hitler’s secret weapon but, by 1944, that had been changed by hand to read ‘the pilotless aircraft.’

A third sketch, ‘Time Is with Us’, has as its protagonists two wandering masons whom Kate based on the wooden figures on the front of an ancient building that was once Wooburn’s Royal Oak pub. Through these characters she tells a tale of a witch burned at the top of Windsor Hill, which leads up from Wooburn Green to Berghers Hill. That witch had cursed, ‘As I go up in flames – down shall I come one day in flames to punish you. Bombs – Bombs that’s what ‘twill be.’ ‘If any mother son of you shall be alive until that day or any of the kith and kin of you who stand and laugh shall be on Beggars Hill when Bombs are falling down – then woe to them.’

While John manned an Observation Post and ran the local St John’s Ambulance group, Kate entered, of necessity, into the wartime spirit of ‘make-do-and-men’.For instance, before the war they had often eaten rabbit, a cheap meat, bought from the butcher. But during the war John set out to catch rabbits himself. As Kate wrote: ‘It’s really dreadful work and John has had to kill them’. But she was able to spread the largesse so that ‘all around have all had pies.’ She was remarkably stoical in playing her part in the process, writing in her diary ‘John found he’d snared two bunnies. One dead the other he had to kill. However he was awfully good – got the jackets off beautifully and disembowelled them. I then washed them, cut them up and left them to soak. Cold work.’

Finally, after five and a half years of life such as this, came her diary entry for 8 May 1945 – ‘VE Day and it’s All Over. The wireless has been on and it is so wonderful one is not utterly cut off. John at decoration – what we have in stock and bits of wire and string and a great do and the getting ready to hear the Prime Minister at 3 o’clock.’

Later Kate was ‘on Wooburn Common to see John set light to the Bonfire and try and get some bangs going.’

Back at Hill Top, they heard the ‘relay of King’s Speech at 9pm. He got along well – here and there some terrible pauses. Then the news and description of all the seething masses of people cheering and it’s just fine. What we have always looked forward to and knew must happen one day – even in our darkest hour, but that it has happened is just a miracle. Then to light flood lamp and all walk round and admire and the house did look pretty. John has worked on it. Then cocoa and biscuits and more wireless at midnight and afterwards.’

You can read the story of Kate’s life here. It will make good lock-down reading. Kate’s diaries, recounting her experience of the Second World War day by day, are now held in the Archives of Royal Holloway, University of London.

Copyright

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.

, , ,

2 Comments

Kate Frye’s Diary: Armistice Day 1918

Kate Frye had worked as an organiser for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage from 1911 until the summer of 1915. In January 1915 she had married her long-time fiancé, John Collins, an actor who had for many years been a member of the Territorial Army. Now an officer, John was stationed at Shoeburyness with the Essex and Suffolk Royal Garrison Artillery until shipping out for France in December 1916. He spent the next two years on the Western Front and in June 1917 was awarded the Military Cross. His letters home to Kate are held by the Imperial War Museum.

One of the pages from her diary in which Kate describes her wedding day. It was she who attached the photographs of herself and John

Letter from John 1 Nov 1918

Dearest

So it is all over or practically so I wonder what happens next. Please to look for a flat for us duckie. I am longing now to get home to my dear one for good. Oh, won’t it be lovely.

It is a very wet day and I have been running about all day expecting anything but I don’t think we shall ever move again except to go home. There is practically no great excitement here over this morning’s news. Everyone seems to take as a matter of course. It feels just like the end of a term at School where one does not quite know the time the train goes home or how to employ ones time until that is known. It is a most peculiar feeling. I expect the feeling will suddenly burst out however. I wonder how the people at home are taking it. Oh dear Muzz you don’t know how lovely it is to think I shall soon be home with you. It is almost unthinkable after all these years but it’s going to come true after all. I am quite well and safe and fancy I have heard the last shell burst that I shall ever hear. I am now thinking of getting up some of the plays and a concert. What about my mustache – shall I take it off yet, or when I get home? There used to be a German Captain in this house. He was in charge of a German Dog School and he had an English wife who was here with him. The old party who owns the house says that his wife hated the Germans much more than the Belgians did. They left one Doberman behind a great big wolf dog not a bad party but a bit wild. Well dearest there is no more news except that I do love you ever so much.

Fondest love

John

On the day the War ended Kate was at home in her cottage at Berghers Hill in Buckinghamshire and wrote in her diary:

Monday November 11th 1918 [Berghers Hill]

I was thinking and wondering every inch of the morning, and could not settle to anything. Was cleaning a collection of shoes about 11.30 in my room, the windows were open – I sat up and listened. Boom-Boom-Boom – then a Hooter and then I thought it time to bestir myself and went in to Agnes then downstairs to Kathleen [the daily maid] and out to listen to the various sounds proclaiming that the Armistice has been signed. And thank God for our many and great mercies. Mother was down the hill and had called at the Manor House – the news was all over the green and soon up here – and the remarks of the hill were marvellous. As soon as I could settle to anything I sat me down and wrote to John. Is he safe, and will he really be spared to come home to me? [She eventually manages to buy a copy of the Daily Telegraph] ‘Yes, the glorious news, as announced ‘Surrender of Germany’ Armistice signed at 5 a.m. Cease fire at 11 a.m. The D.T. has news of Abdication of the Kaiser and Crown Prince, and flight to Holland. The whole of Germany is seething with revolution. It seems as if it will be a second Russia.

Sunday November 17th 1918 [Berghers Hill]

A fine day, though cold. Woke up at 7 and went off to Church as a beginning to my day of Thanksgiving. I did wish I could have had a letter from John but I tried to give a whole hearted thanksgiving for our many and great mercies….[After Church] When I got in the Postie has just been bringing me a letter from John, written on the 11th. Oh I was thankful and feel indeed to have a grateful heart. He is safe and well and of course very very pleased and looking forward to coming home. [In afternoon] Mother, Agnes and I off to the special service of Thanksgiving at 3 o’clock. The Church was just packed, every one there including Sir John and Lady Thomas. Such singing and the reading of that wonderful and extraordinary lesson from Isaiah – a nice sermon from the Vicar and the singing by him more or less of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

Kate wrote many plays during her lifetime but the only one published, Cease Fire!, was set at the Front, in a cellar of a ruined house ‘Somewhere in France’, during the final hour before the Armistice was declared. One of the main protagonists is clearly based on John, the character’s military career following the same somewhat idiosyncratic pattern as had his, his deep love for his wife driving the plot. Published by Samuel French in 1921, ‘Cease Fire!’ reads very well today.

You can read more about Kate – and John – in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary  and Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette. Both books are drawn from Kate’s voluminous diary, now held by the archives of Royal Holloway College

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Kate Frye On BBC Three Counties Radio

BBC Three Counties Radio have broadcast an hour-long programme about the suffrage campaign – suffragist and suffragette – in the area that they cover. Kate Frye, who lived at Bourne End, was selected as Buckinghamshire’s representative – and the programme includes several quotations from her diaries.

You can listen to the programme here

And read all about Kate –

See here for details –

See here for details

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: Celebrating The Centenary Of The Representation Of The People Act, 6 February 2018

Well, 6 February 2018 was well and truly celebrated. I’m not sure if I ever remember the media getting behind another political anniversary with such verve  – the coverage was akin to that of a royal wedding. All the talking heads that could talk, talked.

You can catch me talking about the suffrage campaign on Woman’s Hour

And talking about my new book, Art and Suffrage: a biographical dictionary of suffrage artists  on the Robert Elms Show on Radio London (starting at c. 2hrs 37 mins)

Kate Frye, whose diaries I edited as Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Frye’s suffrage diary and whose biography I wrote as Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette, had a starring role on BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme (from c 23mins) – preceded by an excellent exposition of the Representation of the People Act 1918 by Dr Mari Takayanagi (from c 18.40 mins)

Kate Frye also featured in yesterday’s special suffrage edition of StylistShe would have been amazed and thrilled to think of her daily round being immortalised in this way.

I also gave interviews to Radio Stoke, Radio Northampton, Radio Bristol, Radio Sheffield, Radio Lincolnshire, and Radio Derby – talking about suffrage activists in their areas.

Clare Balding’s programme Secrets of a Suffragette – about Emily Wilding Davison – in which I make an appearance – was shown again last night on Channel 4 and is available for 29 days on catch-up.

And, in my dealing capacity, I put together this list of the Top Twenty Collectable Suffrage Antiques for an antiques website.

What a day!

1 Comment

Suffrage Stories/Kate Frye’s Diary: Farewell to Kate Parry Frye: Diarist, Suffragist, Actress, Playwright – And Friend

The entry in Kate's diary for 'Black Friday'

The entry in Kate’s diary for ‘Black Friday’ – the suffrage ‘battle’ in Parliament Square on 18 November 1910.

Today is the day that I part company with Kate Frye – at least in a physical sense.

Waiting collection in the hall are the 18 boxes that hold her extensive diary that runs from the late 1890s to 1958, her notebooks containing lists of all the plays she saw and concerts she attended (at least from the 1890s to 1914), the books in which, as a teenager, she wrote at length her critique of books read, her notebook listing the names of all her dolls – and there were very many – and who had given each one to her, her photographs – covering the 1880s to the 1950s – her family letters, flyers relating to her father’s parliamentary career, and the numerous plays she wrote.

After 7 years in my care Kate is finding a new – and, I hope, permanent – home in the Archive of Royal Holloway College. There her diaries and associated archive will be available to anyone who wants to understand what it was like to be a woman living through the last couple of decades of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. I am sure Kate would be delighted to rest in a seat of higher learning. One of her great regrets was that she did not receive a decent education:   ‘I do not understand why I was born if I wasn’t to be educated’ she wrote in her diary in 1914.

When I brought home a carload of dripping wet boxes packed with Kate’s life-long diary and laid them out on the kitchen floor to dry (for they had been stored in an extremely damp cellar) I had no idea that she would take over my life. From associated ephemera I could see that this diarist, Kate Parry Frye, had had some association with the suffrage campaign but it was only once I started reading that I realised what a unique view she gave. Unsullied by hindsight this was a contemporary account like no other of what it was like to work as an organiser for the constitutional suffrage campaign.

Kate Frye coverAnd out of this came a book Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary (see here for details).  It is a salutary corrective to a popularly-held idea that the suffrage campaign was all chaining oneself to railings, throwing stones, falling under horses, or being forcibly fed. Kate’s account is equally heroic in its way – travelling from town to town with no cheerful companion to share the adventure, having to find yet another set of digs and then fitting in with the peculiarities of each, braving the locals to find a chairman/woman for a meeting, organizing a printer, a bill poster, possibly the police if the meeting was likely to be rowdy. And then worrying if the speaker would turn up, would be heard if she did, if an audience would turn out, and worrying what to do  if the local youth disrupted the meeting. And so it went on, month after month. Kate relates it all, day by day. We can be there with her.

Obviously I read far more of the diary than the suffrage years in order to get the background to Kate’s campaigning years and was then delighted to be given the opportunity by ITV to write the story of Kate’s entire life. For Kate, played by Romola Garai (whose voice I now hear as I read Kate’s words), had played a small part in an ITV feature to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War – The Great War: The People’s Story.  The result was Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette (see here for details – you can read Kate’s life for a mere £1.19 – what good value!).  For, yes, in her ’20s Kate had fulfilled her ambition and taken to the stage.. ..another story to be told among so many others packed into one life…the cradle to grave story. Indeed I’ve stalked Kate’s life and seen the place where she was born, the the house where she grew up, the digs she stayed in, and have stood by her grave.

cover e-book

Way back in the 1960s, while I was at university studying history and politics,  there was no kind of book I liked better than an autobiography whose subject had had a Victorian or Edwardian upbringing. Books such as Gwen Raverat’s Period Piece,  or Emily Lutyens’ Blessed Girl, or Mary Clive, Christmas with the Savages,  or Molly Hughes, A London Child of the 1870s. It’s extraordinary to think that we are as far away – or as close – now to the 1960s as the 1960s were to the Edwardian period. For surely there is less difference between a 1960s and a 2010s childhood (apart from electronic gadgetry) than there was between 1910 and 1960?

Kate Frye photographed in 1896

Kate Frye photographed in 1896

Anyway, Kate’s diary gives a peephole into a late-Victorian childhood – in a family that was hoping to be upwardly socially mobile. Kate, even as a young girl, innocently comments on what we can see as gradations of the class system within her extended family. The Fryes finances proved to be desperately insecure – and so Kate experienced both what appears to be careless wealth and then grinding poverty – all the while having to keep up appearances. As the years go by, the lines harden. As an elderly woman she returns to All Saints Road in north Kensington and marvels that as a child she lived there, in a flat above her father’s shop.

And so it goes on ….I hope Kate’s life will provide a wealth of interest to some fortunate researchers. And, by the way, her published play, Cease Fire! – is set on the Western Front in the hour before the Armistice on 11 November 1918. Wouldn’t it be just the thing to include in a centenary commemoration?

Copyright

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.

1 Comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: Christmas 1897 – A True Victorian Christmas

By the summer of 1897 alterations had been made to The Plat, the house leased by Frederick Frye on the banks of the river Thames at Bourne End. It was substantially expanded, acquiring two circular-roofed turrets which housed additional reception and bed rooms. Now, for the first time, the family – Frederick, his wife, Kezia, and their daughters, Agnes and Kate  – were to spend Christmas there. In past years they had come down from London to stay for Christmas at the much grander home of Aunt Agnes Gilbey at Wooburn – a short distance from Bourne End. On these occasions Kate Frye had moaned in her diary about the boredom she had endured but now, in 1897, she was at last able to enjoy a Christmas untrammelled by another family’s conventions.

Frye's xmas card 1897 inside

The transformation of ‘The Plat’ – the star of the Fryes’ 1897 Christmas card

Frye's xmas card 1897 outside

 

Kate Frye photographed in 1896

Kate Frye photographed in 1896

From Kate Frye’s diary

Wednesday December 22nd 1897

I have bought Mother a jolly purse and today I have bought Agnes a silver thimble in a case – a thing she very much wants. Daddie a splendid pocket book – a real beauty and a pair of braces. The servants – Cook a purse – Emily a writing case – Alice a work case and Lotty Grey, the new microbe [such was the epithet Kate used at this time for the ‘tweenie’ maid] a silk neck handkerchief.  Mother has  bought Agnes a gilt chain purse by special request and me by desire a travelling case holding boot cleaning appliances, brown and white cream and brushes and leather. [We have bought] 10 shillings’ worth of toys from Aunt Anne’s [charity] bazaar for our Tree – a fairy for the top – glass balls amd birds – drums – trumpets and penny toys of all kinds and many more little things. Small hampers and drums filled with cottons, needles etc for the Servants as extras.

Thursday December 23rd 1897

Directly after lunch Agnes and I started on the Christmas Tree. It is such a beauty and touches the Drawing Room ceiling. We did up part of the presents – the principal ones in coloured papers. Just as we were in the midst of it Constance and Katie [daughters of Aunt Agnes Gilbey] arrived down – we just let them peep in the room which was in a fine muddle. .. Aunt Agnes’ presents arrived in the evening – a huge lampshade for Mother and two pairs of silk stockings each for Agnes and I – such beauties – couldn’t have chosen anything nicer. We were obliged to look at them – then wrapped them up for the Tree. We allowed Mother in the room but she didn’t assist but Daddie we couldn’t allow in much to his annoyance really. The Tree looks lovely – it ought to be a huge success. I have never seen one look nicer and it is simply crammed with things.

Friday December 24th 1897

Christmas Eve

It was a beautiful morning though still most bitterly cold – ever so many degrees of frost – and we went out – the three of us – to try to get warm – the house is icy. It was very foggy early but the sun broke through and it was lovely..Then went up to Cores End for Mother to go and see old Mrs Nicholls and leave her Christmas present. Directly after lunch the three of us started decorating till four o’clock. Pratt [the gardener] cut up the Holly and we put it and lots of mistletoe up everywhere – except Daddie’s room – he is most disagreeable just now.  Our turkeys haven’t arrived – they were to come from Leverett and Fryes at Finchley with lots of other foods. [Leverett and Frye was Frederick Frye’s grocery firm.]

[The Fryes’ rather glamorous friends, Norman and Stella Richardson, arrived from London to stay for the festivities.] Norman has brought us two lovely boxes of Fuller’s sweets and also presented his and Stella’s Christmas present to us in the evening. His is a silver backed manicure rubber each to Agnes and I and Stella’s a work bag made by herself each – such nice ones. Of course we won’t let them see the Tree – they are very funny over it and pretend to be very curious. We were all very jolly in the evening except Daddie.

Saturday December 25th 1897

Christmas Day

Agnes and I were called at a quarter to seven and got up and went to early service at St Mark’s Church. There were not many people. It was bitterly cold and very foggy. We didn’t have breakfast till about 9.30 as Mother and Daddie were late. Norman was down before we got in and Emi soon after but Stella of course had her breakfast in bed and had a fire to get up by. Mother, Emi and I walked to Wooburn Church for morning service – Agnes would hve liked to go with us but went for a walk to Maidenhead with Stella and Norman  – they were to see Mrs Quare and came back to lunch in a fly.

We met Katie just as we were going in Church so she made us go up to Aunt Agnes’ pew as only she, Aunt Agnes and Constance came to Church. I did enjoy the service – it was so bright and I think the Vicar is so nice. It was quite like old times and I felt we must be staying with them  – especially as we walked up the hill with them after Church. It was simply lovely up there – no fog and perfect sunshine – quite thawing the frost on the treees it was so hot. We saw Southard and Gilbert [Gilbey] who has not been at all well – then Aunt Anne [a sister of Agnes Gilbey and Kezia Frye, Kate’s mother] came in – we had already met her on her way to Chapple [sic]. Then after a chat and inspection of everyone’s presents we came away home. Met Mrs Southard & Henry and Lola and her maid walking up the Hill. They had just got back from Marlow where they drive to church.

We had a quiet afternoon round the fire in the Morning Room – can’t let anyone in the Drawing Room as the Tree is there. I slipped off after tea to finish it all off. We have got up fair fun and excitement over it – and made them all curious. We were all very merry at dinner – except Daddie who is still seedy – although we had no Turkey. Had a pair of our own fowls killed as they have not arrived – I don’t like Christmas dinner without Turkeys – but we had the Pudding, mince pies and crackers alright. Then came the Christmas Tree which was a huge success and we all went quite mad.

The Drawing Room at the Plat. I wonder where the Christmas Tree stood in 1897?

The Drawing Room at the Plat. I wonder where the Christmas Tree stood in 1897?

We had the servants in at the beginning and gave them their presents – Pratt has had a splendid knife off it. We played all the musical instruments and with all the toys. Then after we had carted our things away we went in the Morning Room again in the warm. Daddie went to his room and went early to bed – he has given the servants each a present of money. We had snap dragon later on but I got most fearfully tired and was glad to go to bed. We all went off about 11.30.

The Plat - the cosy Morning Room

The Plat – the cosy Morning Room

Sunday December 26th 1897

We sat in the Morning Room round the fire – the Drawing Room is such a cold room and looks so miserable with the huge Christmas Tree stripped of all its glory. After tea Norman read ‘Alice In Wonderland’ aloud nearly  through to us and we sat round and roared – it is a lovely book I think – most awfully clever.

**

With this depiction of a true Victorian Christmas I wish my readers – in the words of the Fryes –

a

‘Hearty Christmas Greeting

and Best Wishes

For a Happy & Prosperous New Year’

from 

Elizabeth

cover e-book

For the whole story of Kate’s life – as told in her diary – download this e-book  from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal or from Amazon. It would make a good read over the Christmas period.

Kate Frye cover

Kate Frye’s work as a suffrage campaigner in later years is fully covered in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. – for full details see here.

 

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere 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

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories/ Palmisting For The Cause At A Café Chantant – December 1909

December was always a good month for fund-raising suffrage parties.

Cafe Chantant NUWSS Dec 1909 - Copy

For the suffrage movement was not all about militancy and processions. Money had to be raised to pay for the campaigning and for the management of the rapidly-developing organisations – and much of it was done in the time-honoured way of bazaars and balls. Here is a flyer for a Café Chantant organised by the London Society for Women’s Suffrage in December 1909.

The flyer comes from the collection of Kate Parry Frye, where it lay between the pages of her diary in which she describes the event itself.

She was living at home in North Kensington and had already had some experience as a reader of palms at earlier suffrage fund-raising events. On 6 December 1909 Kate wrote:

‘Agnes [her sister] and Katie [Finch-Smith – neé Gilbey -her cousin] arrived about 12.30. I had lent Katie a white dress as she had not got one and she had brought up the regulation white cap and apron and I also supplied the colours. I wore my best. We started off just before 2.30. One bus to the Grove [that is, Westbourne Grove] and another to Kensington and to the Town Hall for the Café Chantant got up for the Funds of the London Society and National Union.

It began at 3 o’clock. Katie left her things in the cloak room and we all went upstairs together. Agnes had to pay her 3/- to go in and for tea but Katie and I went in free. I found Mrs Rowan Hamilton who had charge of the Palmists and she hadn’t got me a table and I would not begin till she had one brought. I had told her two chairs and a table would be required. I had a little spot close by screens – my name up – ‘Katharine Parry’ – spelt wrong of course. I was just beside the tea tables so I could be near Katie till the fun began. We introduced her to lots of people. I hoped she enjoyed it but I think she got very tired.

 Miss Lockyer [she had been housekeeper to the murdered storekeeper, William Whiteley] with a friend came very early and I am afraid did not enjoy herself much. I just spoke to her but could not leave my corner and she thought 2/6 too much to consult me – it was a lot. There was another Palmist ‘Ravario’ and my crystal gazer – Clare Crystal. Agnes and Katie consulted her and found her rather poor. The Wrights were there, of course. Alexandra only a simple ‘Tea Girl’ but she selected Agnes to have tea with her – such an honour for Agnes. Miss Carl Hentschel was a Tea Girl and her Mother helping everywhere and lots of people I know.

At first I could not get any clients – no-one knew me. The first was a man about 3.30 – a funny sort of thing – then a lady, who was so delighted she went out to boom me and she did – for, for the rest of the day, I was besieged. I could have gone on all night. It was hard work but I enjoyed it. I had such nice interesting people – a few made me feel miserable, they were so unhappy – but some were charming – two insisted upon having my address. One said she would try and get me some engagements – a Miss May Oakley. I kept on till 20 minutes to 6 when Agnes dragged me out to have some tea – and John [Collins, her fiancé] came upstairs – he had been taking tickets from 2.30.

So I had some tea and he had a second tea. We had it from Miss Doake’s table as Katie was away. I had promised to go back at 6 o’clock and there was already a client sitting in the retreat. I kept on till 6.30 when the affair was over for the afternoon and we all four went home feeling very tired. John had to be back before 8 o’clock and we were not back till after 7 – so had to rush about and he had a meal as quickly as it could be got and go off.

Leaving Agnes behind, Katie and I left again at 8 o’clock and went by bus to Kensington. It was all in full swing again. The entertainment going on as before and more theatrical and Ju Jitsu displays and heaps of people. John was taking tickets again as happy as a cricket. I had said I would be back 9 till 10 – but I was pounced upon straight away. I had a horrid few moments when I missed my muff but John found it for me.

We worked till I was nearly done and told about 14 or 16 – and 17 to 20 in the afternoon. I had to refuse more as it was 10.30 and I was so tired – though the people came and begged me to go on. Gladys herself honoured me – and she told me that people were giving up their tickets for the other Palmists to come to me. John seemed playing about all the evening and Katie was serving coffee and cakes. There was an auction of cakes – and I bought a lovely Fullers cake. All the cakes had been given and were simply lovely ones. It was pouring with rain and we had to have a cab to the flat. Got in about 11.30.’

Interesting to see that Edith Garrud was happy to give jujitsu displays for the non-militant society.

For more about Kate Frye and the suffrage movement see here:

Kate Frye cover

 

 

For more about the entirety of Kate Frye’s life see here

cover e-book

Kate was very sympathetic towards the Women’s Social and Political Union and was, briefly, a member. She was particularly concerned about improving the life of her poorer sisters and without a doubt would have loved the film ‘Suffragette’.

Suffragette Film Poster 2

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere 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

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: Abbie Frye, ‘L. Parry Truscott’, Ditchling And The Now-Visited Tomb

I dedicated Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette to all those women who, in the words of George Eliot, have ‘lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs’. Since then I’ve done a little to ensure that Kate’s life is no longer hidden and (with Helen Nicholson, Berghers Hill resident and Royal Holloway professor of theatre) that her tomb need not be unvisited – I stood by it myself at the beginning of the year.

Grave of Kate and John Collins - Holtspur Cemetery, Buckinghamshire

Grave of Kate (nee Frye) and John Collins – Holtspur Cemetery, Buckinghamshire

However there are others who feature prominently in her story  whose tombs are most definitely unvisited. Finding myself this week in Ditchling, Sussex, where I knew Abbie Frye, Kate’s cousin and dearest friend, had been buried, I thought, by finding her grave, I’d do something to remark her existence.

However, when we arrived at Ditchling Church – dedicated to St Margaret of Antioch – and I saw the large, well-tended graveyard I did doubt that we’d have any chance of stumbling across Abbie’s grave. But, as luck would have it, after enjoying the calm interior of the church and the scent of lilies,  on the way out I spotted on the ‘literature’ table a typed list of ‘Monumental Inscriptions in St Margaret’s Churchyard’. What a find. My most grateful thanks to the Ditchling History Project – for there, in the index appears Abbie’s married name – ‘Hargrave’.

Page from 'Monumental Inscriptions in St Margaret's Churchyard

Page from ‘Monumental Inscriptions in St Margaret’s Churchyard’ – note the top line

As you see, Abbie – and her husband, Basil – lie in an unmarked grave. Without the reference to its position in this guide (see also its website here) there would be no possibility of identifying it. As it is, you’ll doubtless be thrilled to know that I can show you the very patch of springy turf under which they lie.

Grave of Basil and Abbie Harrgrave in Ditchling Churchyard

Grave of Basil and Abbie Hargrave in Ditchling Churchyard

But who was Abbie Frye/Hargrave? Although she has left a considerable body of published work, unlike Kate she left no diary- but through Kate’s words we can glimpse something of her world and her life.

At the Fryes' home, The Plat at Bourne End. Abbie is standing on the left. Kate sits at her feet.

At the Fryes’ home, The Plat at Bourne End. Abbie is standing on the left. Kate sits at her feet.

She was born Gertrude A. Frye c 1871 in Calcutta, the daughter of Charles Frye, a brother of Kate Frye’s grandfather. Abbie’ s mother, Marguerite Maria Frye, had died by 1881 for in that year’s census Charles Frye is described as a widower – and a professor of music (I think he taught at King’s College, London). His address was 4 Buckingham Road, Tottenham, but his daughters, Abbie (aged 10) and Maggie (8), were by now in the care of his sister, Caroline, and her husband, Basil Hargrave, and living at 3 Havilland Terrace, Defoe Road, Tooting.

The latter, born in 1849, had married Caroline Frye in 1873 and was a clerk in an insurance office. Charles Frye died in 1886, orphaning Abbie and Maggie who by 1891 were still living with the Hargraves – now at 20 Castlewood Road, Stamford Hill, close to Caroline’s mother.

In the 1890s Abbie was working as a daily governess but at the same time was beginning her career as a writer of magazine stories, publishing them under her own name. One of the journals in which her stories appeared was Cycling World.  On Monday December 15th 1896 Kate wrote in her diary: ‘I heard this morning that the Cycling World has just accepted another  of Abbie’s Stories – I am more delighted than I can say and so is she I know. She got £2 10s for the other which is splendid pay I consider. I hope she will do as well by this.’ That £2 10s was very important for Abbie had no money of her own and her aunt and uncle had little to spare.

Kate’s diary is full of Abbie in whose literary career she took a keen interest. Her diary entry for Monday February 14th 1898 describes a visit with Abbie to Paternoster Row – to an agent  ‘Mr Burghes who has Abbie’s two tales to send about. She wanted to see him to ask him about them – so had asked me to go  with her. We were shown into his office where he was sitting writing and he was awfully nice. I don’t know that we did much good by going to see him – but it can do no harm and it may possibly wake him up a bit. He spoke so nicely and was very polite – I thought him very charming – he might have been most snappy one does hear such awful tales of publishers and those kind of people.’

Abbie’s home life was not at all happy. She and the Hargraves were by 1898 living in Sutton, where on Friday 1 July Kate paid a visit. ‘Mr Hargrave came in just before we left – him I cannot do with – such a surly sort of man – I didn’t even want to be nice to him – Aunt Carry I don’t so dislike though no doubt she is a bit of a vixen – but her good man I should soon fall out with. The girls seem just like visitors there and have to be awfully careful what they say.’

Mind you this visit came only a couple of months before Caroline Hargrave was diagnosed with cancer and underwent an operation on at Guy’s Hospital – so there might well have been a reason for the miserable atmosphere Kate experienced.

Abbie continued to live with the Hargraves, nursing Caroline while making a determined effort to progress as an author. In February 1902 Kate wrote that Abbie ‘has been having rather excitements lately. She sent the “The Poet and Penelope” to Fisher Unwin who won’t publish it at their own risk but for £50. Her Uncle has offered to lend her £25 and I have offered her the other £25 – my last money almost in the Bank – but I am glad for her to have it. Of course she will never get it out of this book but it is the only chance for the future I can see for her. I do hope it will be a success for her sake. Of course I don’t expect to see my £25 back and I do think it is good of her Uncle out of his small means to lend her the money.’

The Poet and Penelope was published in May 1902 by T. Fisher Unwin in the UK and by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the US, Abbie using the pseudonym of ‘L. Parry Truscott’. It must have been a sufficient of a success because, in 1903, 1904 and 1905, Fisher Unwin published three more of her novels. With Basil Hargrave, Kate had been instrumental in launching Abbie’s career and, less than a year later, her second novel, ‘When the Tree Falls’, bore the printed dedication ‘To Kate Parry Dear Cousin and Dearer Friend This Book’.

Over the next couple of decades Abbie published a total of thirteen novels but, although in her heyday quite successful, her pseudonym has proved all but impenetrable. A dictionary of pseudonymous writers ascribes ‘L. Parry Truscott’ to some other woman and the Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction mis-states her dates and merely notes that ‘little is known about this writer’. It is only through reading Kate’s diary that her identity and the pattern of her life has been revealed.

Caroline Hargrave died in 1904 and in May 1905 there was a new development.  Kate ‘broke the news first to Mother then to Agnes about Abbie. Mother wasn’t a bit surprised but Agnes was astounded. If I am disappointed it is no use showing it – it is for the general happiness to make the best of it and as I only wish for the best for Abbie I will honestly do any little thing I can to bring about the best.’ ‘The news’ was that the man who, echoing Abbie, Kate always referred to as ‘Uncle’, wished to make his niece his wife.

Although Basil Hargrave was uncle to Abbie only by marriage, he had brought her up since she was a young child. Thinking him dull and despotic, Kate had never cared for ‘Uncle’ but, for Abbie’s sake, was prepared to do everything she could to ensure the marriage was accepted with good grace by the family. She went down to Broadstairs, where Abbie was staying, finding her ‘looking uncommonly well and very cheerful’. From now on Kate dropped the pointed use of ‘Uncle’, commenting ‘Abbie writes to Basil every day and gets Volumes in return. She is going to say “yes” to him when he comes for his answer at Whitsun. I am very pleased people are taking it well for both their sakes. He must be very fond of her and that he appreciates her writing is the greatest possible point in his favour. Now the thing is where can the marriage take place?.’

Marriage between uncle and niece was then prohibited under the laws of consanguinity (and would still be illegal if Basil Hargrave had been Abbie’s formal adoptive father) so advice was sought as to where the couple could go to enter into a legal marriage. On 13 June Kate was at Bourne End when she ‘heard from Abbie that she has given her word to marry Basil but they cannot find out where the ceremony can take place to make it legal. Jersey won’t do, where the deceased wife’s sisters go. In the evening I told Daddie and was fearfully amused at the way he took it. He was pulling up onions at the time and all the while seemed much more interested in onions than Abbie. He said he wasn’t surprised and of course I knew he would not be likely to object and he is going to find out “where” if possible.’

The answer was Brussels, where the wedding between Abbie Frye and Basil Hargrave took place on 2 August 1905. But before then Kate took Abbie shopping for her trousseau, lending her £16 to pay for indulgences, such as new underwear, that were the right of any bride. The cousins thoroughly enjoyed their scamper through the West End and Westbourne Grove shops and Abbie duly repaid the money out of her earnings from her next novel, “Motherhood”.

Chichester House, 11 High Street, Ditchling

Chichester House, 11 High Street, Ditchling

By 1909 the Hargraves had moved from the dreary Sutton house to the very much more agreeable village of Ditchling. In this pretty village, nestling in the South Downs, Abbie, as a novelist, was in her element amongst the bohemian artists and craftsmen who had begun to make it their home. Their first home in the village was Chichester House in the High Street, where in 1910 Kate paid them a visit and in their drawing room listened to a talk by Eric Gill on ‘Arts and Crafts in the Home’. You can read my post about this visit here.

In August 1911 Abbie had a son, Basil Truscott Hargrave. When, in the autumn, Kate paid another visit to Chichester House she wrote  ‘This is a most exciting visit, it seems so wonderful to see Abbie with her Babe – and Basil as a Papa for the first time at his age.’ Abbie was now 40 years old and Basil 62.

Basil Hargrave’s was the first coffin in that grave under the churchyard turf. He died in 1919, leaving very little money. Abbie was faced with the prospect of keeping herself and raising her son, now barely eight years old, on the proceeds of her writing. Sales of her novels were now negligible and it was difficult to interest publishers in new work. In the 1920s she managed to place two novels, one under the pseudonym ‘Anna Hurst’ and another under her own name – ‘Abbie Hargrave’.

Abbie and Truscott continued to live in Ditchling, latterly in ‘Oldways Cottage’. It was on 16 November 1936 that Kate received a letter from Truscott telling her of Abbie’s death on the 14th. The next day Kate wrote of  ‘a dreadful feeling of sorrow and blankness. If my sense of loss is wide and deep what must Truscott’s be – and what of his future. But one feels it could not have gone on – that mounting load of debt and Abbie’s ill health. But my life-long friend – and such a loving one – I shall miss that affectionate interest so very much.’ Kate ‘bought a black hat and some grey stockings’ and on 19 November travelled by train and bus to Abbie’s burial, alongside her husband, in Ditchling churchyard. Dr Habberton Lulham, a Ditchling medical practitioner and photographer (you can read more about him here) was the only Ditchling resident present at the funeral whom Kate remarks. She had met him on her previous visits and there may have been others there whom she did not know and so doesn’t mention.

The following day Kate ‘sent a cheque for £5 to Truscott to begin to pay his mother’s funeral expenses’. However, this gift clearly did not cover the cost of a headstone.

Truscott Hargrave continued to live in Ditchling for a few more years, working for some of that time as secretary to the Saint Dominic’s Press, which had been founded by Eric Gill. He later ran a grocery shop at Upper Dicker

Hargrave shop

 

cover e-book

Download the e-book  from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal or from Amazon.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere 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.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Suffrage Diary: London’s First Zepp Raid 1915

Kate Frye cover

 

Kate is living in Pimlico and still working at the office of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Knightsbridge. The society is now devoting itself to supporting the war effort.

‘Tuesday 1 June 1915

To office and a very busy day. News of a raid on London last night – Zepps – and bombs have been dropped – some deaths. No places mentioned but I know they went to the East End. So it’s come at last. It is a horrible feeling.

I had a quick lunch with Constance [Constance Gilbey, her cousin] at Tudor. had to go back before 2 o’clock though everything was ready for the meeting and it was a packed one. We had it in our Hall – and the speakers were Miss Damer Dawson – on the Women Police Service and Alexandra [Wright] on the Canteen [set up by the New Constitutional Society at the Enfield Lock Small Arms Factory]. I thought the latter did very well for her, but of course she could not be other than herself and a sort of unpleasingness creeps in and after Miss Dawson who was just delightful – well there it was. But the meeting was a great success – though as I told Mrs Hartley it was a Women’s Police audience and not ours.

Cleared up as much as I could – then as Alexandra and Mrs Fausset waited we ended by walking across the park together. We saw A. to her turning and then went on and had some dinner at Arthur’s Stores. Mrs Faussett’s husband is down with scarlet fever and she is very lonely. We walked together to Royal Oak where she got a bus and I continued my ramble to Marble Arch. Stopped on my way to send Post Cards to Mother, and John to let them know I was safe. Of course all our talk was of Zepps – everyone feverish with the subject and none of us too comfortable about the matter. 

Two buses back. A little writing then bed. I couldn’t sleep at first – so read. It been much warmer but a very heavy day.’

zepp raid

For more information on the first London Zeppelin raid see here

 Margaret Damer Dawson was one of the founders, in 1915, of the Women’s Police Service.

You can read about Kate Frye’s work as an organiser with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. – for full details see here.

cover e-book

 For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere 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.

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: 20 April 1915: Condemnation Of The Prattlers For Peace

Kate Frye coverIn April 1915 Kate Frye was still working with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage when it was announced that an International Congress of Women would convene at The Hague. Around 1200 delegates from 12 countries attended the Congress hoping that the women of the warring countries could be organized to exert a moral force for peace. The British government, however, prevented interested British women from attending by refusing them passports and suspending the ferry service across the Channel. The Peace Conference led to the founding of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom but, as Kate relates, the issue divided suffragists.

‘Tuesday April 20th 1915 

Some office work then to finish off the Hall – put things out for Sale etc. I arranged a stall of Workroom things – haberdashery etc. Meeting at 3 o’clock. Afterwards there was a great disturbance. Mrs Cecil Chapman from the Chair condemned the Peace Conference which is to take place at The Hague. I agree with her. How can English Women at the moment go and prattle with German Women of peace when there will and can be no peace until Germany has withdrawn her hosts from Belgium, France and Poland?

At the moment when thousands are laying down their lives for women to talk like that is to my mind showing a tremendous lack of nationalism. We didn’t want to fight – we were totally unprepared – the more credit in one way to us – and if German women want peace let them begin to preach it in Germany. I very much suspect this talk.

However to go back. Miss Wiskemann, who is half German, didn’t like it – and, instead of publicly protesting, she was heard saying things to people by several of our members who are most fiery the other way and told Mrs Hartley we had a traitor in our midst, and Mrs Hartley, never too cool in an emergency, went for Gladys, whose friend Miss W. is – and I’m not sure didn’t go for Miss W. herself. Anyhow Miss W. is not coming amongst us again but going over heart and soul to the United Suffragists who I think are utterly mad and will do our cause much harm by pressing the question of ‘Votes’ at this minute. How can they – in this life and death struggle? If the NCS took that line I should have to leave them. I couldn’t bear it – it’s wicked and selfish and small – nothing matters except we beat Germany – but people are leaving us because we do not press Votes. It is a mad world.’

‘Miss Wiskemann’ was Eugenie Wiskemann, elder sister of the future historian, Elizabeth Wiskemann; Mrs Beatrice Hartley was one of the founders of the NCS, as was Gladys Wright.

Click here to see a short documentary, ‘These Dangerous Women’, about the 1300 women who held a Peace Conference at The Hague in April 1915. These were the women whom Kate condemned as prattlers for peace.

You can read about Kate Frye’s work as an organiser with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary. – for full details see here.

Copyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere 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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: Queen Victoria’s Funeral: 2 February 1901

Proclamation_-_Day_of_mourning_in_Toronto_for_Queen_Victoria_February_2,_1901

Kate Frye and her family were never ones to miss an ‘Occasion’ and as occasions went few were more important in the nation’s eyes than the funeral of Queen Victoria.

Kate went by tube with her mother and sister, Agnes, to Lancaster Gate and remarked on the vast numbers of people pouring into Hyde Park. They then walked to Edgware Road, near Burwood Place, to a Leverett and Frye grocery store – one in the chain owned and run by Kate’s father.

Saturday February 2nd 1901

It [the shop] had all been boarded in – the big round step and the two skylights in front and at the side so there was lots of room and it was quite private. The window had been let to a party – Mr Hunt’s friends took the two skylights – we and another lady had the step – till the five chance customers who had bought the only seats sold turned up then they had the front behind the barrier. Much to our surprise who should walk in but Annie and Guy Gold and later Amy – Mrs Watney – and her son Jack. We all saw most perfectly .

[Kate sat or stood on a box on the high step from 9.15 to 1.15 – it was cold]. Miles and miles of soldiers – a regal soldier’s funeral truly and the most impressive one possible. We could see them coming half the length of the Edgware Road – from the Marble Arch and they looked like some long long wave. The brass helmets then the banners. I never took my eyes off  the coffin whilst it was in sight – as if I couldn’t let our Queen go. Before the body had gone a band playing Chopin’s Funeral March and now ever will the scene come back to me when I hear those sad strains – that to me is the only Funeral March.

Some of the uniforms were magnificent – but the German Emperor had a Field Marshall’s uniform as had the King. I do love the Emperor’s face – he is so striking – I am glad to have seen him. The King looked round our way – so I saw him well – he looked very pale and puffy but nicer than I expected.

 

The funeral procession was making its way to Paddington Station, from where the coffin journeyed on to Windsor – which explains why it was travelling up the Edgware Road. Kate, along with the rest of Britain, was not to be so impressed by the German Emperor in later years. I suppose Kate was surprised to see Annie and Guy Gold because they were members of higher-status branch of the family and would not, perhaps, have been expected to choose a grocer’s shop as their grandstand.

Queen Victoria's funeral

Queen Victoria’s funeral

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

 

cover e-bookCopyright

All the articles on Woman and Her Sphere 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.

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Death Of Queen Victoria: 22 January 1901

Kate, who had just celebrated her 23rd birthday, is living with her family in middle-class comfort at 25 Arundel Gardens, north Kensington.

Tuesday January 22nd 1901

The Queen is Dead. We heard the paper boys in the street about nine o’clock. As I write the bells are tolling. The earth will be a very black place for a few weeks. I am about to undress for bed but stopped to write these few lines first.

Kate's friend Stella would most certainly have ensured that her mourning outfits were as glamorous as these. Kate had to make do with what she had. (Image courtesy of Cult Nation website)

Kate’s friend Stella would most certainly have ensured that her mourning outfits were as glamorous as these. Kate had to make do with what she had. (Image courtesy of Cult Nation website)

Wednesday January 23rd 1901

I looked out a black coat and skirt of Agnes’ to send to Abbie [an impoverished cousin] as I know she has not black at all – and of course could not buy any, poor girl – and one would feel it so much now.

Stella [an older, glamorous, friend, reported that at Whiteleys] the people were standing 8 and 10 deep at the glove counter waiting to be served [with black gloves].

What a blessing we all have a few black garments – it would be a terrible rush to get any made. Last night I took some coloured ribbon from an otherwise all black hat & pinned in a black feather  I had by me –so with my black coat and skirt and a black silk front to a blouse I was quite alright.

It seemed a funny sort  of day – between a bank holiday and a Sunday. [Went with Stella to tea at the Empress Club – new premises] which really are magnificent – a most gorgeous place. [For more about the Empress Club see here.]

[Afterwards they walked along Bond Street and Oxford Street to Marble Arch tube station] I never saw such a sight as the shop windows – everything black in them – even the fancy shops and as for the Drapers it looks too awful. Everyone is dressed in mourning – men with the deepest of hat bands etc – not a piece of colour anywhere – and of course black shutters to all the shops. [A fancy dress party that Kate had been so looking forward to – she had her Nell Gwynn costume ready – was cancelled.]  Our future is a blank. All theatres still shut.

Tuesday January 29th 1901

They were selling little crape rosettes in the streets – as they sell red, white and blue ones on festive occasions – they looked very horrid.

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

cover e-bookCopyright

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.

,

4 Comments

Kate Frye’s Diary: Kate’s Wedding Day – 103 Years Ago Today – 9 January 1915

One of the pages from her diary in which Kate describes her wedding day. It was she who attached the photographs

One of the pages from her diary in which Kate describes her wedding day. It was she who attached the photographs

After an engagement of eleven years Kate Frye and John Collins are at last about to be married – in All Saint’s Church, Hove. No wedding photographs were taken so we have to imagine Kate in her ‘best black frock – new boots, my silk hat which is quite pretty – squirrel coat and muff. Agnes’ present [a gold watch and bracelet] has blue stones in it and I borrowed a handkerchief from Mother. I was wearing a mixture of old and new.’ John, of course, wore his officer’s uniform.

The moment of departure arrived, the hiatus between the old life and the new.

 My Wedding Day and my Birthday. 37. 

 ‘Just after 12.30 Mother, Agnes and I left in the taxi for All Saints Church, Hove. We walked up the Church – Mother and I together and she and Agnes went into a seat. Then I saw John coming from the Vestry. I was only conscious that he looked alright and not nervous. I spoke very, very slowly I noticed, as if I were weighing every word – and I said “obey” most deliberately and carefully. I would have rather had it left out altogether but had come to the conclusion that if I had the Church of England marriage service at all there wasn’t much more objection to that one word than to much of the other. That I still object fundamentally to unequal vows is one thing very sure, but it has been so restful not to have to go and argue with the Vicar beforehand, which I meant to do and should have done if I had not been so tied to the house. He would not have altered it I am sure and it would have spoilt all the joy of the good feeling. It probably sounds lazy. One ought to battle for one’s conviction.’

There was no father figure to give Kate away, no best man to support John and no bridesmaids. It was as simple a wedding as could be. Perhaps one All Saints regular might have slipped in a pew, but otherwise Mother and Agnes were the only witnesses. Did Kate have any moment of regret that hers was not a grand wedding? She had witnessed so many over the years as Gilbey, Blyth and Gold brides, bedecked with satin and lace and trailing bridesmaids, were supported up the aisle by their prosperous fathers. She had inspected mountainous displays of presents, listened to the congratulatory speeches and seen the happy couples depart on honeymoon visits to the Italian Lakes, or Paris, or Switzerland or Rome.  But, if there was ever a twinge of disappointment, Kate did not confide it to her diary. She thoroughly enjoyed herself, taking pleasure from everything the day had to offer.

‘Brighton was all en fête as the King and Queen had come to visit the wounded – and as chance would have it when we were turning off the front we saw a little group of people and finding the King was expected we waited for about ten minutes. Then past they came, the King quite deliberately turning to John and returning his salute. It was exciting and on my Wedding day too. I wanted to stop them and tell them all about it.’

Returning to Portland Road from All Saints, which Kate described as ‘such a gorgeous Church – like a small cathedral’, Mr and Mrs John Collins walked up the short tiled path and into number 58. The winter sun shone through the decorative door panels of art-nouveau stained glass as married life at long last began. ‘I just took off my hat and coat and John came upstairs. And John kept kissing me and I said “someone’s coming” in the old way, forgetting it wouldn’t matter.’ For tea ‘we had a wee cake covered with white sugar and I cut it with John’s sword’ and then it was off to Brighton station ‘to catch the 4.40 train. It proved slow – but it didn’t seem to matter – we just sat and hugged each other – Government compels us now-a-days to travel with the blinds down so it was alright.’

From Victoria they took a motor taxi to the Great Central Hotel at Marylebone Station, where they had decided to spend their wedding night. ‘I suggested we had better not pay too much, but it was really rather nice on our arrival not to be consulted and just taken to the first floor – Room No 123. I suggested to John – my husband – that he could go on down while I changed but he flatly refused so he sat and watched me do my hair and then did my dress up for me.

We went straight into dinner about 8.15 and had nine rather bad courses. Very few people there and the room gradually emptied till we were the last. I was hungry and ate quite a lot. Then we strolled round the palm court where a band was playing but we didn’t seem to want people so we went in the drawing- room.

Then we both said we were tired so I said I thought I had better go to bed – it was then 10. John said he would come, but I told him not for twenty minutes. He didn’t like it but gave in and I went and got the key and went up alone. I was so excited – who isn’t at such a moment?

I undressed all backwards and was only just done when John arrived. Ours was a gorgeous room, the bed in an alcove. We had meant to have a fire, it would have been nice, but really the room was so warm we didn’t need it. I laughed at first. Later I shed a tear or two and John would turn up the light to look at me. Then he saw my tears and wept himself. We did try to go to sleep, but I don’t think John had more than two hours and I had considerably less. But we were very, very happy.’

The bill for Kate's two nights of honeymoon - together with the identification number of their room. Although these items were not inserted into the diary, Kate kept them with her other papers for the rest of her life.

The bill for Kate’s two nights of honeymoon – together with the identification number of the room allocated to ‘Capt and Mrs Collins’9. Although these items were not inserted into the diary, Kate kept them with her other papers for the rest of her life.

The Hotel Great Central is still there – now the Landmark Hotel. In 1919 Kate was to renew her acquaintance with it in very different circumstances when it had been turned into a hospital for officers and John was admitted as a patient, seriously ill with Spanish Flu.

[Incidentally – very incidentally –  it was on the site of the  Hotel Grand Central that in the 1870s and 1880s Elizabeth Garrett Anderson ran her first ‘New Hospital for Women’. It was because the houses in which  the hospital operated were due to be demolished to make way for the new station and hotel that she was forced to look elsewhere – eventually selecting the Euston Road site on which to build what became the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital – see Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery.]

Kate’s wedding day was re-enacted in episode 2 of ITV’s The Great War: The People’s Story (shown on 17 August 2014) – in which Romola Garai plays Kate and Tom Turner plays John.

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here.

Kate

Copyright

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.

2 Comments

Kate Frye’s Diary: Christmas 1914: 25 December

Kate is spending Christmas with her mother and sister in digs at 58 Portland Road, Hove. This is their first Christmas since the death of Kate’s father, Frederick Frye, and very different from the glorious festivities that they enjoyed in the days of wealth and plenty. John Collins, Kate’s fiancé, is in the Army, stationed at Shoeburyness. They are to be married at All Saints Hove on 9 January 1915. Miss Green, who lives in Warwick Avenue, London, and is very well-off, is a very keen and active supporter of the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage.

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Friday December 25th 1914 – Christmas Day

Called at 7 – and off to All Saints Hove for Communion at 8. Such a gorgeous Church – like a small Cathedral – I am glad its a nice Church.

Back again and Mother and I had breakfast together – then leaving dear love [Kate’s little dog – aka ‘Mickie’] for Miss Miles to look after the 3 of us to morning service. Agnes came back for Mickie and Mother and I went on the Parade and met Agnes coming back. In at 1.20 to a Christmas Dinner of hot Roast Beef and a weird pudding pretending to be a Christmas Plum.

The meal was brought to a sudden close by my opening one of the parcels which had arrived in the morning by post. I didn’t know the writing but it was a registered parcel and I found a pair of silver Table Napkin rings from Miss Green for a wedding present. We had so laughed about wedding presents of such a nature that we roared with laughter and I went on reading her letter aloud and then as it was so sad burst into tears. She had once been going to be married on the 4th January but her man had died. Really it was most pathetic. So then we quieted down and sat over the fire and read our letters etc. Nothing from John – when last I heard he was preparing for a Christmas present from the Germans. Dover has already had one – a bomb dropped from an Aeroplane but it fell into a garden and did no damage.

We had a quiet day and my cold came on with great violence and I felt very tired and seedy altogether and not at all Christmassy. I have had £10 from Aunt Agnes [Gilbey] for a wedding present and £7 from Constance [her cousin, daughter of Aunt Agnes] for Christmas and wedding. Mother has given me 5 shillings and Mickie a sponge bag and Agnes a little Jewel Box. Last year this time our Christmas was over  – John was on the point of departure. I wonder how Daddie is enjoying his Christmas – I hope his is a peaceful one.

All Saints Hove - postcard from Kate's archive

All Saints Hove  1914 – postcard from Kate’s archive

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here. I rather think you might find it an enthralling Christmas read.

cover e-book

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: Christmas 1914: 24 December 1914

Kate  is beginning her Christmas holiday. ‘Young Bernard Shaw’ was the son of her cousin, Agnes Shaw (née Gilbey) Shaw. Almost exactly a year later another of Agnes’s sons, Arthur, was killed in France; he was only 19.

The purchases that, with diffidence, Kate showed her mother, were modest items of clothing – mainly underwear – that she had put together as her trousseau. She felt rather guilty about spending money on herself.

 

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Thursday December 24th 1914

Up 7.30. Breakfast 8.30 and packed up by 9.30. Off soon after in a Taxi for Victoria and the 10.15 train to Hove. A crowded carriage – otherwise a comfortable journey only so saddened by seeing in the Roll of Honour killed in action young Bernard Shaw – Agnes’s second boy – 21 years old. Such a radiant young life ended and done with and what a heart ache for Agnes. Got a porter to bring my luggage and walked to 58 Portland Road. It was a lovely day though wet under foot. Agnes [her sister] and I took dear love [her little dog] just to see the sea after I had seen my baggage in – my room is messy and bitterly cold.

We sat over the fire all afternoon. Agnes went out after tea and I unpacked and showed Mother my purchases – I was a little diffident – but it went very well. Then Agnes had to see them. Then to a little needlework. Very tired and bed early. It’s a queer sort of Christmas.

KateFor much more about Kate’s life – as told in her biography, based entirely on her own diary, – see here. I rather think you might find it an enthralling Christmas read.

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: Christmas 1914: 23 December

Kate is working at the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage office in Knightsbridge, superintending the workroom that the society had set up to give employment to women dressmakers thrown out of work by the outbreak of war and the drop in demand for finery. She and John, her fiancé of many years, had at long last decided to get married. The chosen date was to be 9 January 1915, Kate’s birthday. At this time she was living in digs in Pimlico.

Kate c. Christmas 1914

Kate c. Christmas 1914

 Wednesday 23 December 1914

A real busy day at the office getting everything tidied and straightforward for my holiday. Had quite a surprise first thing by a presentation of an Ink Pot from all the girls – so really nice of them. They had given Miss Grey a flower stand – it’s most awfully generous of them. I told Miss Grey later on that I was going to get married and she was very interested and full of good wishes.

Miss Simeon left at lunch time and Gladys who had not come till about 11.30 left at 3.30 – so although I had accepted an invitation to tea up in the Work Room I had to give it up, but they brought mine down – a cup of cocoa and a lots of Scotch cakes made by Miss Grey. The girls were crazy with excitement all day. I had a thorough clear out and tidy up of everything – then locked up – at 5 o’clock. Had such a queer feeling as I came away – like locking my old self within – because probably my old self never will return – if I am married by then it will be so different.

I was rather tired but ate my supper – made up a big fire and started to pack up – had not finished before midnight.

Kate

For much more about Kate’s life – as told in her e-book biography – see here -only £1.19 to download from Amazon . I rather think you might find it an enthralling Christmas read.

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Suffrage Stories: An Army Of Banners – Designed For The NUWSS Suffrage Procession 13 June 1908

An Army of Banners

 

Army Banner Picture1In June 2008 I was invited by The Women’s Library to give a talk on suffrage banners to mark the 100th anniversary of the first of a new style of spectacular processions staged by the British women’s suffrage movement. For it was on the afternoon of Saturday 13 June 1908 that over 10,000 women belonging, in the main, to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies processed through central London to the Albert Hall, where they held a rally.The image above was that used to publicise the procession.

The talk I gave was accompanied by a Powerpoint illustrating all the designs for the banners mentioned or, indeed, the banners themselves. Although, or copyright reasons, I am unable to insert these illustrations directly into this article I have provided links on which you can click to see them for yourselves.

1908 ProcessionAnd what was the reason for the procession?

It was to draw the country’s – and the government’s -attention to the women’s demand that they should be given the vote – on the same terms as it was given to men.

Yet by 1908 the campaign was already 42 years old. Since 1866 thousands of meetings had been held in cities, towns, villages, and hamlets throughout the entire British Isles – from Orkney to Cornwall and from Dublin to Yarmouth. Some of these had been no more than small gatherings in cottages, others had been held in middle-class drawing rooms, in Mechanics’ Institutes, in market places and in church halls –  while many others had been held in the largest public halls of the largest cities of the land. Yet despite all this activity women had not achieved their goal.

At times they had thought they were coming close – when, for instance, a franchise bill managed to jump a few of the parliamentary hurdles. And 1908 was one of those times. In 1906 a Liberal government had been elected – and the suffragists, despite many past disappointments, always had higher hopes of the Liberals. And now, just a few months previously, in February 1908, a Liberal MP had introduced yet another women’s suffrage bill in Parliament – and it had actually passed its second reading – before being blocked. Another failure, of course, but this was the greatest progress that a suffrage bill had made since 1897. The leaders of the NUWSS thought that the time was ripe to capitalise on this quasi- success and show the country how well-organised and united women could be in publicising their claim to citizenship. Incidentally there was also a new prime minister to impress. Asquith had just taken office in April, succeeding the dying Campbell-Bannerman.

The image used on the advertising flyer for the procession was also used a little later on the badge given to those organising local NUWSS societies throughout the country. We can see that the bugler girl is calling her comrades to rally to the banner  – and it was banners that were recognised at the time – and are remembered today – as the most significant visual element of that procession a hundred years ago.

The journalist James Douglas, reporting for the Morning Leader put it rather well ‘They have recreated the beauty of blown silk and tossing embroidery. The procession was like a medieval festival, vivid with simple grandeur, alive with an ancient dignity.’

‘Blown silk and tossing embroidery’- a wonderful phrase – conjuring up an alluring image.. In fact a high wind that afternoon meant that the silk was certainly blown and the embroidery tossed.

And his observation that the procession was like a medieval festival – invoking concepts of ‘grandeur’ and of ‘ancient dignity’ – was just what the organisers were aiming for. The designer of the majority of the banners was Mary Lowndes, a successful professional artist, very much a product of the Arts and Crafts movement, who specialised in the designing of stained glass. A year later she put down on paper her thoughts on ‘Banners and Banner Making’, tracing women’s involvement in this craft right back to the ‘warrior maidens’ of a romanticized – if not an entirely  mythical – medieval past. She lamented the use in recent years of manufactured banners – the implication being that these were carried by male groups – both civil or military – but that ‘now into public life comes trooping the feminine; and with the feminine creature come the banners of past time’ She applauds what she calls ‘the new thing’ – writing that by this she means the ‘political societies started by women, managed by women and sustained by women. In their dire necessity they have started them; with their household wit they manage them; in their poverty, with ingenuity and many labours, they sustain them.’

The NUWSS had actually staged its first procession through the streets of London the previous year – in February 1907.  This had had a startling novelty value – it really was the first time that large numbers of middle-class women had taken to the streets. On that occasion, too, banners had played their part. However February was not a good month for a procession – it was not for nothing that the occasion acquired the soubriquet the ‘Mud March’(for more about the Mud March see here). To be fair – the timing of the procession had been chosen with a purpose – to coincide with the opening of parliament (which was then held in February). However the NUWSS organisers learned from their mistake and June was chosen as a more suitable season for their second public procession.

Instructions NUWSS procession June 1908

Instructions NUWSS procession June 1908 BackThis particular June Saturday was selected because the International Conference for Women’s Suffrage was about to be held in Amsterdam – it was starting on Monday 15 June. This meant that many important delegates from around the world were passing through London and were able to take part in the British demonstration. The other main suffrage organisation, the WSPU – the Women’s Social and Political Union – had chosen the following Sunday, 21 June, on which to stage their most ambitious rally yet – it was to be known as ‘Woman’s Sunday’– processions culminating in a rally in Hyde Park. The two events have sort of rolled into one in the popular memory – but the NUWSS procession was the first of the two. The WSPU, too, carried a brilliant display of banners – but most of theirs were made by commercial manufacturers and, sadly, none seems to have survived.

An announcement that the NUWSS procession was to take place on 13 June was made in a letter that appeared in the Times on 8 May. This was signed by leaders of the NUWSS, including Millicent Fawcett, the president. The letter stated that ‘Professional women, University women, women teachers, women artists, women musicians, women writers, women in business, nurses, members of political societies of all parties, women trades unionists, and co-operative women all have their own organizations and will be grouped in the procession under their own distinctive banners, which have been specially designed for the occasion by the Artists’ League for Women’s Suffrage.’ The letter then appealed both for funds to help pay for the banners and ‘for the personal support and presence in the procession of women who conscientiously hold that every kind of constitutional action should be taken in support of the rights they claim.’

So what was this Artists’ Suffrage League?

It had been founded in January 1907 by Mary Lowndes to involve professional women artists in preparations for the Mud March. Among the founding members were an Australian artist, Dora Meeson Coates, and Emily Ford, whose sister, Isabella, was a member of the procession’s organising committee. The Fords came from a Leeds Quaker family with a long history of involvement in the suffrage movement. Emily was by now living and working in a studio in Chelsea, a close neighbour of Dora Meeson Coates and of other women artists who supported the suffrage cause. The ASL’s secretary was Barbara Forbes, Mary Lowndes’ companion – and sister-in-law – who worked alongside her in her stained glass business.

The Artists’ Suffrage League representatives on the NUWSS committee organising the 13 June procession were Mary Lowndes and Mrs Christiana Herringham. In 1903 Mrs Herringham had been the originator of the National Arts Collection Fund, which made its first purchase of a painting in 1906. Ironically this was Velazquez Rokeby Venus, which in 1914 was to be badly damaged by the action of a militant suffragette, Mary Richardson (for more about this incident see here and here). Mrs Herringham had been a supporter of suffrage societies since at least 1889, and by 1907 was subscribing to both the NUWSS and the WSPU.

In a letter to the Times that appeared on the day of the procession, Millicent Fawcett noted that, besides Mary Lowndes and Emily Ford, other artists involved in the production of the banners included May Morris, daughter of William Morris, and Mrs Adrian Stokes – she was an Austrian artist, Marianne Stokes, who had been a friend of Millicent Fawcett for some years – for instance they were both staying with mutual friends at Zennor in Cornwall when the 1891 census was taken. From newspaper reports it would appear that ’80 ladies’ had been involved in the production of 70-80 embroidered banners that were made specifically for this procession – and that they had been working on them since the beginning of the year.

Amazingly – of the banners made by the Artists’ Suffrage League for this procession many are still in existence – most of them held in the Women’s Library@LSE, with another selection housed in the Museum of London. We are extremely fortunate in that not only have the banners themselves been preserved, but so have the original designs. For in the Women’s Library collection is the actual album in which Mary Lowndes sketched out her designs for the banners, the colours to be used indicated in watercolour, and, in many instances, with swatches of likely fabric also attached. However, the designs that were included in the album are not dated and one cannot assume that all necessarily relate to banners designed for the June 1908 procession. For instance the album contains a design for a banner for the Manchester Federation of the NUWSS– but the Federation didn’t come into existence until 1910.  So I have tried to be careful and to relate the designs to the reality of the banners as described in newspaper reports of the day. There are a few newspaper photographs of sections of the procession but, on the whole, they are not as helpful in identifying specific banners as are the words that accompanied them. The NUWSS missed a trick in that, unlike the WSPU the following week, they did not think of publishing photographs of the procession as postcards.

However the procession – and its banners – certainly did attract columns of newsprint – a good selection of which were carefully cut out and pasted up in another album kept by the Artists’ Suffrage League. In fact a leaflet was printed by the NUWSS containing extracts from the press reports specifically about the banners.

The ASL banners had been on display in Caxton Hall, Westminster, for a couple of days before the procession – and the press had been invited along to view them. The Daily Chronicle reporter had clearly got the message – writing that ‘the beauty of the needlework.. should convince the most sceptical that it is possible for a woman to use a needle even when she is also wanting a vote’.

It was not only the skill of the needlewomen that was remarked on. The Times was always rather loathe to give any credit to the suffrage cause, but was prompted – after its usual weasel words casting doubt as to whether the procession caused ‘great masses of the people to be deeply moved on the suffrage question’-, to admit that ‘in every other respect its success is beyond challenge. To begin with, the organization and stage-management were admirable, and would have reflected credit on the most experienced political agent. Nothing was left to chance or improvisation: and no circumstance that ingenuity or imagination could contrive was lacking to make the show imposing to the eye. Those taking part in the demonstration were all allotted their appointed stations, and every care had been taken to enable those stations to be found with the greatest ease.

It was 3 o’clock when the start was made. At the head was borne the banner of the NUWSS, on which was inscribed the legend ‘The franchise is the keystone of liberties’. Beneath the folds of this banner – which has not survived – marched Lady Frances Balfour and Mrs Henry Fawcett, wearing her cap and gown – the robes of her honorary doctorate from St Andrews University.

Then, as the Times, reported, came all the provincial detachments. The NUWSS could trace its descent from the first suffrage society that had been formed in 1866 – but by 1908 it had been transformed out of all recognition from this first, very tentative, incarnation. Through the 19th century local groups had been formed in towns and cities around the county, aligning themselves with the main societies – in London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Edinburgh.  In 1896 they all grouped together under the umbrella of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. The NUWSS had continued to develop and in 1907 had adopted a new constitution and strengthened its organisational structure. The provincial societies, although they had a measure of autonomy, were given strong leadership from the London headquarters. But it was the London Society, under the command of Philippa Strachey, that was responsible for the organisation of the procession – just as she had the Mud March the previous year.

It was important to the organisers that it should be made clear that the procession was representative of women of the entire country – which was why so much emphasis was given to indicate on the banners the names of the towns from which they came. As a convenient shorthand the designs for these banners used existing emblems associated with the town or region. The Westminster Gazette took the point, commenting that ‘Nothing like them for artistic skill, elegance and emblematic accuracy – to say nothing of their great number – has ever been seen in a public demonstration of this kind before.’

And the Scotsman reported, ‘The most remarkable feature of the procession was the great display of banners and bannerettes. It was said there were as many as 800 of them, and the designs and mottoes which they bore appeared to be almost as numerous. Many of them were effective works of art, and bore striking inscriptions’. Unfortunately few of these local, provincial, banners are amongst those that have survived. They would have been taken back to the home town and were certainly then used in many other local demonstrations – before, I suppose, eventually becoming damaged or forgotten. That is why it is so fortunate that we have Mary Lowndes’ original designs as a record of what has disappeared.

The provincial detachments processed in alphabetical order. First came Bath, then Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackburn, and Bradford. Of these we have no record of either the design or the banners themselves – which were probably designed and made locally.

But then came Brighton. And I know that this Mary Lowndes design really was made up into the banner carried on the day – because it appears in a photograph published in the Daily Mirror. The dolphins were a long-established symbol of the town – appearing in the Brighton coat of arms and ‘In deo fidemus’ was certainly the town’s motto at the beginning of 20th century. The swatches attached to the album design, however, indicate that the colours used were dark and light green and gold – rather than blue that appears here

By 1908 the Brighton Society had over 350 members and as Brighton is close to London the society should have been able to produce a sizeable contingent of supporters to walk with their banner.

 I found this next design particularly interesting, referring as it does to the Bristol Women’s Reform Union  –not a name that will be very familiar even to close students of the suffrage movement – which is why it is rather exciting to see its existence given credence by this design. The society had been founded in the early 1900s by Anna Maria and Mary Priestman from Bristol – radical liberal, Quaker campaigners – whose involvement went back to the very first years of the suffrage movement. The Reform Union existed in parallel to the main suffrage society in Bristol, but aimed to set the question of the suffrage in the context of wider social reform. It finally amalgamated with the Bristol NUWSS society in 1909.

The Cardiff banner (courtesy of Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives).

The Cardiff banner (courtesy of Cardiff University Special Collections and Archives).

Next came Cardiff – one newspaper reporting that the ‘Dragon of Cardiff excited general attention’. There is no design for Cardiff in the Lowndes album it is more than likely that it was made by members of the newly-formed Cardiff and District Women’s Suffrage Society and is the one that has now (in 2016) been donated to the Special Archives and Collection of Cardiff University (for the full story see here).

Next came the women of Cheltenham. The town had over the years proved to be a very effective centre of the suffrage campaign in Gloucestershire. A fashionable spa, the town was attractive to single women of means. In 1907 the town had collected 900 signatures to the Women’s Franchise Declaration – another in the long series of mammoth petitions that had been presented to parliament. The Cheltenham banner has not survived – but a newspaper report does tells us that it bore the motto ‘Be Just and Fear Not’

 The design of this next banner – beneath which marched the women of East Anglia – had been, in part at least, suggested to Mary Lowndes by Millicent Fawcett – an East Anglian herself – whose hometown was Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast  In her report of the procession that appeared in the Times on the big day, she particularly mentioned this banner – writing that it ‘shows the three crowns of the East Anglian St Edmund and a representation of the wolf traditionally associated with the miraculous preservation of the martyr’s head – and the motto – Non angeli, sed Angli’. Many of the elements – the three crowns and the wolf – are still in the coat of arms of Bury St Edmunds. The wording is the reverse of what Pope Gregory is reputed to have uttered when, in 573AD , he was shown some captive British children in Rome – that is ‘Not Angles, but Angels’ – the rewording is supposed to mean ‘Not angels, but Angles – that is, citizens.’ A nice hit at the ‘Angel in the House’

Army banner Picture5 And here is a photograph taken on the day – showing the banner with in front from left to right, Lady Frances Balfour, Millicent Fawcett, Emily Davies and Sophie Bryant, headmistress of North London Collegiate.

For the Mud March the previous year Millicent Fawcett had not worn academic dress –but it had been decided that today it would be worn –  to imbue the occasion with as much dignity as possible .  Next to her, with bonnet, bag and umbrella, is Emily Davies who, in 1866, with Elizabeth Garrett, had handed to John Stuart Mill the very first women’s suffrage petition. She was now 76 and yet was still to be around, in 1918, to cast her vote for the first time. One newspaper reported Emily Davies saying on 13 June ‘It is a great day for the movement, I would not have missed it for the world.’

Scotland was, of course, represented in the procession. Here is Mary Lowndes’ design for the banner – and here is the reality. The black and red, triple-towered castle is as it appeared at the time on the city of Edinburgh coat of arms – with the thistles added  to highlight Scotland’s commitment to the cause.

The next banner of which we have a record is that for Fleet, in Hampshire..I must admit that when I saw the design for this banner in the Lowndes album I was a little doubtful as to whether the town of Fleet would have mustered a contingent for this particular procession – there is no record of a suffrage society in the town at this time. But to my delight I came across a newspaper report that specifically mentioned this banner – which was made up, as shown, in yellow and orange – and with the motto as depicted – ’Delay of Justice is Injustice’ – an ancient proverbial concept – the wording put into this form by Walter Savage Landor. Because this Fleet banner was proved to be ‘right’ I have extrapolated from this that so are other Surrey and Hampshire ones the designs for which are in the Lowndes album

Thus Guildford is just such a one – depicting Guildford castle and two woolpacks – anciently the town’s staple trade– both of which feature on the Borough of Guildford coat of arms today.  A Guildford NUWSS society was definitely formed in 1909 but I don’t think that there was one in 1908. However this area of Surrey was the home of women who were not only committed suffragists – but who also had long association with the Arts and Crafts movement – and clearly the combination of suffrage and needlework was appealing. Christiana Herringham’s sister, Theodora Powell, was the secretary of the Godalming society formed in 1909 – and she was also instrumental in the founding of the Guildford society. The president of that was Mrs Mary Watts, widow of the artist, G.F. Watts

Godalming Women's Suffrage banner (image courtesy of Godalming Museum)

Godalming Women’s Suffrage banner (image courtesy of Godalming Museum)

By the way, a later Godalming banner was worked by Gertrude Jekyll and is now held in a local museum.

Next came the banner of Haslemere and Hindhead – a banner of which we know – although it is now lost – because it was described in the press reports

It bore what might appear the surprising motto:

‘Weaving fair and weaving free

England’s web of destiny’

At least one scholar has assumed that Haslemere – then a small sleepy Surrey town – could not have been associated with the weaving industry – and, as one can so easily do, made the assumption that a Lancashire name with a similar name must have been intended – but in 1908 Haslemere did support a weaving industry – of a sort. It was far removed from the dark satanic mills of Lancashire – but had been founded in 1894 as a branch of the Peasants Art Society – weaving cotton and linen. Haslemere was in fact a haven of an artistic community. By 1909 it, too, like Godalming and Guildford, had its own NUWSS society. The chairman was Mrs Isabel Hecht.

The next banner in the alphabetical procession was that of North Herts, which, according to the press report, ‘declared in black and white that it was undaunted’. To put it more prosaically the banner included the wording ‘North Herts’ and ‘Undaunted’. It had been known as the Hitchin Suffrage society – but became North Herts Women’s Suffrage Association, with Lord Lytton as its president – his sisters, Lady Betty Balfour and Lady Constance Lytton were also associated with the society, though Lady Constance was, of course, much more famous for her association with the WSPU. One of the secretaries of the Association, Mrs Edward Smithson, who lived in Hitchen, had been a founder member in the 1880s of the York Suffrage Society – an example of the dedication that many women, whose names are not now remembered, had given over decades to the suffrage cause.

(Image courtesy of Kirlees Museums and Galleries)

(Image courtesy of Kirlees Museums and Galleries)

Next came Huddersfield. There is a Huddersfield banner still extant, held in the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield. It, too, is a work of art, designed and made by a local suffragist, Florence Lockwood – depicting local mills and with the motto ‘Votes for Women’. This wording might more usually be associated with the WSPU than with the NUWSS, but Florence Lockwood definitely gave the banner to the local NUWSS society. However I rather think that it post-dated 1908 – and was probably not the one carried in the 1908 procession

Hull’s banner, however, probably was – although it wasn’t singled out for mention in any newspaper report. In fact the Hull NUWSS society, which had been founded in 1904 by Dr Mary Murdoch, sent the largest contingent of any provincial society to walk in this suffrage procession. Local members subscribed over £100 to meet the expense of the trip and hired a special train for the occasion .The device of the three crowns is still used today on the city coat of arms

Keswick, too, had a banner in the procession – described as an ‘exquisitely painted view of Derwentwater’. In fact the Keswick society had two banners at its disposal – the one that Catherine Marshall, the young and energetic secretary of the society,  refers to at one point – with no further description – as ‘our banner’ and a private one lent by her cousin’s wife, Mrs John Marshall of Derwent Island. It is possible that it was to this one that the press report referred. The ‘our banner’ one is, I think, the one that still exists, with Catherine Marshall’s papers in the Cumbria Record Office.

A Kingston NUWSS society was formed in 1908 – here is the design for its banner. The swan seems to have been a fanciful device conjured up by Mary Lowndes– the Kingston coat of arms at the time sported three salmon – with no mention of a swan.

 The Sheffield Daily Telegraph commented particularly on the Leeds banner, noting ‘One device with the golden fleece bore the phrase ‘Leeds for Liberty’’ – so we can be certain that this banner was indeed carried in the procession. Leeds had a long history of involvement in the suffrage movement. The fleece, three stars and owls all derive from the Leeds coat of arms . ‘Leeds for Liberty’ certainly has a heartier ring to it than the city’s motto, which was (and is)  ‘Pro Rege et Lege’ (for King and the Law). Annotation on the design shows that the banner was 4ft 4” wide by 6ft 6in high. ‘With bamboo poles and cords complete £2. The lovely blue and gold strips are given by Mrs – Herringham. The owls are silver.’

Leicester, too, had a long history of involvement in the suffrage movement. By 1908 there had been a local suffrage society in the town for 36 years and here is Mary Lowndes’ design for their banner.

After Leicester came Liverpool. The Liverpool NUWSS society had taken its banner very seriously – commissioning a local artist to design it. It is a most impressive work of art – featuring a Liver bird and a galleon and carrying the message –  ‘Liverpool Women Demand the Vote’. The society had opened a shop in Bold St, one of Liverpool’s most fashionable thoroughfares, and in the days before the procession, displayed the banner there. On 13 June members of all Merseyside branches accompanied their banner to London, travelling on specially hired trains. The banner still exists – now in the care of Merseyside Museums.

The next design – that for a banner for Newcastle – highlights the difficulty of assigning a date to a design. Newcastle certainly had a banner in the June 1908 procession – but I am not convinced that it was this one, designed by Mary Lowndes. Newspaper reports of the June procession describe Newcastle’s banner as carrying the message, ‘Newcastle demands the Vote’ – perhaps along the lines of the Liverpool one. Needless to say the three castles do feature on the city’s coat of arms – of which red, white and black are the dominant colours. The design may have been changed, or used on another occasion.

Next came North Berwick. An attractive design – and the town’s coat of arms does includes the ferry boat. I haven’t come across a suffrage society specific to North Berwick, but there were clearly women from the town who were sympathizers.

Next came the banners of Nottingham and Oxford. We know that the members of the Oxford society cooperated with the Birmingham society to reserve seats on a special train and that 85 members travelled to London on the day, accompanied by their banner. Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t appear to have survived.

Portsmouth women, too, carried a banner – remarked on by the press for its motto, echoing Nelson, ‘Engage the enemy more closely’. It, too, has disappeared

We do, however, have a record of the design of Purley’s banner – although I don’t think Purley ever supported a suffrage society – but it presumably formed part of the Surrey coterie – its banner designed by Mary Lowndes. I must say that, although I have been able to decode most symbols on the banner designs, I couldn’t fathom out why this one should have what appeared to be shamrocks across the top. But they may, just possibly, be oak leaves – the Purley oaks – an ancient local landmark – feature in one version of an old coat of arms

Next in the alphabetical order came Reading. And there was a Reading banner – for newspaper reports mention that ‘A dozen women tugged at the ropes of the big banner of Reading to prevent it being blown over’. Alas it has vanished.

Likewise there was a banner for Redhill, and one for Sevenoaks, the latter carrying the motto, ‘What concerns all should have the consent of all’, and for Stratford-on-Avon. All have disappeared.

We do, however, have the design for the Walton banner – again part of the Surrey group.

The Warwick banner was designed by Mary Lowndes. I haven’t been able to establish that the motto has any significant relevance to the town. But it is a good strong message

 By way of contrast the West Dorset design in the album is very faint – the faintest of all. Whether or not it was made up I am not sure – nor whether it was carried in this procession – but it is evidence that even in that quiet rural area women suffragists were sufficiently stirred to request a banner to represent them.

The Woking banner carries the motto ‘In arduis fortitudo’- fortitude in adversity’. I think the design displays a degree of artistic licence – the town didn’t receive a coat of arms until 1930. An NUWSS society was formed in the town in 1910 – and of course the fact that one of its residents, Ethel Smyth, gave sanctuary to Emmeline Pankhurst when she was released from hunger striking, did ensure it some suffragette notoriety.

We know that contingents of supporters from Worcester and York – together with their banners – also took part in the procession – but neither banner has survived.

A large Irish contingent was also present – marching under at least one banner, which I have seen faintly in a newspaper photograph. And with the marchers were Thomas and Anna Maria Haslam, both of whom had been leaders of the campaign in Ireland since 1866 – and both of whom were now over 80. It is an indication of how seriously the procession was taken that, despite age and infirmity, they had made the effort to travel over from Dublin to take part in the procession.

The local societies were followed by a group of colonial and foreign representatives, many of whom, as I have already noted, were passing through London that weekend on their way to Amsterdam. It was, of course, thought appropriate that some women pioneers of countries other than England should be commemorated by this group.

Advance knowledge that this was to happen had irritated one correspondent to the Times, for, writing from Kensington on 10 June, ‘E.M. Thompson’ had declared, ‘A few days ago I found a youthful adherent of the suffragist cause industriously embroidering a woman’s name on a small bannerette intended for the great occasion. Neither she nor I had ever heard of this lady before, but my devoted young friend was quite satisfied with her task, and informed me that it was the name of an “American pioneer, now dead”. Personally I have no particular wish for a vote, but under any circumstances I should most emphatically refuse to march under an American banner in company with Russian, Hungarian and French women, to demand from the English government a vote to which I considered that I was entitled as an Englishwoman. It seems to me little short of impertinence for those who, up to the present, have failed to get votes in their own countries, to interfere with our home politics, and by swelling the size of the procession to help to give a wrong impression of the number of women in England in favour of the movement.’

Army Banner Picture6 I wonder which of the ‘American pioneers, now dead’ was being commemorated in embroidery by that industrious young suffragist?  Banners had certainly been made to flaunt the names of Susan B Anthony, Lucy Stone and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The two former banners are still held in the Women’s Library.

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton one, however, is not with them. It was assumed to be just missing – that is ‘missing’ in a general sense – like many other of the banners. However when undertaking this research, I discovered that in August 1908 this particular banner had been sent over to New York – sent by Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter, Harriot Stanton Blatch, to whom it had been presented. She and her daughter, Mrs de Forest, had been present at the Albert Hall meeting on 13 June. As the New York Times reported ’The most gorgeous souvenir is the “Elizabeth Cady Stanton” banner of white velvet and purple satin that was used to decorate the Albert Hall. The name is embroidered in enormous letters in purple and green, the suffrage colours, and the whole mounted on a background of white velvet).’ As you can see from this report there was already some confusion as to what constituted suffrage colours. The purple, white and green combination was first used by the WSPU the following Sunday – for their Hyde Park rally. But there is no doubt that the Elizabeth Cady Stanton banner was carried in the NUWSS procession on 13 June.

Among those marching with the American contingent were women representing the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women of New York, the organisation founded by Harriot Stanton Blatch in 1906 – and which later changed its name to the Women’s Political Union. Also present were the niece of Susan B. Anthony and the Rev Anna Shaw, who was one of the speakers at the Albert Hall meeting. She specifically mentioned that she and her fellow Americans had not come to tell British lawgivers what to do for the women of this country – they could do that for themselves – but to extend to them the right hand of comradeship in the warfare which they were waging. A statement that was greeted, according to the newspaper report, by cheers.

Australian bannerThe Commonwealth of Australia was represented by a banner – painted rather than sewn – that had been designed by Dora Meeson Coates.  It bore the message ‘Trust the Women Mother As I Have Done ‘, a reference to the fact that Australia had granted women the vote 6 years preciously, in 1902. That banner was given by the Fawcett Library to the Australian government in 1998 and now hangs in Parliament House in Canberra.

As already noted there were delegates from other countries – such as Russia, Hungary and South Africa – in the procession, marching under the banner of the International Delegates – now held in The Women’s Library.

Reports suggest that the banner celebrating Marie Curie, then considered, at least by the women’s movement, as one of the foremost living scientists of the day, was carried by Frenchwomen. This is Mary Lowndes’ design for it.

After all the provincial societies came the Second Detachment –  comprising doctors and other women graduates. I always thought it rather touching that the printed leaflets setting out the arrangements for the day specifically mentioned that there would be robing rooms available at 18 & 19 Buckingham St, just off the Strand, and at the Albert Hall to allow some privacy for the arranging of academic dress.

This group clearly impressed the Times. Their reporter wrote ‘Next marched the women doctors, in caps and gowns, followed by the lady graduates of the Universities of the UK, most of whom were also in academic dress. A brave show they made’.

Harding lunaticsThe fact that women were now being granted academic degrees by many of Britain’s universities was often used in other propaganda material – such as this poster designed by Emily Harding Andrews. (For more information about this artist see here.)

The intention was, of course, to emphasise women’s suitability for citizenship – particularly when contrasted with those whom they considered less worthy examples of the male of the species.

The Liverpool Post and Mercury reported that ‘One of the most beautiful banners was the doctors’; it was of rich white silk, with the word ‘Medicine’ in gold letters across the top, a silver serpent embroidered in the centre, and a border of palest green on which were worked the rose, shamrock, and thistle.’ The banner is now missing – but, quite by accident, I did come across a photograph of it in one of the Women Library’s archival holdings [Vera Holme album 7VJH/5/2/14].

The leading women doctors of the day – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and her sister-in-law, Mary Marshall, together with Flora Murray, Elizabeth Knight and Elizabeth Wilkes were among those walking in this section.

The doctors carried banners commemorating Elizabeth Blackwell, the first British woman to qualify as a doctor –  although she had had to do so in the US. This banner is now held in the Women’s Library collection. The letters and the symbol are appliquéd.  The symbolism is interesting. Instead of the rod of Asclepius (a snake entwined around rod – the symbol of the authority of medicine) here it is entwined around a lamp. The lamp was associated with the light of knowledge and might also be a version of the cup of Hygiea – the daughter of Asclepius – who was celebrated in her own right as a giver of health.

Another banner commemorates Edith Pechey Phipson, who had been a member of the first small group of women to qualify as doctors after Elizabeth Garrett. In 1906 she had represented Leeds at the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance conference at Copenhagen and had been one of the leaders of the Mud March in February 1907.  She had died just a couple of months before, on 14 April 1908, and this banner was obviously intended as a special tribute. Perhaps we could date its manufacture to the preceding two months.  It survives in the Women’s Library collection.

The profession of Education was represented by a specific banner.  The Sheffield Daily Telegraph helpfully described it, reporting that ‘Miss Philippa Fawcett has presented the education banner, with its device of an owl and a small boy climbing the ladder of learning’.  It has, however, disappeared

 But that carried by the Graduates of the University of London  – designed by Mary Lowndes – is now in the Museum of London collection.

Cambridge was represented by a particularly beautiful banner, now on permanent display in Newnham College. As a newspaper reported, ‘’The alumnae of Cambridge University, a detachment nearly 400 strong, were headed by the gorgeous banner of light blue silk which has been designed for the occasion,’ It was noted that these women didn’t wear academic dress – because the university still refused to grant them degrees – and would, of course, continue to do so for many more years. They did, however, as was reported, wear ‘on their shoulders favours of light blue ribbon’.  Mary Lowndes had designed the banner and, as executed, the words ‘Better is Wisdom Than Weapons of War’ (a quotation from Ecclesiastes) were added below the Cambridge device. The pale blue silk had been given by Mrs Herringham from a quantity of materials that she had brought back from her travels in India.

After the Cambridge brigade marched business women. There were:

Shorthand Writers.  The motto on their banner – designed by Mary Lowndes and held in the Women’s Library, is rather cleverly lifted from Robert Browning’s Asolando.  And then came the Office Workers – their banner now, I think,held  in the Museum of London. The Manchester Guardian described its device as, ‘Three black ravens bearing quills on a gold ground ‘

Next came a group of very active suffragists – the Women Writers’ Suffrage League -mustered under a striking banner that had already given rise to controversy,

This is the design in Mary Lowndes’ album. But the clerk to the Scriveners Company had written a letter, published in the Times on 12 June, saying that he had read that a banner bearing the arms of the Scriveners was to be carried and that any such banner certainly did not have the approval of his company. As it was, on the banner, as executed, WRITERS was substituted for SCRIVENERS. A letter from Mary Lowndes, published in the Times on 13 June, insisted that a black eagle upon a silver ground was certainly not the blazon of the Scriveners’ Company – but it would seem that the women had changed the associated wording at some point after the design was made.

women writers bannerThe resulting banner, worked by Mrs Herringham, appliquéd in black and cream velvet, was given by Cicely Hamilton and Evelyn Sharp and was carried in the 1908 procession by them and by Sarah Grand, Beatrice Harraden and Elizabeth Robins. Cicely Hamilton wrote of the banner that it was ‘distinctive in black and white, impressive in velvet, and swelling, somewhat too proudly for comfort, in a gusty breeze’. This photograph was probably taken on a later occasion.  In 1908 among the other women marching behind this banner were Mrs Thomas Hardy and Flora Annie Steele. This banner is now in the Museum of London collection.

Beside the banner advertising their own society, members of the Women Writers’ Suffrage League carried with them another series of banners now held here in the Women’s Library – banners bearing such names as Jane Austen and Charlotte and Emily Bronte. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph particularly noted this one – writing ‘Names of famous women are emblazoned on some of the banners and ‘Emily Bronte and Charlotte Bronte’ are two which Yorkshire women will be pleased to see on a simple green banner’. The addition of a white rose stresses the women’s Yorkshire connection.

Others commemorated Fanny Burney and Maria Edgeworth. The Museum of London also now holds another two from this series – commemorating Elizabeth Barrett Browning and George Eliot.

After the writers came banners glorifying Great Women of the Past. This was an obvious theme – and one that was to be used in later processions and stagings – such as Cicely Hamilton’s ‘Pageant of Great Women’.

These banners have survived well. Most were designed by Mary Lowndes and all were made by members of the ASL. Of them the Sunday Times wrote ‘The new banners of the movement are wonderful. Many of the banners were designed to celebrate the memory of the great women of all ages, from Vashti, Boadicea and Joan of Arc down to Mrs Browning, George Eliot and Queen Victoria. It was an attempt to represent pictorially the Valhalla of womanhood…As the procession moved away it presented a vista made up of wonderful colours, and it reminded one somehow of a picturesquely clad mediaeval army, marching out with waving gonfalons to certain victory.’

Reports indicate that a banner to Vashti led this element of the procession – but no trace of it remains.

Next came Boadicea. This is Mary Lowndes design – the actual banner is now in the Museum of London collection. Boadicea was a popular heroine of the moment – the bronze statue of her riding her chariot beside Westminster Bridge, right opposite Parliament, had been erected just six years previously, in 1902. In December 1906 each guest at the banquet at the Savoy put on by the NUWSS for released WSPU prisoners had been given what was described as ‘an emblematic picture of Queen Boadicea driving in a chariot, carrying a banner with the message “Votes for Women”‘. And by the autumn of 1908 the WSPU was selling in its shops ‘Boadicea’ brooches.

Joan of Arc was another great heroine of the suffrage movement and the idea of the warrior maiden with God on her side was invoked by both the constitutional and militant societies. Joan’s own banner was loved by her ’40 times better than her sword’, wrote Mrs Fawcett in a short biographical essay on Joan published by the NUWSS. The title page of this biographical pamphlet carries the same emblem of the crown and the crossed swords as appears here on the banner. The motto is, of course, Joan’s own.

In 1909 Elsie Howey, a WSPU activist, dressed as Joan and rode on horseback to greet Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence on her release from prison. You can see a photograph of Elsie in that week’s issue of Votes for Women. In 1909 a Jeanne d’Arc Suffrage League was formed in New York and on 3 June 1913 Emily Wilding Davison is reputed to have stood before the statue of Joan that took pride of place at that year’s WSPU summer fair  -before setting off for Epsom and martyrdom. The statue had Joan’s words inscribed around the base – ‘Fight On, and God Will Give Victory’ and these were the words emblazoned on a banner carried at Emily’s funeral 11 days later. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in 1912 the Catholic Women’s Suffrage League’s banner, designed by Edith Craig, had St Joan as its motif and a few years later the society actually renamed itself the St Joan’s Social and Political Alliance. And, it was a version of Joan, uttering the words ‘At Last’, that the NUWSS used to greet the eventual attainment of partial suffrage in 1918. Images of Joan are to be found in the work of many women artists associated with the suffrage movement – Annie Swynnerton and Ernestine Mills spring to mind.

St Catherine of Siena, another woman visionary who combined piety with political involvement, also merited a banner Josephine Butler had written a biography of St Catherine in 1878. The banner was probably designed by Mary Lowndes and is held in the Women’s Library. Siena’s colours are black and white and the lily is symbolically associated with St Catherine

St Teresa’s banner, again designed by Mary Lowndes, is now in Museum of London. She featured also in Cicely Hamilton’s Pageant of Great Women  – as the only woman on whom the title ‘Doctor of the Church’ has ever been conferred.

The banner to a Scottish heroine, Black Agnes of Dunbar – is now in the collection of the Museum of Scotland in Chambers St, Edinburgh. Of it the Daily Telegraph wrote ‘ There was one flag which attracted much attention. It was carried in front of the Dunfermline deputation. On a yellow ground was the representation of a portcullis, and beneath the large letters “Black Agnes of Dunbar” were the lines reminiscent of the defence of Dunbar castle by the Countess of March nearly 6 centuries ago: “Came they early, came they late, They found Black Agnes at the gate”. The banner perhaps should be placed earlier – with the provincial societies – but it fits well here – alongside the banner to

Katherine Bar-Lass – Katherine Douglas – who tried to save King James I by putting her arm in place of a missing locking bar in a door. This event took place in Perth and it may be that this banner heralded the deputation from that town. The banner is now held in the Women’s Library collection.

There is no difficulty in explaining why Queen Elizabeth I should be commemorated among the Great Women with a magnificent banner. Indeed the queen was something of a favourite of Millicent Fawcett who, in August 1928, unveiled an ancient statue of the queen at St Dunstans in the West, Fleet Street, having worked with a campaign for its restoration. She even left money to ensure its upkeep. (For more about Millicent Fawcett and the statue of Queen Elizabeth see here.)

Millicent Fawcett had also championed Mary Wollstonecraft, whose reputation during the 19th century had never recovered from William Godwin’s memoir of her. Mrs Fawcett wrote a preface to an edition of Vindication of the Rights of Woman, published in 1891, the first for 40 years. Mary Wollstonecraft’s banner is held in the Women’s Library.

As is the rich and beautiful banner is to the astronomer Caroline Herschel, the discoverer of five new comets. Lady Caroline Gordon, the very elderly grand-daughter of Caroline’s brother, Sir William Herschel, had a letter published in the Times of 12 June 1908. She wrote ‘I observe that in the woman’s suffrage procession tomorrow it is intended to carry banners bearing, among others, the names of Caroline Herschel and Mary Somerville, thereby associating these honoured names with the cause. A more unfounded inference could hardly be drawn. My great aunt, Miss Herschel, never ceased during her very long life to insist on the fact that she was only her brother’s amanuensis, and it was the glory of her life to feel that she had a real work to do and a province all her own, which was to help him in his arduous labours, and keep worries and troubles from him. She sank herself and her own great and valuable discoveries entirely. All who knew Mrs Somerville (and I was one of them) can testify to the great humility and simplicity of mind which were her characteristics. Her work was done for work’s sake, not for any wish to show what a woman could do. Such a thought would be utterly distasteful to her. To think that the names of these two noble women should be paraded through the streets of London in such a cause as woman’s suffrage is very bitter to all of us who love and revere their memories’.

Here is Mary Somerville’s banner. On 15 June Millicent Fawcett replied in the Times (her letter was dated 13 June – she had taken the time and trouble on such a busy day to write it).‘May I be permitted to point out that suffragists believe that the names of “distinguished women who did noble work in their sphere” are in themselves an argument against relegating a whole sex to a lower political status than felons and idiots? This is quite independent of whether the particular distinguished women named on the banners were suffragists or not. The names of Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth are found on the banners. The inference is surely clear. Lady Gordon affirms that her distinguished great-aunt Caroline Herschel was no suffragist. No one in their senses would expect a German lady born in 1750 to be one. Her services to astronomy were well recognized in the scientific world of her time. Her extreme modesty gave an additional luster to her name. Her chief work in astronomy was undertaken and carried through after her brother’s death and it was for this that she was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828. Mrs Somerville’s case is quite different. She belongs to our own nation and to the modern world, and was an ardent suffragist. She wrote expressing her deep gratitude to JS Mill for raising the question of women’s suffrage in parliament. She signed parliamentary petitions again and again in favour of removing the political disabilities of women, and was a member from its foundation to the date of her death in 1872 of the London Society for promoting the movement.’

 Mary Kingsley, the  traveller and explorer, was another heroine who merited a banner, although no supporter of women’s suffrage.

The Elizabeth Fry banner was designed by Mary Lowndes and was, I know, donated by a Miss Prothero. Although I don’t know exactly who Miss Prothero was, I am sure there must be a Quaker connection. It is now in Museum of London collection. Josephine Butler had died only 18 months before the procession. Her banner is now held in the Women’s Library.

 Lydia Becker was very suitably represented by the pick and shovel of the pioneer.  She had worked for over 20 years at the suffrage coal face – organizing, devising, interviewing, writing, lobbying and speaking. Her banner, unfortunately, is one of the few of this series that is now missing, another being that commemorating a very Victorian heroine, Grace Darling, a figure who features in many of the suffrage pageants..

The final banner in the sequence, a rich riot of colour commemorating other pioneers  is held safely in the Women’s Library collection. The first four it lists are particularly related to Bristol.

After the Pioneers came the artists, the musicians and the actors. The beautiful banner made for the Artists’ Suffrage League itself is now in the Museum of London. Christiana Herringham helped to embroider it – with its motto ‘Alliance Not Defiance’, supplying silks for it that were among those she had brought back from India.

A banner bearing the heading ‘Music’, designed by Mary Lowndes, was given by ‘Mrs Dawes and worked by her and her daughters’ – but has now disappeared.

Jenny Lind’s banner, was carried in the procession by her daughter, Mrs Raymond Maude, who was described as ‘a striking figure in green and white, with a Tuscan hat’ [ I think a ‘Tuscan hat’ was a wide-brimmed straw hat]. The banner was designed by Mary Lowndes and is now held in the Women’s Library collecction.

Artists were represented by Mary Moser, who, with Anglica Kaufmann, was the first woman  to be elected to the Royal Academy. She was renowned as a flower painter –and was paid the enormous sum of £900 for the decorations, which notably featured roses, of a room she painted at Frogmore for Queen Charlotte. These decorations can still be seen – as can this banner, now in the Women’s Library collection.

Angelica Kauffman also had a banner– but it is now lost.

Sarah Siddons’ banner which was carried in this section of the procession is now held in the Museum of London.

As is the banner to ‘Victoria, Queen and Mother’ – which was carried in the procession of Maud Arncliffe –Sennet – who, I must say, I always think of as something of a self-publicist – an opinion not actually belied by finding that she had had, or caused to have had, a photograph taken of herself on the day, holding the banner – there is a copy of that postcard, too, in the Museum of London collection.

After the banners commemorating the heroines of the past came one celebrating Florence Nightingale – then still alive – a heroine in her own lifetime. The banner was carried by a contingent of hospital nurses, marching in their uniforms. The Daily Express  reported that ‘The Florence Nightingale banner received the greatest notice. It bore the word “Crimea”, and at the sight old soldiers saluted and bared their heads.’

As an added gloss I might mention that in June 1908 a bill to allow for the registration of qualified nurses was before parliament –it passed its second reading on 6 July and many leading suffragists, such as Millicent Fawcett, Isabella Ford, and Hertha Ayrton had signed a letter to the Times in support of the bill.

There followed also groups of women farmers and gymnasts, each with their own banner. Women gardeners carried a banner worked in earthy colours – green and brown,  with the device of a rake and a spade. All these now, unfortunately, are lost.

After the nurses came the Homemakers – we can see the banner here – although the photograph was probably taken on another occasion. As the Sheffield Daily Telegraph put it, ‘The sacred fire of the domestic hearth is pictured by the home workers, who ‘remember their homeless sisters, and demand the vote’. Another newspaper report describes this contingent as comprising ‘Housekeepers, cooks, kitchenmaids and general servants’ – and laments that they were not wearing their uniforms. Note also in the photograph the banners for Marylebone, Camberwell and North Kensington.

After the home makers – came working women – working women of all sorts, carrying a variety of banners. These would appear to be plainer than the Artists’ Suffrage League ones and were locally made.

After the working women came the Liberal women, who, as one newspaper reported, bore a banner announcing that they demanded the vote…as well as Conservatives, who were led by Lady Knightley of Fawsley, and by Fabians, whose banner, had been designed by May Morris, with the motto ‘Equal Opportunities for Men and Women.’.

Then came members of the Women’s Freedom League – the press particularly mentioned its leader, Mrs Despard, together with Teresa Billington-Greig and young Irene Miller,  The WFL banner was black and yellow, figured with a device of Holloway, where many of its members had recently been imprisoned, and with the inscription ‘Stone walls do not a prison make’. The WSPU, although not invited to take part, did supply a banner under their insignia – declaring ‘Salutation and Greeting. Success to the Cause’.

Finally, closing the long procession, came the hosts –  London Society of the NUWSS. This is the design for the society’s banner. The banner itself is now in the Museum of London collection

This section included detachments from the various London boroughs – such as Camberwell, Croydon, Chelsea and Holborn. The Daily Telegraph tells us that ‘The Holborn deputation was headed by a picture of some of the ancient shops opposite Holborn Bars, and the words “The old order changeth”.  Enfield’s banner survives and is now in the Museum of London – but we have no design for it so it probably was not one of Mary Lowndes’ creations.

This design for Wandsworth in the Mary Lowndes album has the initials ‘A.G.’ at the side – and I did wonder if these could possibly refer to Agnes Garrett – sister of Millicent Fawcett. It is by no means impossible that she was involved in the banner-making – given that her professional career had been devoted to the designing and making of furnishings. But I don’t know.

Wimbledon was a very committed suffrage stronghold – both of the NUWSS and of the WSPU – and both groups featured the windmill on their banners. Of the NUWSS one only this design survives – but the Women’s Library does hold the actual WSPU banner.

All in all the procession, which was accompanied by 15 brass and silver bands, – one reporter particularly mentioned that hearing the Marseilles being played in these circumstances quite brought a tear to his eye – and the Albert Hall rally that followed, were both deemed a great success. Afterwards a decision was made by the NUWSS to keep the banners together and tour them. It was realised that ‘undoubtedly we have here an opportunity of presenting an artistic feast of the first order under circumstances that make it in itself, and in all attendant conditions that may be grouped around it, a unique act of propaganda.’

They lent out the banners to the local societies, charging £3 10s for all 76 banners or £2 for half the number –with the express proviso that they were not to be used for what was termed ‘outdoor work’..

In 1908 exhibitions of the banners were held at Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham, Liverpool, Camberwell, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Lady Frances Balfour opened those last two – and performed the honours again at Brighton in January and Fulham in March 1909. We can be sure that the local societies made the most of these occasions. I know that when the banner exhibition was held in December 1908 at the Glasgow Fine Art Institute it was accompanied by tea, a small string band and a pianola. The Society clearly expected a reasonable attendance, finding it worthwhile to buy in – to sell to visitors – 200 copies of the pamphlet describing the banners.

Thus not only did the banners allow suffragists to rally round as they were paraded through the streets but they also provided a focus for further conscious and fund-raising efforts that neatly combined a forceful political message with what been described, very eloquently, as the power of ‘the subversive stitch’.

P.S.

Kate Frye was a banner bearer – for North Kensington – in this procession – and you can read all about her experience on the day here.

Copyright

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.

 

, , , ,

8 Comments

Kate Frye’s Diary: Armistice 1918 And Remembrance Days 1928 and 1956

 

John Collins

John Collins

For the latter part of the First World War Kate Parry Collins (nee Frye) lived in a cottage in the tiny Buckinghamshire hamlet of Berghers Hill – on tenterhooks for news of her husband, John, who had been fighting in France since the end of 1916. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery during the Battle of Arras – and, to Kate’s great relief, came through the war unscathed. We can imagine the emotion that lay behind the following entry in her daily diary.

Monday November 11th 1918 [Berghers Hill]

I was thinking and wondering every inch of the morning, and could not settle to anything. Was cleaning a collection of shoes about 11.30 in my room, the windows were open – I sat up and listened. Boom-Boom-Boom – then a Hooter and then I thought it time to bestir myself and went in to Agnes [her sister] then downstairs to Kathleen [the daily maid] and out to listen to the various sounds proclaiming that the Armistice has been signed. And thank God for our many and great mercies. Mother was down the hill and had called at the Manor House – the news was all over the green [Wooburn Green] and soon up here – and the remarks of the hill were marvellous. As soon as I could settle to anything I sat me down and wrote to John. Is he safe, and will he really be spared to come home to me?

[She eventually manages to buy a copy of the Daily Telegraph] ‘Yes, the glorious news, as announced ‘Surrender of Germany’ Armistice signed at 5 a.m. Cease fire at 11 a.m. The D.T. has news of Abdication of the Kaiser and Crown Prince, and flight to Holland. The whole of Germany is seething with revolution. It seems as if it will be a second Russia.

Kate snapped shopping in London in the 1920s

Kate snapped by a street photographer while shopping in London in the 1920s

Ten years later, Kate and John were living in a tiny north Kensington flat. For the past three years, at 11 o’clock on Remembrance Day,  they usually visited the Royal Artillery memorial at Hyde Park Corner – John having been a member of the RA. But on this special 10th anniversary of the Armistice they planned to join in the main London celebration. Kate was determined that she would have a Sunday free from domestic chores in order to dedicate herself to remembrance.

Saturday November 10th  1928 [Leinster Square, London]

A great day of preparation so as to be free for Remembrance tomorrow. So John went out for me and did the rest of the shopping and I first did the usual housework and a bit extra then dinner at 5.30. Shoulder of lamb, onion sauce, potatoes, sprouts, apple crowdies and a large one for tomorrow. Then cleared away, washed up, put all ready for the morning and scrubbed the kitchen. Sat down rather broken – but determined to wake at 7 tomorrow.

Sunday November 11th  1928

I woke at 7.30 and up straightway and J and I both up to breakfast. Up – washed breakfast and off. Train to Westminster – a packed tram and an impossible place – such a crowd. I jumped on a bus to get out of it. fortunately it took us to Charing Cross. We tried Whitehall from top – no good. I was afraid of the crowd – so eventually just off by Whitehall Court and heard the singing and the last post – a marvellous two minutes silence. A rest in the Club – then an hour and a quarter pilgrimage to pass the Cenotaph – again most wonderful. Came on to rain so made for Lyons for lunch in Victoria Street. Then to go through the Abbey past the Tomb [of the Unknown Warrior] and for the 3 o’clock service.

 

Kate in bed - headphones at the ready

Kate in bed – headphones at the ready

Home by bus, raining still – the queue [stretching] from Trafalgar Square. Our dinner – frightfully tired. Service on wireless. Bed – then Albert Hall meeting in bed with one earphone each up to 11pm. A really wonderful day of Remembrance.

Twenty-eight years later, after several years of caring for John at home as he became increasingly afflicted with dementia, Kate was finally forced to allow him to be admitted to the local asylum. They did not have sufficient money to pay nursing-home fees. She recorded the following entry in her diary on the first Remembrance Day after he was lost to her.

11th November 1956 [Hill Top, Berghers Hill]

To Cenotaph at Wooburn. I sat and wept – but tried to pull myself out of the tears. But so sad without John here with me. Remembering all the 11 o’clocks we had heard together.

KateTo discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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  – do read the e-book, Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette published by ITV as a tie-in with their series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. It can be downloaded from  from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  from Amazon.

I’d love to hear what you think of Kate and the life she lived. 

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.

Copyright

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.

1 Comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: Talk at Wooburn Festival, 24 September 2014

Tomorrow – 24 September – I shall be presenting Kate Frye to the Wooburn Festival. I shall be talking about her life – from the age of Victoria to that of Elizabeth – in Bourne End and Berghers Hill – and describing her efforts to interest the area in ‘Votes for Women’.

Kate Frye cover

The talk will be illustrated with many photographs from Kate’s extensive archive and there will be an opportunity to look at other items of local interest from her collection that I will bring with me.

cover e-book

See here for full details of the talk – 7.30 pm at Bourne End Library.

Copies of Campaigning for the Vote will be on sale – signed if you wish!

For full details of both the Kate Frye books see here and here.

 

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: What Was Kate Doing One Hundred Years Ago Today – The Day She Appears On Our TV Screens?

Tonight Kate Parry Frye – in the guise of Romola Garai – appears on our television screens (Sunday 17 August, ITV at 9pm). What was she doing on this day 100 years ago?

Kate was still on holiday from her work with the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, spending the time with her sister and mother in their rented rooms at 10 Milton Street, Worthing. However, this was no summer idyll such as the Fryes had enjoyed in days gone by. Then they had rented a large house and travelled down from London with their four servants, to spend a season by the sea. Now that they were virtually penniless, these rented rooms were all they could call home. In the life of Kate and, more tragically in that of  her sister, we see the jarring disconnect when young women, brought up to a life where marriage was to be their only trade, are left with insufficient money to support their social position and expectations. As such Kate’s life story is very much a tale of its time.

Monday August 17th 1914

Gorgeous day. Up and at house work. Out 12.30-  just to the shops. Wrote all the afternoon  and after tea to 6. Papers full of interest. Preparing for the biggest battle in the World’s History. There is no doubt the English have landed over there. I hear from John most days – that he is very busy but not a word of what his work is. Mickie [her Pomeranian] and I went out after tea. Agnes still a bit limp.

John Collins, Kate’s fiancé, who had long been an officer in the Territorial Army, had already been recalled to his barracks at Shoeburyness – leaving his engagement with a touring repertory theatre company. Kate’s sister, Agnes, at the first hint of the European trouble had taken to her bed, prostrate. Kate, a would-be playwright, was busy writing – although exactly what she was writing at this time she doesn’t divulge. On her death forty-five years later she left behind a box of unpublished scripts – and one that was published. She  hoped one day to achieve fame and fortune. As it was she would soon be back at work at her suffrage society’s headquarters – with a new role as organizer of their War Work Work Room.

Work Room set up by the New Constitutional Society for Women's Suffrage - of which Kate was in charge. Note the NCS flag in the background - the only image of it that survives

Work Room set up by the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage – of which Kate was in charge. Note the NCS flag in the background – the only image of it that survives

Kate

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

I’d love to hear what you think of Kate and the life she lived. 

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.

Copyright

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.

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

NOW PUBLISHED: Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life Of An Edwardian Actress And Suffragette

Kate

 

Based on her prodigious diary, this e-book is my account of Kate Frye’s life and is a tie-in with the  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. Kate appeared in the second episode – which you can now watch here.

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 from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  from Amazon .

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.

It is something of a fairytale – from the discovery of the boxes of wringing-wet diaries in a north London cellar to the publication of Kate’s story, now available for the World to read at the click of a mouse.  It is a dream realised, not only for the Kate I have got to know so well and who through her diary entries makes us privy to her hopes, but also for myself. To be given the chance to resurrect the story of an ‘ordinary’ woman (though she most certainly was not ordinary to herself) is the culmination of a lifetime of biographical reading.  Moreover it is ‘hidden lives’ -such as Kate’s – that have been of abiding interest.

There is a certain fitness that at a time when the major publishing conglomerates tend, for safety’s sake, to concentrate on the lives of those whose names are already known – for whom a market already exists – that it is a television company, ITV, that is taking a bow at a venture and allowing you to read the life of an ordinary woman. Kate, I am sure, would have been most interested to watch The Great War: the People’s Story. For her entire life she was entranced by the telling of tales – in novels, on the stage, on film, on radio and, in her latter years, on television and it so happens that the one play she succeeded in getting published was set on the Western Front – in the final hour of the Great War.

When editing Kate’s suffrage years as Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s suffrage diary I did briefly debate (and did so at much greater length in a post – Kate Frye and the Problem of the Diarist’s Multiple Roles)  the ethics of mining a diary and presenting only one aspect of the subject’s life. I have now been able to reconcile any doubts I might have had. Kate’s suffrage diary undoubtedly adds to our understanding of the suffrage campaign and it is now with considerable satisfaction that I am able to present to you Kate’s life in its entirety.

Coincidentally yesterday I spotted a new blog review of Campaigning for the Vote that not only gives a delightfully long review of that book – but also reveals that the writer is longing to know more about Kate and – at the last moment – is pleased to have just downloaded the e-book and begin a deeper acquaintance.

 

If you are interested to find out more about Kate’s involvement in the women’s suffrage campaign – in a beautifully-produced, highly illustrated, conventional paper book. .In London it is in stock in Foyles, Charing Cross Road, and at the Persephone Bookshop in Lamb’s Conduit Street. and is available by mail order from the publisher –  see  Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary

Copyright

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.

2 Comments

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.

 

Kate

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.

Copyright

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.

 

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 6 August 1914

Tomorrow – 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

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 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.

Thursday August 6th 1914

A fearful wind all day. Up late and household jobs seeing after Agnes etc – out at 12 with dear love, bought a paper and sat in a shelter reading it until 1. There is very little official news, but I think there is no doubt they are arranging for an expeditionary force to go to help France and Belgium. Germany seems ruthlessly violating every treaty that was made and will soon end by not having a single friend in Europe or elsewhere. The Belgians area making a most spirited and heroic defence of their forts – and so far the Germans have had a set back which could never have calculated upon. They thought the Belgians would let them calmly walk through their country to attack France. A nice sense of honour  they must have got themselves. We have the sinking of a German mine layer to our credit.

The reading of the paper and rushing out for the latest Editions has become a vice with me, but I can’t keep away from them. Read in the afternoon, and who should arrive but Stella Richardson at 3.30 till 4.45 and had tea with us. But I felt in no mood for her with her cheap opinions. I am afraid I flared out at her. Agnes was of course in bed all day, said she felt a bit better.

I had a card from John – he has his orders – has to report himself at Shoeburyness on Sunday. Oh dear!!! A letter from Constance full of War news – their men being called up – the younger generation volunteering etc – and Jack Gilbey off to the front. That pretty gay young lad. What a responsibility the Kaiser has taken upon himself to be sure. Oh if only someone could get at him and his precious son and do for them. John thinks banishment to Bacup the best punishment – we want to get him here and hammer him all over beginning with his feet. I have heard someone suggest cutting his head off and making it into sausages for the Germans to eat – and that she would willingly turn the handle. I wonder what history will make of him?

John's card_0001

Johns's card, written on Wed 4 Aug and posted on 5 August from Exeter, where he was playing with a touring theatre company

Johns’s card, written on Wed 4 August and posted on 5 August from Exeter, where he was playing with a touring theatre company

It was ironic that Stella Richardson should choose this moment to call. She was very much a representative of the ‘gay and reckless’ life that Kate had once enjoyed. You will be able to read about Stella – and her husband – and their relationship with Kate – in Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette.

Kate’s diary is certainly a faithful record of events. On the Today programme this morning a naval historian mentioned the sinking of that mine layer as being one of the first naval actions of the War.Moreover,  I think it’s interesting that on a day such as this – with no knowledge of what lies ahead (perhaps, despite what John predicts, the war will be over by Christmas) – that Kate thinks, however fleetingly, in terms of the Kaiser’s place in history. While concerning herself with the quotidian, she is well able to appreciate that hers is but one moment in time. It is this self-awareness that gives the diary a measure of importance as a document of social history.

Copyright

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.

 

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 5 August 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

For ITunes preview of the book 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 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.

‘Wednesday 5th August 1914

Agnes in bed. I had slept in the dark hole and had a fearful night with the cats tramping in and out and fighting in the garden. I tidied Agnes and the doctor – Dr Hudson – came soon after 10. He didn’t say much but keep her in bed – no solid food – probably catarrh of the stomach and a chill – some inflammation. He was nice.

I had begun to think Mother would not have a comfortable journey to Wooburn as the government has taken over all railways and so many men are travelling to join their regiments – all reserves and Territorials called out – and she didn’t feel inclined to go with Agnes so seedy. I went up to the station to inquire and found as far as they knew trains were running fairly smoothly but they could not guarantee anything.

So I came back and she decided not to go – so Mick and I went off again to send a Telegram to Constance. They would not change a £5 note at the Post Office. Wrote some letters and then read all afternoon. A stroll in the evening – feeling utterly miserable. Heard again from John – has not had his orders yet but they must be on their way. England Mobilizing!!! What a thought. Could get to nothing that required concentration of thought – so greased Dear Love all the evening. A strange occupation with England going to War – but like life.’

Copyright

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.

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: War: 4 August 1914: And What The War Held For My Family

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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

Kate Frye c 1906

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 – but has now begun her summer holiday, staying with her mother and sister in Worthing.

Tuesday August 4th 1914

A beautiful day as regards weather. Well it is settled England is to go in with France to protect her and Belgium. What a slap in the face for Germany !!! And as Italy won’t fight with Germany and Austria that is another set back. Germany expects to be allowed to walk over anywhere just as she pleases. What a brutal country – and what a Kaiser!!!

A letter from John from Exeter saying he is expecting a letter every minute giving him instructions to join his Unit. He writes in very low spirits. I think South Africa was enough for him. Agnes said she felt very ill – so I got up and arranged the room and got her up to my room and Mother went out for the doctor. He wasn’t in so she left a note. Agnes seemed better and not so low spirited when I had her in a cheerful room, but oh dear I don’t want the work of it. I feel so tired myself and disagreeable and overwrought I want to shriek.

I went out 12 to 1 with ‘Dear Love’. Read papers all the afternoon, writing and needlework in the evening waiting for the doctor – then as he didn’t come I went round and asked him to come early tomorrow morning if not tonight. He was still out so did not turn up.

This entry from Kate’s diary speaks for itself. That the day’s events – both national and domestic -have left her tired, disagreeable and overwrought seems entirely natural. Who wouldn’t want to shriek?

But what of those who did not keep diaries? Perhaps I’ll take the opportunity on this commemorative day to tell briefly how the War affected one other small family.

My mother, Christmas 1914. On the reverse of this postcard is written 'With Best Wishes for a Merry Xmas From Meg, Tom and the 'Wee Un'.

My mother, Christmas 1914. On the reverse of this postcard is written ‘With Best Wishes for a Merry Xmas From Meg, Tom and the ‘Wee Un’.

On 4 August 1914 my mother, Margaret Wallace, born on 5 October 1913, was one day short of ten months old. She was living with her parents in Edinburgh where her father, Thomas Wallace, was a cashier in a brewery. On 2 December 1915, a couple of months after her second birthday, he joined up, aged 27.  He qualified as a signaller and telephonist (First class signalling certificate )with the Royal Garrison Artillery, was mobilized on 17 August 1916, setting sail from Plymouth for France.

Thomas Livingston Wallace

Thomas Livingston Wallace

He served in France  until November 1917 when the 289th Siege Battery was redeployed  to northern Italy. I have read 289 Siege Battery’s War Diary (held in the National Archives -WO 95/4205 289) which covers the period from Dec 1917 to May 1918 and gives a very interesting picture of army life up in the mountains above Vicenza. The officers seem to have enjoyed reasonably regular short breaks, allowing them visits to Rome.

Thomas Wallace’s army record seems uneventful. On 22 March 1918 he was admonished by the C.O. for turning up 85 minutes late to 9pm Roll Call, so I hope he had been having some fun. I doubt he ever got to Rome. On 19 April he was awarded First Class Proficiency Pay of ‘6d per diem’ and on 17 May was sent on a ‘Pigeon Course’ at General Headquarters, rejoining his Battery a week later. Three weeks later,  on 15 June, during the first day of the battle of Asiago he was killed. Army records show that his effects – comprising photos, 21shillings, metal wrist watch (broken) and signaller’s certificate – were returned to his widow, my grandmother.

The story handed down in the family ran something along the lines that, as a signaller, Thomas Wallace had been alerted to the fact that the Austrians were about to make a surprise attack, that communications had been disrupted and that he was relaying this information by travelling down the Line in person when he was killed. One is naturally very wary of ‘family’ stories, knowing full well how they get corrupted in the telling  but in records held in the National Archives, I did read, in a report of the battle of 15 June,

“289 Siege battery detached and section from them to engage suitable targets among the enemy’s advancing infantry

10.15 Runner and motor cyclists used because lines cut to brigade headquarters

Casualties in Brigade: 1 officer and 4 other ranks killed.’

The report of course doesn’t name the ‘other ranks’ but I wondered if Gunner Thomas Wallace was not one of those men.

He is buried at Magnaboschi Cemetery, a lovely tranquil spot, which when we visited some years ago we approached on foot through meadows. A fair proportion of the men buried in this small cemetery were also killed on 15 June 1918. The War Graves Commission information for Thomas Wallace is correct, whereas that created by the War Office is careless enough to have him killed in France. It just shows that one should never trust even the most official of records without corroborating evidence. Some years ago I did manage to get his entry corrected in the Roll of Honour of the Royal Garrison Artillery, contained in Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. Wasn’t it just typical, I thought, when you know something about anything ‘They’ would get it wrong.

 

Thomas WallaceThat cemetery was a world away from the life my grandmother knew – the villages and small towns of Fife. I doubt she ever saw a photograph of his grave. She never seemed to recover from his death. Life on a war widow’s pension was a struggle. She kept all the letters he sent from the War – and when I was about 12 years old I was allowed to read one or two. I particularly remember one that described his crossing of the Lombardy Plain on the way to Italy. Alas, those letters disappeared around the time of her death in a nursing home in the early 1960s.

My widowed grandmother, with my mother and her brother, in the doorway of their Falkland cottage

My widowed grandmother, with my mother and her brother, in the doorway of their Falkland cottage

Like so many other children of their generation my mother and her brother, who was born in December 1917, grew up without a father. That was all they had ever known.

My mother in her University of St Andrews graduation gown

My mother in her University of St Andrews graduation gown

What were that young couple saying to each other as they discussed the news of War in their Edinburgh tenement  on 4 August 1914?  Until now they had surely been more content with life than had Kate Frye. Did they sense the cataclysm awaiting them? Alas, however well one may understand the situation of those close by ties of blood, without a written record it is impossible to know them in the way that a diarist – such as Kate – has determined that we should know her. It is  Kate’s mood that I feel still reverberating this centennial Fourth of August.

 

Incidentally, although Thomas Wallace may not have seen much more of Italy than the Lombardy Plain and the Dolomites, one of his great-granddaughters is now exceptionally well-acquainted with Rome – find her at Understanding Rome. Isn’t it remarkable the pattern Life makes?

For more about Kate Frye see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

Copyright

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.

, , ,

1 Comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 3 August 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

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 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.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Monday August 3rd 1914

I think the Blackest Bank Holiday that the world has ever known. What an appalling day – the most dire and awful depressio over everyone – like a pall shutting out the idea of holiday – jollity, sunshine and air – everything dead and dumb and yet one’s nerves turned up to a frightful pitch.

A European War and England must be drawn in. It is all rushing upon us now – a huge welter of realisation of what we are in for – what our navy means to us, and what the machines of death will bring to innocent men and their wives and families.

I am all for peace – always for peace, war is too repulsive, but I am for the honour of England too – and come what may we must link ourselves with France and help keep off the aggressive – brutal – nation that is at her doors. What an awful day. I shall never forget it.

Agnes in bed very seedy in that miserable dark hole of a room – would not even have the blind up all day. I went out in the morning and evening for strolls – not a smile on the face of anyone one met – simply a grim, hard, and quiet manner, but terror at our hearts. What will the war mean towards us?

Read the papers all the afternoon. The Bank Holidays are to continue for 3 more days to let the staff get things into order and issue £1 & 10/- notes to make up for the shortage of gold. Some people are getting panic stricken – taking out their money. Then some people are buying up huge quantities of food stuffs and stocking their houses as for a siege. How mean and beastly of them – the people with money trying to get some advantage over the poor who cannot hoard – and of course creating an artificial demand and raising prices needlessly. One lady bought 18 hams – besides a huge amount of other goods – some people giving orders of £75. I hope their foodstuffs will be chasing them round the house before they can eat it. 

Travellers are getting stranded in Austria and Germany where they are mobilizing and using the railways for that purpose so that people cannot get home. Oh dear – oh dear. It’s awful.

I did not go out after tea but greased Mickie’s skin for 2 hours. He is in an awful state. I brought a small pot of my stock of grease when we left the Plat last September.

Well, Kate’s words speak for themselves. Hers was the experience of most of Britain – a month ago she would never have dreamed that the country was about to enter a European War. Then, on 3 July,after a morning of canvassing for ‘votes for women’ in Peckham,  she and John had pottered down to Worthing for a short weekend-break.  As unremarkable a couple of days by the seaside as one could imagine. Here she was in Worthing again – and the world she had known was turning upside down.

Worthing Parade, 1914

Worthing Parade, 1914

Do look at this article on Worthing History  to read about the enticing range of entertainments Worthing had to offer on that Bank Holiday Monday while Agnes, typically, lay in her ‘dark hole of a room.’ Kate, although she may not have gone to listen to the illuminated concert on the Parade, at least went out to sample Worthing’s mood and when at home soaked up what information there was in the papers. Knowing  how near to penury her family now  was, we can recognise why she took a very personal interest in the reported selfishness of the wealthy.

NOW PUBLISHED (7 August) Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £5. 14 from Amazon.

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

Copyright

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.

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 2 August 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

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 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.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Sunday August 2nd 1914

Not out all day as furious wind, everything jangling and banging. I felt seedy and got up late. Agnes too was very queer – says she knows she is going to be ill. Read and dozed in the afternoon and did some writing in the evening.

Germany has declared war against Russia for interfering against Austria over Servia – and against France!!! Goodness alone knows why unless this is what she has been preparing for and planning for years. England must be drawn in – I don’t see in honour what else we can do. John may be called to a Fort at any minute. Oh the whole idea frightens me.

John Collins

John Collins

John Collins, had been involved with the army all his life, despite being the most un-warlike of men. The Collins family had long  been leading members of Knaresborough (Yorkshire) society. John’s father, however, had been a younger son, had not inherited any family wealth and had gone into the army, becoming a colonel.  In 1900, after a brief spell as a student at Cambridge, John had served out in South Africa as a private  with the Yeomanry Field Hospital, Bearers Company during the Boer War.  Ever since returning he had worked in the theatre while continuing as a member of, first, a Volunteer brigade and then as an assiduous member of the Territorial Army. His theatrical career had been punctuated by length periods spent at training camps – on Salisbury Plain and at coastal forts such as Shoeburyness. So we can see why the thought of war caused Kate a particular fear.

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

Copyright

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.

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 1 August 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

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 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.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Saturday August 1st 1914

Very warm. Up late. Agnes, Mickie and I to the Beach 12 to 1. Work in the afternoon. Rain in the evening so I went out by myself to the Library. But I can’t read – there is too much in the papers, and all this uncertainty makes one restless.

This must be one of the shortest entries in Kate’s entire life-time of diaries. As such, as she says ,it is an indication of the impossibility of concentrating on anything other than the hitherto inconceivable fact that a European war would not now be averted. It was merely a matter of waiting to see which countries would be involved.

Kate with Mickie in happier days - at The Plat

Kate with Mickie in happier days – beside the river Thames at The Plat, Bourne End

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

Copyright

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.

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 31 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate.

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

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 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.

Kate has just begun her summer holiday – staying with her mother and sister in their rented rooms in Worthing.

Friday July 31st 1914

Up late – felt very weary. Mother very upset and twitchy. Her depression is because we had had letters from the Lawyer about the old man’s affairs and it seems years ago he borrowed £500 from Aunt Agnes and since 1911 has paid no interest. It’s too appalling – no wonder she is upset. Surely we know the worst now – can there be any more of these horrors. It does indeed make life miserable. We could never hope to pay it off – and considering we are living on Aunt Agnes’ bounty what would be the good.

Mickie and I went and sat on the beach 11 to 1. Writing all the afternoon. Agnes and I out in the evening. Quite cool.

Frederick Frye, Kate’s father, had died four months ago. During his lifetime, even when he had lost his business and the family homes, he refused to discuss  financial affairs with his womenfolk. His wife and elder daughter were probably temperamentally unsuited to dealing with such matters, but Kate would have very much preferred to have known what was going on. As it was, ever since about 1900, they had been admonished to cut back on spending on dresses and on outings to the theatre – but had no awareness whatsoever of the dreadful state of the family finances. The fact that Frye had borrowed money from her sister – and had long ago abandoned all pretence of even paying interest on it – clearly was an appalling blow to Kate’s mother. It says a great deal for Agnes Gilbey’s generosity that they only found out about the loan from their lawyer. Aunt Agnes herself  had never mentioned it and had, indeed, offered her sister, Jenny Frye, a generous allowance when she was left destitute after her husband’s death.

This family gloom eclipsed for today any mention of the war situation in Kate’s diary. ‘Mickie’, her little dog, and ‘writing’ (I wonder what it was she was writing?) offered the only consolations.

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

Copyright

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.

 

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 30 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’, in which Romola Garai plays Kate. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

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 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.

Thursday July 30th 1914

The holiday that I have longed for – from the point of view of rest but know that I shall not enjoy from the point of  view of enjoyment – has come at last. It is years since I have had a holiday free from some anxiety that I can’t believe in this one much.

Up at 7. Breakfast at 8 and my man came for the luggage and got a Taxi and I left here at 9.30 – parting from the Misses Heffer in great friendliness. At Victoria it was a pandemonium. I don’t know what was the matter with the station – it couldn’t be all the holiday traffic, but I had to fight to get a Porter and to get my luggage put in the train – and we were 20 minutes late in reaching Worthing.

The journey seemed short as I had bought no end of papers to read of the Crisis – it is becoming too awfully serious for words. Home politics are clean out of it at this moment – everyone’s interest is fixed further afield. Fancy a European War at this period of our so-called civilization.

Mother met me at Worthing station looking most depressed – oh dear I am so tired of it. Agnes not well to start with. I arranged with a porter to bring my things and walked up with Mother to 10 Milton Street. ‘Dear love’ raced up the road – he was ever so pleased. Agnes does not look well. Mother is going to Wooburn on Wednesday so I am to have her room to save 2 moves. We had lunch and sat and talked. Tea at 4 then I unpacked a little bit – it’s an awful muddle being in anyone else’s room. The three of us then took a walk, supper and bed. I feel utterly tired and depressed.

Well, as Kate guessed – she – and the rest of Britain – had not picked the right year if they wanted  a quiet summer holiday untroubled by anxiety. The pandemonium at Victoria was an indication that, with the crisis in Europe mounting, people had found a sudden necessity to travel. Holiday makers from the Continent , of whom Kate had mentioned a couple of weeks ago that there appeared to be many more in London than usual, were cutting short their stay in Britain and returning home.

Waving good-bye to soldiers returning to the Front, Victoria Station 1915

Waving good-bye to soldiers returning to the Front, Victoria Station 1915. All too soon scenes such as this would be the daily routine at Victoria.

Kate had been born in 1878 and during her lifetime had  known  a Europe in the main at peace. I don’t think there was a mention in her 1913 diary of the troubles in the distant Balkans – she had been far too caught up in the suffrage struggle at home.  In the days when the Fryes were still prosperous she had spent long, languid holidays at spas in Germany and Austria  – how difficult it must have been to contemplate – at least initially -that the people she had met there were likely now to be ‘the enemy’. The war that had involved her generation had been fought in far-off South Africa  – a rather more suitably exotic stage on which to mount the clash of arms.

In the meantime it was back to the gloom of family life – such of it as remained – in rented rooms in Worthing. The ‘holiday’ element merely meant that for a month or so Kate didn’t have to go into the Office each day – or canvass for ‘Votes for Women’ around London. She obviously wasn’t expecting much in the way of pleasure – but at least would be with ‘Dear love’ – aka as ‘Mickie -, her beloved Pomeranian.

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

Copyright

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.

,

5 Comments

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 28 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’. 

To discover more about the entirety of Kate’s life – her upbringing, her involvement with the suffrage movement, her marriage, 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. or  £4.99 from Amazon.

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 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 28th 1914

Jobs of writing and tidying. Out at 2. Lunch at Slaters. Then to Office to work until 5.30. Bus to Victoria – shopping on my way back and a little unfurnished room hunting. Found some very nices ones in a respectable house in Charlwood Place. In 7.30. Meal at 8. Writing till bed at 10.30

A nondescript day – no mention of what she was reading in the newspaper of trouble in Ireland and Europe. But interesting to learn that Kate was contemplating taking an unfurnished room – something more permanent than her Claverton Street digs. All the furniture she possessed was in storage at Whiteleys. She had saved what she considered belonged to her from being auctioned the previous year when the family home, The Plat, and all its contents went under the hammer. In her diary she lovingly listed these few chairs, rugs, bookcases etc. It was little enough – but she longed to have a home of her own and her own furniture about her. Charlwood Place looks very appealing – and could almost be considered Belgravia rather than Pimlico – which would certainly have appealed to Kate. On occasion she had felt unable to reveal that she lived in Pimlico – then a rather declassé area.

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

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.

 

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 27 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV published 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  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 shared 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.

Monday July 27th 1914 [Kate has been staying for the weekend at the Kennels, a house in which her aunt Agnes Gilbey was living on the Gilbey estate at Wooburn]

Breakfast 8.30. Put my things together, had a talk to Mrs Wootten on the Telephone at The Plat then with Constance walked to the Manor Farm and she showed me all over it. It is a dream of a place, and the garden is perfect. Then she saw me off by the 11 o’clock train to Paddington.

At Maidenhead Mrs Burls was seeing her daughter Olga and ‘Emma Murry’ off and they got in my carriage – she recognised me so I had to chat. I was very absorbed in the paper. Great and serious news – a terrible conflict between the Nationalist Volunteers in Dublin and the Police – 3 shot dead and many wounded. Will this mean an Election? Things seem really serious in Ireland – and then the even more serious continental news.

By underground to Victoria and bus to Claverton St. Just unpacked my things and then bust to Victoria – lunch at Slaters and met Mrs Chapman at 3 o’clock and we went to Peckham together canvassing. We kept on until about 5.30 – having the usual sort of experiences – then tea together in an ABC and I saw Mrs Chapman off. I did some more canvassing, then bought an evening paper and went into a Lyons and ate a macaroon to read it. There is going to be serious war and Russia and Germany are beginning to fall out now. Oh dear.

To the Triangle at 7.45 – and our meeting at 8. I took the Chair and Miss Hawley and Miss D’Oyly were the speakers. I got the names of 10 sympathisers and we had  a nice meeting but did not keep it going so long as ususal. I was back home at 10.15. had some supper of a kind and then to bed.

The significance of looking around the Wooburn Manor Farm lay in the fact that Aunt Agnes Gilbey, together with her unmarried daughter, Constance, and her widowed daughter, Katie Finch-Smith, were soon to move into this house on their estate – and remain there for the remainder of their lives. Olga Burls who sat with Kate in her railway carriage on the way back to London was then about 17 years old and, with the middle name ‘Gilbey’, was in some way related to the family. I can only guess that ‘Emma Murry, whose name was put in quotes by Kate,’ was a dog – unless, of course, she was a maid!

As we can see Kate was still – just – marginally more concerned about events in Ireland, which might trigger a General Election and thereby disrupt her planned holiday break,  than with war preparations in Europe. And, of course, Peckham still needed to hear the message – ‘Votes for Women’.

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

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 26 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 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.

Sunday, 26th July 1914 [Kate is staying for the weekend at the Kennels, a house in which her aunt Agnes Gilbey was living on the Gilbey estate at Wooburn]

A cold and showery day. I had a beautiful bath and was down to breakfast. Constance of course had been to Church but as she was not ‘feeling her best’ much to her annoyance she could not go to morning service. Aunt Agnes came downstairs and said she felt better. She stayed up until after supper. We had a fire in the drawing-room it was so chilly.

I wrote letters and chatted all the morning. Gilbert, Edith and their 3 daughters came to luncheon. A most uninteresting party – really Edith is a block. She never wrote to Mother when Daddie died – or referred to it in any way. She is horrible. Gilbert brought the news that the Stock exchange was in an awful way yesterday – in a state of collapse over the War rumours. Things are so allied nowadays that I suppose Servia and Austria make a panic everywhere – in case England is drawn in too. The ‘Chalklands’ family went off about 3.

I got ready and we went for a stroll all around the garden and on the hill. The valley did look lovely – the silver thread of the Thames running through it madee me very sad too – I cried a little. Then I sat out of doors until tea was ready, and just as we had started tea Newman’s Jack [that is Jack Gilbey, son of Newman Gilbey] – now a full blown Lieutenant and one of his younger brothers Frank arrived on a Motor Cycle. He has ridden from Aldershot and fetched his brother from Beaumont [Jesuit boarding school then at Old Windsor, Berkshire]  and came on to tea with his grandmother. They are most fascinating boys – Jack is a dear and so amusing. How well I remember the 3 in the old days Harry, Jack and Charlie. Charlie is now engaged to Lettice Watney. It seems simply absurd – she may be only a year or so older, but in type and character she seems a middle aged woman. What strange marriages they make.

After the two boys had gone Constance and I hurried off to evening service at the Parish Church. Mr Unsworth preached but was not very interesting. Back and changed for supper, when I had 2 goes of everything to make up, as I told them, for going supperless tomorrow. Bed at 10.10. They really have been more than kind and though I dreaded coming I have enjoyed myself.

The description of Constance ‘not feeling her best’ – inside Kate’s inverted commas – was probably a euphemism for ‘having her period’. In Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette  I do discuss the blight that menstruation appeared to cast over the lives of Kate’s circle – but I’ve not previously come across it as a reason for not being able to go to Morning Service. Unless, of course, when 11 o’clock came Constance was actually feeling unwell.

Gilbert and Edith Gilbey lived at ‘Chalklands’, a house at Bourne End that was subsequently owned by the writer Edgar Wallace. At this stage their family comprised three daughters (one of whom, Brenda, was to become too keen a supporter of Hitler for Kate’s liking at the beginning of the Second World War), to which a son was added in 1917.  All three of Newman Gilbey’s sons, Harry, Jack and Charlie, were fortunate enough to survive the coming war – although there were casualties among their cousins, including two of the sons of Gilbert and Newman’s sister, Agnes Shaw.

A few years earlier Lettice Watney had helped Kate organize a dance in aid of funds for the London Society for Women’s Suffrage –  in the days when Kate was still a volunteer for the Cause. Lettice was exactly a year older than Charlie Gilbey; they were married in June 1915. Lettice’s ancestry is inextricably linked, back through several generations, with the Gilbey and Gold families

Gilbey - Gold wedding

 

 

In April 1892 Kate and Agnes Frye were bridesmaids at this double Gilbey/Gold wedding . Agnes, carrying yellow roses, was among Mary’s bridesmaids – Kate was among Lizzie’s bridesmaids, who were themed with pink roses.  As Agnes remarked of a Blyth/Gold marriage in 1897  ‘Are they all going to marry each other?’ I can see that this phenomenon continues down until the present day.   Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette describes the way, for good and ill, the lives of the Frye family were intertwined with that of the Gilbeys.

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

Copyright

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.

 

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 25 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

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.

Saturday July 25th 1914

Up and packed – and put my things in order and left with a cardboard Dress Box as my luggage at 12.15. To Victoria by bus and to Praed Street by train – had some lunch at Lyons and then to Paddington for the 2 o’clock train to Wooburn. Met Mr Woodward – he knew me and came up and spoke to me – it is years since we met. He had not heard of Daddie’s death.

I felt so awful going to the old place – I just glued my eyes to the window – I couldn’t help it – when we came to Winter Hill and Cock Marsh and the river and then the train stopped on the Bridge and I saw the dear old ‘Plat’. It was a gorgeous day, but a very high wind and the river was lashing about and the trees swaying and there stood the house. It really seems utterly grotesque that it should be all as it is – that the others live in poky lodging and I exist on £2 per week in a dreary London Bedsitting room – sometimes it seems it cannot be.

I saw Pratt on Bourne End platform and some of the old porters but most of the faces were new and the riff raff on the Platform was the usual holiday season tripper crew. Then on to Wooburn where Constance met me with the Victoria and took me for a lovely drive before going to the Kennels. The country looks too fair for words – and the Harvest is very forward. Aunt Agnes and Constance alone at the Kennels – and Aunt Agnes in bed as she does not feel very well. I went up to see her and she was ever so cheery and bright. Then Constance and I went in the garden and I had a feed of fruit – then a wander through the woods – back and another chat with Aunt Agnes.

Changed for dinner and then a chat to Constance until ten and then bed. She sees less narrow than she did. Of course I could not speak of my work – that is Taboo – but I mentioned one or two facts concerning it – that if, as seems possible, we are in for a General Election I shall not get off next week for my holiday etc and there didn’t seems quite such a stiffening. But perhaps someone she respects has come out for Suffrage – or is it the Bishop of Kensington? I shall be sorry if I can’t get away for a rest – it won’t be a real holiday, not a success I feel sure cooped up with Mother and Agnes at Worthing and all the nagging that goes on between them – but I don’t feel I can go on with this work without a break. I have grown to loathe it.

I suppose if an Election comes I shall go through with it but I shall much fear a collapse – and fought on the Irish Question we shan’t get a look in – shan’t be listened to. Now there seems such European complications – Austria and Servia. Perhaps our domestic parliamentary quarrels will have to take a second place. The papers seem full of rumours of trouble here and elsewhere.

 

Bourne End Regatta 1911 - showing the railway bridge in the background and the grounds of The Plat on the left

Bourne End Regatta 1911 – showing the railway bridge in the background on which Kate’s train halted and the grounds of The Plat on the left

It is rather fitting that Kate should make her first mention of the gathering clouds over Europe – as well as the situation in Ireland – on the day on which she returns to the scene of the ‘gay and reckless’ days of her childhood and youth. When the Fryes were living in The Plat, their house beside the river Thames at Bourne End in Buckinghamshire, it had seemed inconceivable the life should not carry on along the primrose path. But here was Kate looking down on The Plat and its grounds from her train, drawn to a halt on the railway bridge over the Thames, knowing that what had once seemed impossible had happened – her family was homeless and penniless. Perhaps the knowledge that catastrophes like this could happen made her more able to realise that something might occur  to push ‘our domestic parliamentary quarrels’ into second place.

These thoughts were going through Kate’s mind as she re-entered the world she had lost – the world of the wealthy Gilbey family. For she was on her way to spend the weekend with her aunt, Agnes Gilbey, and her cousin Constance, who were living at this time at the Kennels – one of the Gilbey homes on their Wooburn estate, a short distance from Bourne End. Here life ticked on as it always had – cocooned and comfortable – fuelled by the income from the extremely successful Gilbey wine and spirits empire.

As Kate says, she knew it didn’t really do to talk about her suffrage work even with Constance, who was her own age and a friend of her youth. Although – in what were to prove the final days of the pre-war suffrage movement – Kate did think she discerned a slight broadening of Constance’s sympathy in this regard. You can see from this how outré the   idea of ‘votes for women’ could still seem to some youngish women – despite or perhaps because of – all the campaigning, militant and non-militant, of the last few years. But, whatever her views on this, Constance was throughout her life to prove a good friend to Kate.

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

Copyright

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.

 

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 24 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 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.

Friday July 24th 1914 Felt rotten. Up late. Jobs and writing but practically gave myself a holiday. It was a very heavy day. I had ordered a chop to come in so ate my dinner within. Had tea and then out – but rather late as I had waited to see if we were in for  thunderstorm. Some supper at Lyons at Charing Cross – then to Covent Garden and up in the gallery to hear Charpentier’s ‘Louise’. It had already commenced but I found a seat near the door-  the Russian Opera at Drury Lane must have made a huge difference to Covent Garden. Edvina was singing as Louise. I was disappointed at first but I think it improves immensely as it goes along and the end is fine and so splendidly acted – it made one feel wrought up. It is a very elaborate opera. I heard Ruby Heye [sic – I can’t really make out this name] – Ivan’s friend – in a small part and if she was the girl I picked out she was good. Not in until 12.15.

Louise Edvina (image courtesy of Past Tense Vancouver Histories website)

Louise Edvina (image courtesy of Past Tense Vancouver Histories website)

Louise Edvina was a Canadian soprano, the first to perform in London as ‘Louise’ in Charpentier’s eponymous opera. As Kate hints, the Drury Lane Theatre season of Russian opera and ballet rather eclipsed the Covent Garden Opera House offerings. Among the wonders of the 1914 Russian season were ‘Boris Gudonov’ with Chaliapin, ‘Prince Igor’, ‘Coq-d’Or and ‘Daphnis and Chloe’. ‘Ivan’ was Ivan Phillipowski, a young pianist whom Kate had met when they shared digs in Dover in 1913. Ivan was then in his late teens – very much younger than Kate – but he appears to have been rather smitten with her – or so Kate confided to her diary. Ivan was to have a  successful musical career and in the inter-war years Kate occasionally went to his concerts. Or, at least she went when she could do so without her husband knowing. John was clearly rather jealous.

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

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 23 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 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.

‘Thursday July 23rd 1914

To Office to attend the Committee for the last time as we break up next week. It was simply awful – Alexandra Wright lost her temper before everyone and made a scene. And then Miss McGowan lost hers and was frantic and Gladys was very rude to her. I felt like walking downstairs and away, but I made myself go back and I gripped Ailie [Alexandra] by the arm and did what I could to soothe her.

Everyone left but Mrs Hartley- she is very good with everyone and we four went out to lunch at Harrods together. But it was all most sickening. Came back and worked in the office until 6 o’clock and did some packing up there. Bus to Victoria – shopped and walked down. Rested till my meal at 8 o’clock and afterwards some writing.’

Well, from my pretty extensive reading of the minutes of suffrage societies I can say that such scenes were not at all infrequent. Of course usually we can only glimpse the atmosphere in the committee room from the wording and tone of minutes of a meeting. Here we have it unglossed. This was a fight – but about what, heaven knows.

Mrs Hartley, who appears here as a peace-maker but about whom Kate can sometimes be quite sharp, has an interesting history. She was born Beatrice Julia Sichel in Timperley, Cheshire, in 1857 – daughter of Julius Sichel, a merchant and Austrian vice-consul, and his wife, Matilda Britannia (nee Lloyd).  Beatrice Sichel was orphaned after her mother died in 1872 and her father in 1874 – at Dinard. She was then adopted as her daughter by Eliza Lynn Linton, the novelist., and in 1880, at Hampstead, married Lion Hertz, who had been born in the Netherlands though a British subject. They had three children and, although I can find no record of Lion Hertz’s death in Britain, in the 1891 census Beatrice Hertz is described as a widow. By 1898 Mrs Hertz had changed/anglicized her surname – and those of her children – to ‘Hartley’. She had been hon secretary of the Hampstead branch of the London Society for Women’s Suffrage before defecting to help form the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage.

the_Gentle_Art_of_Cookery_coverMrs Hartley’s daughter, Olga, was co-author with Mrs Hilda Leyell of the rather influential The Gentle Art of Cookery (one of the re-issues of which I remember being delighted to receive as a Christmas present many, many years ago), was associated with her in ‘Culpeppers’, the chain of herbalist shops- as well as publishing at least a couple of novels. I’ve often wondered what cookery books Kate possessed when she had to start cooking in earnest after the end of the First World War. I wonder if the New Constitutional Society – and vegetarian – connection persuaded her to buy this book.

The war was to cast its shadow over Mrs Hartley – as Kate reveals in her diary  entry for 30 November  1918 – ‘Mrs Hartley’s son Lynn was killed a month or two back. Poor woman and that is a tragedy indeed, she was simply devoted to him. Poor Mrs Hartley’.

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

Copyright

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.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 22 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 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.

‘Wednesday July 22nd 1914

To meet Miss Jerningham at 11 at Victoria and with her to Peckham by Train and we canvassed until 1.30 and then had lunch together at Newmans. Back as far as Victoria and I did some shopping and got in at 3.30. Tea at 4.30 after a rest.

Changed and then bus to Victoria and train to Praed Street and to see Miss Lockyer. I had telephoned to her yesterday as I have been meaning to go for weeks. It poured with rain, but cleared up just as I got there. She was very pleasant and seemed glad to see me, but she is very flithered [sic]. Told me all about the Frank Whiteley Divorce case which is to come on and the reasons for it – all very terrible but it never seemed likely to be a success. She was a horrid little woman.

Then at 7 to Pembridge Crescent to have dinner with Alexandra and Gladys. Mr Wright was in to the meal but I did not see him afterwards. Both the girls rather miserable –  the cottage or rather the Mother at Hythe does not seem a success.’

 

‘Newmans’, which may have had branches in both Peckham and Brixton, was, I think, a provisions dealer – with a shop that also incorporated a cafe. It may have been similar to the shops in the chain – Leverett & Frye – operated from the 1870s by Kate’s father. At least one of the Leverett & Frye stores – the one in Charlotte Street in London – had included a cafe.

William Whitelely 'the Universal Provider' on board the Fryes' launch on the Thames in the good.old days

William Whitelely ‘the Universal Provider’ on board the Fryes’ launch on the Thames in the good.old days( Imaage from my Kate Parry Frye collection)

Miss Lockyer had been ‘lady housekeeper’ to William Whiteley, ‘the Universal Provider’. He had been the owner of Whiteley’s department store in Westbourne Grove before he was gunned down outside his office in 1907. Kate’s father had been a  friend of Whiteley and for a time the families had been close. In their teens Kate and her sister were often paired up – at dinners and at outings to Ascot – with Frank Whiteley and his brother, Will. As she grew older, however, Kate professed to lose interest in them, thinking them too ‘shoppy’, although still enjoying the occasional whirl through London in Frank’s car. Frank had married in 1904 but in 1914 had filed for divorce, citing the cause as his wife’s misconduct with Capt Lancelot Gladwin. The settlement of the divorce case was reported in newspapers on 1 August 1914 and Ethel Whiteley and Gladwin married in October. The ‘horrid little woman’ was, of course, the transgressing Mrs Whiteley, not Miss Lockyer.

Kate had known Gladys and Alexandra Wright since 1906, when they all campaigned for the Liberals at the General Election. it was thanks to them that she was working for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. Their parents seem to have lived rather separate lives. The girls and Mrs Wright often rented houses in the Hythe area for extended periods, but I don’t think they were joined there by Mr Wright. You can read much more about Alexandra and Gladys in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

Copyright

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.

 

 

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 21 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 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.

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

Copyright

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.

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 20 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Monday 20th July 1914

Woke up at 6 and thought of John and then went to sleep again. Called at 8. Breakfast at 9 and then slept on until 10.30 when I realised I had not breakfasted – so got up and recooked the egg and dressed and went out at 2 o’clock. Had some lunch and did some shopping – in at 3.30 – had a rest and went to sleep again.

Tea at 6 – and then off to Peckham for the open-air meeting. Self in Chair and Mrs Kerr as speaker. We finished at 10.15. Home soon after 11. We did not have quite such a big crowd as usual. I was bitterly tired.

Well, life certainly does seem dreary for Kate without John.

As yet Kate, who was a keen reader of newspapers, has not commented on events in Europe or in Ireland- and nor does she mention details of the increasingly militant WSPU campaign. For instance, on 14 July an attempt was made to burn down Cocken House, owned by Lord Durham, on 15 July the Secretary for Scotland was attacked with a dog whip, on this very Monday suffragettes interrupted a service in Perth Cathedral protesting against forcible feeding of suffragettes in Perth Prison, and on 17 July a WSPU member had attacked Thomas Carlyle’s portrait in the National Portrait Gallery (see my post about the current NPG exhibition commemorating this here). It was against this background that the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage continued with its strategy of holding open-air meetings in the hope of  converting the inhabitants of south London to the idea of ‘Votes for Women’.

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

Copyright

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.

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 19 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Sunday July 19th 1914

Slept until late. John came in early to fetch his things and then did his packing and made his arrangements and did not come until 12.30. We sent by bus to Charing Cross and had lunch at Appenrodts in the Strand.

Then a bus to Hampstead Heath. It looked very threatening and we had one shwoer, then it cleared off and we were able to wander and sit about – there were couples sitting and lying at every turn. It really is a most beautiful place. We wandered about and came to Spaniards Road so found our way to the Old Bull and Bush where we had a 1/- tea amd sat in the garden and watched people being photographed. It wasn’t very nice.

Then by Tube to Covent Garden and to the London Opera House to a meeting of the Theatrical folk called together by Mr Poel to consider the way of getting the Shakespeare Tercentenary Festival to come off in 1915 into the hands of the Profession. Stewart Headlam – very old now, was in the Chair. Mr Poel spoke, Mr Mulholland, Miss Horniman and Miss Lena Ashwell. It was a very small gathering in front. John and I were practically first in the theatre and sat in the front row – one was admitted on one’s performance card. Very few people of any note were there. It seemed strange to be figuring at a theatrical meeting again – but I always feel to belong more to that than anything and I do agree with Mr Poel that Shakespeare was an actor and wrote essentially for the stage and that we should claim him as one of us.

The meeting began at 8 and was not over until past 10. We walked to the Corner House – such a dense throng of people about the streets it was difficult to get along. I have never walked through Leicester Square before on a Sunday night – it is horrible. So as they close early Sundays we had to make a hasty meal of sandwiches. Walked to the Bus and only got one as far as Victoria and walked from there.

Said good-bye as John is due at rehearsal at 12 o’clock tomorrow at Weston-super-Mare and his cab is ordered for 6 am. He was miserable at saying good-bye. I should like to go and see him act for a week during my holiday. I mean to go if I can, but my plans never come off. Otherwise we are not due to meet until Christmas. He has signed on with the Alexander Marsh Repertory company for another year at the old salary £3 per week. It is splendid experience but if they are all as awful as he says they are he may get into some bad ways. I wonder if he can act. I have enjoyed having him here these three weeks – he is very cheery but I have often felt too tired to be nice. I have tried to give him a good time – the three weeks has slipped by.

He waited to see me upstairs and I waved from the window, and he walked backwards down the middle of the road. Then I shed a few tears. it’s all very miserable.

The Old Bull and Bush (Image courtesy of pubshistory.com website)

The Old Bull and Bush (Image courtesy of pubshistory.com website)

This really was a holiday for Kate and John -a wander on Hampstead Heath was such a typical London thing to do, but I don’t ever remember them going there before – and is fittingly poignant in retrospect as John’s farewell to peace-time London.  The garden behind the pub was dotted with tables and chairs where they sat to eat their 1/- (one shilling) tea.

William Poel, by Alfred Aaron Wolmark, 1907, Royal Shakespeare Company Collection, the artist's estate; (c) Mrs Diana S. Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

William Poel, by Alfred Aaron Wolmark, 1907, Royal Shakespeare Company Collection, the artist’s estate; (c) Mrs Diana S. Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

The tercentenary of Shakespeare’s birth actually fell in 1916. This gathering of the ‘Profession’ was probably in response to a meeting held in July by ‘ a group of distinguished men’ headed by Lord Bryce, president of the British Academy. It looks as though the ‘Profession’ felt it was being excluded from the commemoration plans and wanted to make its own mark. William Poel had founded the Elizabeth Stage Society in 1895 and as an actor and theatrical manager was particularly devoted to staging Shakespeare. Kate had had several brushes with him at the beginning of her theatrical career. Stewart Headlam was a leading clergyman – who, among his many activities, was involved with the London Shakespeare League, Annie Horniman and Lena Ashwell both ran their own theatre companies.

Throughout their lives John and Kate were devoted Shakespearean – and you will be able to read about their continuing involvement with the theatre in Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and sufffragette. In the 1920s John worked with the William Bridges-Adams company at the old wooden Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and even in the mid-1950s. well into their old age,  John and Kate were still making expeditions to Stratford to see productions starring the new generation of actors – Richard Burton, Anthony Quayle, Michael Redgrave and Peggy Ashcroft.

You can read my post about the London Opera House (which was in Kingsway) and the suffragette movement here.

Presumably John’s interview with Frank Benson a couple of days earlier had come to nothing and he had decided to tour again with the Alexander Marsh Repertory Company – which specialized in Shakespearean productions. It was, as Kate said, ‘good experience’ – but it was now over 10 years since he started in the theatre.

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

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 18 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Saturday 18 July 1914

Very tired – and struck work. Up late. John in about 12 and both went out at 12.15. Bus to Charing Cross – lunch off salad at Eustace Miles.

Then we tried to get in ‘The Belle of New York’ on John’s card – no good – so we wandered about and eventually got in ‘The Palace’ to see the Revue ‘The Passing Show’. I was so glad as I wanted to see Elsie Janis. She is clever -something quite out of the way, the real thing in talent and a beautiful dancer. The revue was funny in parts but a mad sort of affair – Arthur Playfair and Basil Hallam.

We walked to Piccadilly coming out – had tea at Lyons and then by bus to Earls Court to the Spanish Exhibition. A much commoner affair than the White City – like a Fair in parts but we enjoyed it. Had a good dinner which made us feel better and did a few side shows. The Spanish singing and dancing in the Empress Hall was too awful  – we were in fits. Stayed until just upon 12 – then a train to Victoria and walked down. Nearly one o’clock when I got in. I was very tired but not unhealthy – very different to last week and I had enjoyed the outing.

Eustace Miles’ Restaurant was the best-known vegetarian restaurant in London – see my post on the Eustace Miles Restaurant and Suffragettes. Incidentally Hallie Miles, Eustace’s wife, is one of the diarists who, with Kate, features in the forthcoming ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. So, as we think of Kate and John eating their salad at this restaurant 100 years ago today, we can ponder on the gossamer strands of coincidence that intertwine to place them both in a television programme in 2014.

‘The Belle of New York’ had been all the rage in the late 1890s and in her late teens Kate had loved to dance routines from the show – especially if she had an admiring audience.

song sheet cover for ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’ words by Harry B. Smith, music by Jerome D. Kern sung by Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam in Alfred Butt’s production of the revue The Passing Show, Palace Theatre, London, 20 April 1914 (photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914; published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London, and T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, New York, 1914) (Image and caption courtesy of footlightNotes.tumblr.com

song sheet cover for ‘You’re Here and I’m Here’
words by Harry B. Smith, music by Jerome D. Kern
sung by Elsie Janis and Basil Hallam
in Alfred Butt’s production of the revue
The Passing Show, Palace Theatre, London, 20 April 1914
(photo: Foulsham & Banfield, London, 1914;
published by Francis, Day & Hunter, London, and
T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, New York, 1914) (Image and caption courtesy of footlightNotes.tumblr.com)

‘The Passing Show’ had opened in April at the Palace Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. It was while playing in it that American-born Elsie Janis (1889-1956) and Basil Hallam met and fell in love.  However the War, now barely three weeks away, was soon to kill Hallam. In 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, he hurtled to his death from an observation balloon when his parachute failed. Elsie Janis worked throughout the War, entertaining British and American troops.

Poster for the Anglo-Spanish Exhibition (image courtesy of Swann Galleries, NY)

Poster for the Anglo-Spanish Exhibition (image courtesy of Swann Galleries, NY and Artvalue.com)

The Anglo-Spanish Exhibition was subtitled  ‘Sunny Spain’. A newspaper reported that ‘Spanish music and song will be a feature of the open-air entertainments’  and that ‘In the Empress Hall will be found realistic reproductions of Spanish cities, Spanish cathedrals, Spanish villages and pleasure resorts’  This was the nearest Kate was ever to come to Spain.  The Exhibition closed at midnight – so Kate and John had spent the whole evening there, staying until the very end.

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 17 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Friday July 17th 1914

John arrived unexpectedly early, before I was up, but I just let him in to hear the news – he has had a letter from Benson saying he would see him, so was off. I had received a letter from Mr Dingle saying he could not speak – so as soon as I was up I went off to the Men’s League at Westminster and saw someone there who called Mr McKillop in from an office next door, and he like a lamb said he would come to Isleworth in Mr Dingle’s place. I expected to have to rush round London.

So I walked up to the A.A. and found John just having lunch with a very pretty woman and joined them as I wanted to hear what Benson said, but it was a very short interview. John saw me to Charing Cross then went off to a meeting and I came back to Victoria and bought some food then came in and had a rest and fell asleep.

John came in at 5 and we had a meat tea and then off together, Bus to Victoria – train to Hammersmith – train to Isleworth arriving at 7.15 – at the Upper Square. There were hundreds of children ready to greet us, I got a friendly feeling and they were very good but a great nuisance. John went off to find the Lorry as it was not punctual, but he missed it and it arrived alright and I got it fixed up.

By the time the speakers, Miss Dransfield in the Chair, Mrs Merivale Mayer and Mr McKillop and Miss Fraser to help had arrived we were absolutely mobbed – and we got a huge gathering. The first Suffrage meeting of any kind which had been held in Isleworth.

Mrs Mayer as usual was very disagreeable when she arrived, but it was really such a magnificent meeting she was quite pleased at the end, and as usual she spoke splendidly and we quite got the people round.

Having settled up early well came away together – Mr McKillop left us from the train, we parted from Mrs M.M. at Hammersmith and Miss Fraser at Victoria.

John and I were starving and we went into a restaurant at Victoria. John had salmon and cucumber – at 11.15! It was a lovely day.

John Collins was ‘resting’ at the moment – as is clear from the amount of time he was able to devote this month to helping Kate with her suffrage work. He would have been very excited about the prospect of employment in Frank Benson’s Company. The A.A., where Kate surprised him lunching with ‘a very pretty women’, was the Actors’ Association, the club in Covent Garden to which they both belonged.

The Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage to whose office Kate went for help when her speaker had failed was at 136 St Stephen’s House on the Embankment. The massive building was demolished, apparently in the early 1990s. We have already met the obliging Mr McKillop, who had for some years earlier been librarian to the fledgling London School of Economics. Kate had warmed to him after he praised her public speaking.

Upper Square, Isleworth (image courtesy of Hounslow Local studies website)

Upper Square, Isleworth (image courtesy of Hounslow Local studies website)

Well, this must have been the site of Isleworth’s first ‘Votes for Women’ meeting – or, at least, the first of which Kate had heard tell. Presumably during her canvassing she had met with plenty of local people who would have given her this kind of information. By ‘fixing up’ the Lorry Kate meant that she decorated it with posters – inquisitive children were suffragettes’ constant companions.

Calra Merivale Mayer

Clara Merivale Mayer

You can read about Mrs Merivale Mayer in Campaigning for the Vote – suffice it to say that Kate found her a great trial and, I am sure, knew nothing of her somewhat scandalous history. If she had known she would doubtless have felt vindicated in her dislike for this most difficult of the New Constitutional Society’s speakers. But Kate gave credit where it was due and often commented, as she does here, that despite the ructions she caused Mrs Mayer was an excellent speaker.

 

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 16 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Thursday July 16th 1914

Jobs and writing. John in in the morning. Out together at 1.30 and lunch at Slaters. Bus to the Office and John went in with a message and then joined me at the Tube and we went to Hammersmith and then train to Isleworth and we bill distributed until 6. It was very hot and we both got so tired. John was quite exhausted – says he couldn’t do my work. We got the Townsfolk – the Brewery people and the Pears soap people so did it thoroughly – 1000 handbills.

Then train to Hammersmith and just caught a nonstop train to Victoria and rushed in to change. Got in 7.45 – and was out again at 8 in my best and we went as hard as we could to the Shaftesbury Theatre to see ‘The Cinema Star’. Had Dress Circle seats. We were about 10 minutes late, but really we had enough. It is rot and there is very little real fun. It is a long time since I saw a London Musical comedy. I don’t think they improve. Miss Ward and Miss Cicely Courtneidge were the stars.

Supper at the Corner House. I felt deadly tired. All the world is now mad over prize fighting – Gunboat Smith v Carpentier. It was a sort of Mafeking night. We caught the 12.10 train from Charing Cross. Had to walk from Victoria and got in at 12.45.

 

Image courtesy of London Borough of Hounslow website

Image courtesy of London Borough of Hounslow website

Kate and John presumably stood at the Pears Soap factory gates, handing out handbills advertising the ‘Votes for Women’ meeting the New Constitutional Society was holding the next day in  Upper Square, Isleworth. The brewery they also canvassed was probably the Isleworth Brewery in St John’s Road.

”The Cinema Star’ had opened on 4 June and starred Jack Hulbert and Fay Compton as well as Cicely Courtneidge and Dorothy Ward.  The Shaftesbury Theatre was owned by Cicely Courtneidge’s father. With Harry Graham, Jack Hulbert had adapted the play from a German comic opera, ‘Die Kino-Konigin’, and it played very successfully, despite Kate’s verdict of ‘rot’, until the outbreak when anti-German sentiment resulted in its abrupt closure. Cicely Courtneidge and Jack Hulbert married in 1916.

Carpentier and Gunboat Smith (image courtesy of boxingshots.tumblr.com)

Carpentier (left) and Gunboat Smith fighting on 16 July 1914 (image courtesy of boxingshots.tumblr.com)

The American boxer, Gunboat Smith, had that evening fought the French champion, Georges Carpentier, at Olympia for the ‘White World Heavyweight Championship’. Smith was disqualified in the sixth round. Kate had good reason to describe street celebrations as ‘a sort of Mafeking night’. She had been in the Criterion Theatre on 18 May 1900 – when the relief of Mafeking was announced during an interval. By the time she left the theatre the streets of London were, as she put it, ‘alive with revelry’. You will be able to read all about Kate’s early life in the forthcoming e-book.

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

Copyright

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.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 15 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

 Wednesday July 15th 1914

Writing in the morning. John in at 11.30. Jobs. Out 1. Lunch together at Slaters. Coming out we met one of John’s Brother Officers when he was in the Field Artillery – Mr Graham. I have not seen him since the day we met at Burnham but he remembered me instantly. ‘Why, we went yachting’, he said. He is very nice looking.

Then John saw me off at Victoria for Lordship Lane – and though we asked two officials the train dashed on and landed at Crystal Palace. I was mad. Had to wait some time to get back – then a long walk to find Mrs Melling 75 Underhill Road and the meeting was half over. Miss McGowan had organised it and I had asked some of my new Peckham People and wanted to go to see them and because the Rev Hugh [Chapman] was down to speak – but I felt I was not going to meet him and he was not there. Ill and has had to go away. Miss McGowan was in the Chair, Mrs Chapman speaking. A very fine meeting, about 50 people there, but very few would join.

It started to pour with rain, but I had my coat and flew for a train and when I got out near home it was stopping a bit.

John was watching for me and came in with me while I tidied myself. He had changed. Then bus to Charing Cross – walked to the Popular had dinner and then to the St James’s Theatre to see ‘An Ideal Husband’. George Alexander not in it, and some one else playing Phyllis Neilson Terry’s part. It was a most cruel and awful performance – vilely and atrociously produced and most of them were in fits of laughter.

As for the play I could hardly sit it out – such Anti-suffrage old fashioned twaddle – as for the last act – tosh. I rose up and tramped out before the curtain fell. If I had paid for my seat I should have fussed. We were simply prancing with disgust. I never did like Oscar Wilde, but this play is the limit. Back by bus from the usual spot.

 

John Collins had, as a very young man, fought in the Boer War and ever since, as well as being an actor, had been a member of the Territorial Army – hence Kate’s mention of a ‘Brother Officer’. It was now not long before he would be involved in another war.

The New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage was clearly concentrating a good deal of its effort at this time on wooing the inhabitants of Peckham and East Dulwich. Kate had organized an open-air meeting in the centre of Peckham a couple of days ago – today’s was what was termed a ‘drawing-room meeting’ – in the home of a sympathiser. The Rev Hugh Chapman, whom Kate was keen not to miss, was the brother-in-law of the NCS president and was the vicar of the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy. Kate was somewhat enamoured of him. For full details of her past – somewhat surreal – encounters with him see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

Programme for the 1914 production of 'The Ideal Husband' (courtesy of oscarwildesociety,co.uk)

Programme for the 1914 production of ‘The Ideal Husband’ (courtesy of oscarwildesociety,co.uk)

The St James’s Theatre was in King Street, off St James’s Square, and in 1914 was owned and managed by Sir George Alexander. ‘An Ideal Husband’opened on 14 May 1914 and  closed on 24 July. The critics were rather more sympathetic to the production than was Kate. But then most were probably not suffragists! As Kate remarked, at least she – and, presumably, John – had not had to pay for their tickets. As members of the Profession they usually received complimentary tickets whenever they asked for them which, given that they were both addicted to theatre-going and  relatively impecunious, was just as well.

 

Copyright

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.

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 14 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Tuesday July 14th 1914

Felt much better. what a relief – I was bubbling over with the joy of life. John came in before I  had finished dressing but as I had to go out I left him at work on his Typewriter finishing something for the afternoon, and I went off to the Office, taking my dress for the afternoon with me.

Helped arrange things for the afternoon – and John came and he helped. Then when I could get away I changed and he and I went out to lunch and then back at 2.15 for the Summer Sale and Tea at the [ew].C[onstitutional] Hall. His work was to raffle signed photographs and mine to tie up parcels. But I never tied up one – the Palmist failed and I had to Palm – I hated it, but I really had quite a good time. Miss Lena Ashwell opened the Sale and though there did not seem many people we made quite a lot of money.

Mr Grein came straight from the Haymarket Theatre and the first Public Performance of ‘Ghosts’ as it has now been Licensed and had his hand read. But it was really very funny as he seemed to want to talk more about me – told me to go and see him – gave me his card, and said he liked my ‘eye’.

Gladys [Wright] was quite put about, ‘of course you will be leaving us now’ etc. She is quaint. But I do think the vain little man took rather a fancy to me and I imagine he is always on the look out for people likely to do him credit. I played up rather a game with him, but he quite took it all in. John was awfully upset.

John and I had tea together, and I think he enjoyed himself – he wore a new suit which was quite a success. We left soon as we could – rushed home and just tidied ourselves but no time for much – then out – no time for dinner – but straight to the Haymarket Theatre – Balcony stalls to see ‘Driven’. I enjoyed it immensely – beautifully produced and Alexandra Carlisle looking a perfect picture and greatly improved in her art and Owen Nares a fine actor – simply delightful in a most difficult part. Aubrey Smith as usual but good. The last act is idiotic, of course. John and I are certainly leading the gay and reckless life.

To supper at the Corner House. Waited for the last bus, but must just have missed it. Then found we had missed the last to Victoria – so made for the Underground. It had started to pour with rain by then and John in his new suit. We just caught the last train 12.20 and had to walk from Victoria, but fortunately the rain had not reached this district.

Burberry shop, Knightsbridge. The offices of the NCS were inside this building

Burberry shop, Knightsbridge. The offices of the NCS were on the ground floor inside this building. An arcade originally ran through – with the entrance just about where the bus is in this photo. Off the arcade were a number of small shops and offices

The New Constitutional Society’s Hall was close to their Office, inside Park Mansions Arcade in Knightsbridge. This is now the site of the Burberry Menswear Department (see ‘Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Frye and Knightsbridge’  ). Kate had developed her skill as a Palmist in her youth – in lieu of the more conventional accomplishments expected of a young woman – such as piano playing, singing, or reciting. In her early involvement with the women’s suffrage movement she had often, as a volunteer, provided palm-reading entertainment at bazaars and dances. (See ‘Palmist at the Women’s Freedom League Fair).

Lena ashwell

Lena Ashwell was a leading member of the Actresses’ Franchise League and, over the years had opened many a suffrage bazaar and fair.  A month from now she would be the instigator of the Women’s Theatre Camps Entertainments and of the Women’s Emergency Corps.

J. T. Grein - a photograph taken in 1898

J. T. Grein – a photograph taken in 1898

On Sunday 26 April 1914 Kate had been in charge of the box office  at the Court Theatre (later the Royal Court) when J.T. Grein staged a private performance of Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ as a fund-raising event for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage. This, of course, was before the Lord Chamberlain had removed his censorship of it by, as Kate explains, granting the play a performance Licence. Dutch-born Grein was a champion of European theatre.

‘Driven’, on the other hand, was a rather English comedy by E. Temple Thurston. The play’s run at the Haymarket came to an abrupt end at the outbreak of war – but in December was staged on Broadway, with Alexandra Carlisle again in the cast. The producer was Charles Frohman, with whose company Kate had had her first professional engagement ten years or so previously.

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

Copyright

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.

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 13 July 1914

 

On 7 August 2014 ITV published 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 Frye, suffrage organizer, 1913

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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Monday July 13th 1914

Up late. Letters all the morning. John came in and sat with me. Lunch together at Slaters, then I met Mrs Chapman and we went together to Peckham and canvassed. We had tea together and I saw her off about 5.30.

Then I wandered about and John met me at the corner of Rye Lane at 6. He had not had tea so I went with him to have some – then we strolled on the Rye and to the Triangle at 7.30. Had to take the Chair and, as Miss Feddon had not turned up at 8.15, I went on as long as I could as Miss D ‘Oyly was the only other speaker.

But Miss Feddon arrived and held the crowd for a long time. I had not wanted to speak before John, but as I had to I did it. He said he was surprised how well I did it – no hesitating and he heard one man in the crowd say ‘That’s the one I like to hear, she comes straight to the point.’

Miss D’Oyly went off early but Miss Feddon returned with us and we 3 went into a restaurant at Victoria and had some supper than we walked back and we saw her to Chichester Street. She is a nice woman but overwrought with militancy. The things that are going on are too awful, it is enough to wring anyone’s heart and mind.

I had felt really ill in the morning and feared a collapse, but I started on my white Liver Tabloids and they seemed to act by the evening. I felt decidedly better  Not in until 12 o’clock.

peckham1913b

 Perhaps Kate and John met at this corner – where Hanover Park meets Rye Lane? Probably not, but Williamsons looks a handy place to have some tea here. (Image courtesy of Transpontine website)

[Constance] Marguerite Fedden (1879-1962) came from a wealthy Bristol family and at this time was principal of a College of Housecraft and Domestic Science, 4 Chichester Street, Pimlico.  During the First World War she worked as a VAD nurse at Salonika. From Kate’s remarks she clearly was very troubled by the pitch of aggression that had now  been reached in the struggle between the militant suffragettes –  the WSPU – and the government.

A few days previously Mrs Pankhurst had yet again been arrested and  had immediately undergone a hunger and thirst strike. She was then released on a four-day licence, under the terms of the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act. She was soon to be rearrested.

Other leading members of the WSPU, such as Flora Drummond, Annie Kenney and Norah Dacre Fox, were also under constant threat of rearrest after failing to comply with the terms of their licence. In May and June the number of arson and bomb attacks had escalated throughout the country and already in July there had been explosions at Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh and, on the day previous to this entry, at St John’s Westminster.

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

Copyright

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.

 

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 12 July 1914

 

On 7 August 2014 ITV published 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 was a tie-in with the ITV series ‘The Great War: The People’s Story’. For details of the TV series and its accompanying books see here.

Kate Parry Frye, organiser for the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage, 1913

As a lead-up to publication I shared 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Sunday July 12th 1914

It simply came down in sheets. I had a rest and got up late. John came in at 12 – we had meant to go into the country but it was awful and so tiring as there was thunder in the air and every now and again it seemed most oppressive. We went out at 1.30 – bus to Trafalgar Square.

We did not know where to go so dashed in a restaurant in the Haymarket – very expensive and full of smart people – so, as we were anything but smart, it was rather awful. However we had a very good lunch and bore our shabbiness with as much of an air as we could.

It was still pouring when we came out so there was nothing for it but to come back. John did some typing and then we had tea – and went out again at 6. Walked all along the Embankment and over on the other side by St Thomas’ Hospital. The Houses of Parliament do look lovely from there. Over Westminster Bridge and we sat in the Charing Cross Embankment Gardens until 9 when we were turned out.

Then to Appenrodts in the Strand for some supper and a very delicious salad. Back by bus. Not in till 11.30.

 

The view that Kate had of the Houses of Parliament. A colour photograph taken in the evening in 1914 (Courtesy of the National Army Museum/BBC News websites)

The view that Kate had of the Houses of Parliament. A colour photograph taken in the evening in 1914 (Courtesy of the National Army Museum/BBC News websites)

Kate and John’s 12 July 1914 is the epitome of a peaceful, rather boring, London Sunday. I daresay we’ve all spent a day like this. The kind of day when it rains and rains and then clears up for a watery sunlit evening. Neither Kate or John had cooking facilities in the room – hence the regular eating out.

 

 

Appenrodt's flagship restaurant at 1 Coventry Street, London (courtesy of CardCow.com)

Appenrodt’s flagship restaurant at 1 Coventry Street, London (courtesy of CardCow.com)

Hermann Appenrodt had come to London in 1886 from Germany and had launched a very successful chain of delicatessens and restaurants. In 1914 he had three branches in the Strand. Appenrodt also had a branch in Paris which, a little over a month after Kate and John had enjoyed this Sunday supper, wa sto be badly damaged by an anti-German mob.

 

Copyright

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.

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 11 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Saturday July 11th 1914

I was most frightfully tired – really felt very seedy. Up late – then John came in, and we went out together and had some lunch in Lyons, but it was so nasty we did not get nourished. To the Duke of York’s Theatre by bus and Stalls to see ‘The Land of Promise’ which we enjoyed immensely.

The first act was real, the others impossible but the whole thing charming and so beautifully produced and acted. Irene Vanbrugh and Godfrey Tearle quite delightful both of them. It was quite like a professional matinee – nearly all pros. Gladys Cooper in a box – I don’t think her pretty and such a mean silly little face.

No end of people we knew and suddenly someone came up and spoke to me. For the moment I couldn’t remember and then the voice – Miss Mabel Wynne, the great fat girl in ‘Quality Street’ and grown quite slim. She knew me at once she said. I haven’t seen her since those days. She has been on the stage ever since, is very shoppy, and no nearer getting to London. Irene Vanbrugh got quite an ovation after every act – she is a brainy actress.

John and I went to the A.A. and there was Miss Wynne again – so we had a chat over tea. Then John and I by tube to the White City and there we strolled about. I was dead tired and had the rat horribly until we had some dinner when I revived a bit but felt anything but lively and walked about in rather a dead fashion.

We did not try many side shows and they were failures. Bostocks Zoo – heaps of performing lions but all very sad. We missed most of it as we went there last but we saw the poor dears fed. We also saw some wonderful racing on a miniature motor track, but John was seized with a panic fear so we came out.

It was really a most amusing evening there as the Eton and Harrow match had been played – Eton winning and all the boys, mothers  and fathers, cousins and uncles were there. It was a crush and crowd, all the side shows packed, crowds waiting for everything and so much real typical English excitement – not only amongst the young folks,  but even Mas and Pas, and all decorated with light blue.

It was a scene on the Witching Waves – they collared the whole corner and in the end had to stop it and get a policeman!!! How the boys enjoyed the joke. It made me feel very old to be walking round in that mournful manner in the midst of all that fun. We did not leave until 12 – got a train to Victoria and then had to walk. Oh I was tired.

Irene Vanbrugh (1872-1949)

Irene Vanbrugh (1872-1949)

‘The Land of Promise’ was a three-act comedy about life on the Canadian prairie written for Irene Vanbrugh by  Somerset Maugham. Kate had actually appeared alongside Godfrey Tearle- for one performance only – in Christopher St John’s censored play, ‘The Coronation’ [see Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary pages 88-89]. Kate had met Mabel Wynne while touring in J.M. Barrie’s ‘Quality Street’ in 1903/4 – in the early days of  her stage career. Mabel had played the part of ‘Patty, a cheeky servant’.

The ‘A.A.’ was the Actors’ Association – a club – with premises at 10 King Street, Covent Garden.

Poster for the Anglo-American Exhibition, 1914

Poster for the Anglo-American Exhibition, 1914

After the theatre Kate and John went to the Anglo-American Exhibition, which had opened on 14 May, to celebrate a century of peace between Britain and America. Until 1908 this area at Shepherds Bush had been farmland before becoming first the site of the Franco-British Exhibition and then of the Olympics. The sideshows ‘such as made Coney Island one of the merriest spots in America’, as one newspaper report put it, were very much a feature of the exhibition.

Kate was very much an animal lover – hence her qualms about the ‘heaps of performing lions’. A little over a month later newspapers reported that  ‘Three healthy medium-sized elephants have been requisitioned from Bostock’s Zoo at the White City by the military authorities. It is presumed they will be used for heavy draught purposes. At the end of the war the elephants will be returned to the menagarie.’ I wonder what happened to those elephants?

The Eton and Harrow match clearly engaged the public in a way we can scarcely now imagine. Kate was not exaggerating the rumpus caused by the ‘rag’, as it was described between the rival supporters. On the following Monday morning the Daily Gazette Middlesborough reported that   ‘To clear up the traces of Saturday nights’ Eton and Harrow revels at the Anglo-American exhibition took until after midnight on Sunday and thiry wagons were needed to remove the litter of paper streamers and other debris.’  The ‘Witching Waves’, which according to Kate bore the brunt of the revelry, was one of the Coney Island sideshows . When the Prince of Wales had visited the Exhibition it had been difficult to remove him from ‘the little cars that navigate the rolling, heaving platform called ‘Witching Waves’.

The Witching Waves ride - an early type of bumper car ride (courtesy of gaping Hole Media Blog)

The Witching Waves ride – an early type of bumper car ride (courtesy of Gaping Hole Media Blog)

The Anglo-American Exhibition was brought to a premature end by the outbreak of war.

 

Copyright

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.

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 10 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 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

Friday July 10th 1914

Slept until 9. dressed after breakfast. Wrote letters at 11. A very hot day. Had letter from Kathie in answer to mine of good wishes – speaking in glowing terms of her engagement. I am glad she is happy.

John and I went out to lunch at Slaters. Then we both went to Office for the Banner and Leaflets. By bus to Hammersmith and train [to] Hounslow where we got rid of the rest of the thousand handbills. Had tea at 5.30.

To Broadway at 7.15 and the Lorry arrived at 7.30 and we decorated it, getting an enormous crowd of children round.

Then the speakers Mrs Kerr and Mr McKillop arrived and Mr Fox in the Chair. Miss Raynsford Jackson and Miss Arber came down to help with giving out notices. We had a huge crowd and ours was the first open air meeting ever held in Hounslow.

The people were a bit troublesome at first but came round wonderfully. We had a little passing trouble with tin trumpets and a gramophone but I managed to quell it and we really had a magnificent meeting.

John and I waited just to pay up and we came to Victoria by train from Heston Hounslow. Went into Rinaldo’s for supper. It would have been quite nice only there was the most awful drunken man there making a scene.

We walked down. Got in at 12 o’clock. A great relief to me to have the meeting over.

Hounslow Broadway c 1912 courtesy of postcardsthenand now.blogspot.com)

Hounslow Broadway c 1912 (courtesy of postcardsthenand now.blogspot.com)

Here, on The Broadway, Kate organized Hounslow’s first ever open-air ‘Votes for Women’ meeting. Her main speakers were Mrs Barbara Kerr, whose sister, Louisa Raynsford Jackson, we have already met, and John McKillop. The latter had, until 1909, been secretary to the London School of Economics and its first (part-time) librarian – but was now secretary to an MP. His wife, Margaret, was a lecturer in chemistry in King’s College, London, Woman’s Department. Interruptions from tin trumpets and gramophones were par for the course. At least there weren’t any vegetable or firework throwers – such as Kate had had to contend with on previous occasions. Inquisitive children were a suffrage organizer’s constant companions.

Rinaldo’s was an Italian restaurant at 15 Wilton Road, just opposite Victoria Station. in his Gourmet Guide to London (1914), Lieut-Gen Nathaniel Newnham-Davies describes the interior of Rinaldo’s – ‘Its walls a pleasant grey with decorations in high relief on the upper part, and on the stained glass of the skylight are paintings of game and fruit. Baskets of ferns in the shape of boats hang from the roof and there are always bunches of roses on the tables.’ Before setting up his own restaurant Rinaldo had worked at the Savoy – and The Gourmet Guide reported,  his restaurant attracted an aristocratic clientele. Alas that one drunk should have spoiled Kate’s pleasure. She had been entirely used to dining out in the best London restaurants in her younger days when her father appeared the epitome of prosperity – but that was now a vanished era.

A menu for a dinner at the Cafe Royal during the Fryes' glory days

A menu for a dinner at the Cafe Royal – enjoyed during the Fryes’ glory days

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

Copyright

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.

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 9 July 1914

On 7 August 2014 ITV published 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 was a tie-in with an 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

Back in 2014, as a lead-up to publication, I sharee 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. John has a room along Claverton Street, at number 11.

‘Thursday July 9th 1914

Hard at writing from 10 to 1. John came in and we went out together to lunch at Victoria. Then I went off to Hounslow by train and canvassed all up and down both sides of the High Street and all over the place, and at 6 o’clock at Parke Davis Dye works as the people came out.

Then a train back to Hounslow and train to Victoria and bus. In at 7.30. J. was watching at his window and saw me get out of the bus and came in with me and waited until 9 – when he was very good and went off and got supper by himself. I was so dead beat I felt I could not turn out again so ate some bread and cheese and fell into bed.’

Was Kate canvassing these shops on 9 July 1914? (Image courtesy Local Studies, Houslow Library Services)

Was Kate canvassing these shops on 9 July 1914? (Image courtesy Local Studies, Houslow Library Services)

Kate’s canvassing in Hounslow was for the purpose of drumming up attendance of a ‘Votes for Women’ meeting she is to hold tomorrow in the Broadway.

As WSPU militancy became even more intense the New Constitutional Society for Women’s Suffrage held to its principle of campaigning in a democratic manner. This may now be thought boring – failing to provide news fodder for the press then and for bloggers now – but it was non-militant political lobbying that in the end won women the vote.

In the few days previous to 9 July 1914  WSPU supporters had, besides continuing with their campaign of arson, concentrated their attention increasingly on the King and the Church. A  portrait of the King by Sir John Lavery had been damaged in the Royal Scottish Academy and a few days earlier when the King had visited Nottingham a well-known suffragette had been arrested carrying a suitcase containing bomb-making equipment. On 1 July there had been a disturbance during the enthronement of the new Bishop of Bristol and on 5 July Mrs Dacre Fox had interrupted the Bishop of London during a Westminster Abbey service – asking him to prevent forcible feeding. She was a prisoner on the run, who had been released from prison under the Cat and Mouse Act, and was promptly re-arrested outside the Abbey.

Kate must surely have a taken a bus to the Parke Davis dye works, which was quite a way down the Staines Road. [The site at 581 Staines Road, long ago rebuilt by Parke Davis, is now used by the Home Office as an immigration centre.] Kate was well used to standing at factory gates handing out handbills – hoping to entice the workers to her meetings. We shall see tomorrow how successful her canvass had been.

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

, , ,

1 Comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 8 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.

Wednesday July 8th 1914 [Claverton Street]

Had a letter from home in the morning, with the news of Kathie Ellis’s engagement to Mr Hucks, the brother of Norah’s husband, and who has only been a widower for a year and has 7 children all under about 12 years of age. She is a brave woman. She writes most cheerfully so I suppose she is pleased.

It poured with rain early, but though showery it cleared up in time for me to meet Mrs Heath at Victoria at 11 and go with her to Peckham where we canvassed until 1.30. She returned to town and I had lunch then rode all the way to Hounslow by bus. It rained at first so I had to go inside – for an hour to Putney, then I had an hour outside.

I had to go to the Police, arrange about the Lorry etc – then back from Heston Hounslow to Victoria – and a bus home. Got in at 6.

Wrote letters until 7 – dressed, called in for John at no. eleven. We went by bus to Oxford Street where we hurriedly ate a sandwich then walked to the Kingsway Theatre and sat in the Stalls to see ‘The Great Adventure’. I had seen it before, but I was most anxious for John to do so, and he loved it. I think it a most gorgeous play, gloriously acted – Ainley is perfection. Miss Wish Wynne was out of it, but the girl who played her part was excellent.

We walked down the Strand in search of supper and went in to the Cabin – and had a most villainous meal. I could hardly touch mine – and plates etc were filthy and there were some most appalling looking foreign people in the place.

We just caught the 12 o’clock bus from Trafalgar Square. I was dead tired and so glad of bed.’

Kathie [Kathleen] Ellis (1882-1963) was one of the two daughters of Frank Ellis of Bishops Stortford, who, like Kate, was related by marriage to the Gilbey family – the firm that dominated the wine and spirit trade . Kate and Kathie had been close, although not bosom, friends since childhood. William Hucks’ first wife, Ethel, had died in spring 1913, aged only 34.

In her diary entry for 30 June 1913 Kate remarked  ‘the death of Mrs Willie Hucks at the birth of her eighth child. And no wonder – she has only been married about 10 years and was never a giant of strength. Poor thing – done to death – and what will those seven little mites do without her?’

Well, the answer to that rhetorical question was that Kathie Ellis became their stepmother. Hucks was an ‘engineer and distiller’ – one of the Gilbey/Blyth circle.

By 1914 the buses on which Kate travelled would have been powered by engines – rather than horses. The tops, however, were still uncovered – hence her need to take shelter from the rain by travelling inside. As a rule, ever since she was young, Kate had much preferred to travel on the top – even at a time when it was not considered appropriate for a girl or young woman to do so.

‘The Great Adventure’ was a play by Arnold Bennett, which had opened at the Kingsway Theatre, directed by Granville Barker, in March 1913. The actor Henry Ainley was one of Kate’s favourites.

Henry Ainley (courtesy of Cyranos.ch website)

Henry Ainley (courtesy of Cyranos.ch website)

The Cabin restaurant where Kate had her ‘villainous’ meal this evening was on the north side of the Strand, just to the west of Wellington Street. It was one of small chain. The unusually large number of foreign tourists in London that summer was particularly remarked, not only by Kate but also by the press. Knowing Kate, who was the epitome of Englishness, by ‘appalling looking’ she probably meant loud and extravagantly dressed.

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

,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 7 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.

Kate is back in Claverton Street, after a weekend in Worthing. Although she is a keen reader of newspapers, by the end of the first week of July she has made no comment on the events in Sarajevo.

‘Tuesday July 7th 1914

Writing. John in at 11.30 and out together at 1 and to Slaters for lunch. I can’t keep him out so it doesn’t seem any use trying. He is as absolutely devoted as ever – seems to care for nothing or nobody but me – it’s extraordinary and had now been going on eleven years with undiminished fervour. Poor dear I wish I could make him happy.

After lunch we proceeded to get to Isleworth but quite lost ourselves as we went by train from Victoria to Spring Grove then walked a long way to the Main Road and then had to take a bus. Then I had to visit the Police about the meeting and get a lorry which took about 2 hours and found Mr Rix had got the wrong information – that there is no Green but the meeting must be held in the Upper Square and the thousand hand bills will have to be altered. John says that organising is far harder work than the Stage.

Back by train to Hammersmith – tube to Knightsbridge and to the office at 4.45. ..I left with John at 6 o’clock.

We rushed home and changed, then a bus to Charing Cross, a sandwich and to the Criterion Theatre to see ‘A Scrap of Paper’. We were both bored, it wan’t particularly interesting as a revival – not played well and the play is rotten. Nancy Price was poor. I feel sure I saw Mrs Kendal in it. I seemed to remember how she did certain bits, with what art – she was wonderful. I think we were both tired and aching for a meal.

We went to the Corner House and had supper and just caught the last Pimlico bus. In at 12.15. John had Dress Circle seats given him – so we were very luxuriously treated. I was tired by the end of things.’

The beauty of Kate’s diary – from the point of view of studying the work of a suffrage organiser  –  is that it doesn’t cover up all the tediousness involved in running a ‘Votes for Women’ campaign. Kate does not gloss over the mishaps that – like here at Isleworth- will require someone to alter by hand a 1000 printed handbills. Amongst the collection of ephemera that she left I have similar flyers – with additions or alterations made in her own handwriting. This is not the view of the suffrage campaign that you will glean from reading published accounts – such as in the suffrage newspapers. This is real life. See also Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary.

‘A Scrap of Paper’ , a ‘comic drama’ adapted from a French play by the Victorian playwright John Palgrave Simpson, had first been staged in 1861. Mrs (Madge) Kendal, a renowned Victorian actress and theatre manager, had indeed,  back in the 1880s/90s, played in ‘A Scrap of Paper’ and Kate was certainly correct in remembering having seen such a production.

The Lyons Corner House in Coventry Street. The Criterion Theatre is just out of view in the left of the photo. This picture dates from many years after Kate's July 1914 visit - but gives us an orientation on her world

The Lyons Corner House in Coventry Street. The Criterion Theatre is just out of view in the left of the photo. This picture dates from many years after Kate’s July 1914 visit – but gives us an orientation on her world

‘Slaters’ and the ‘Corner House’ were both chains of restaurants for diners of modest means. The Corner House restaurants were part of the chain run by Lyons that opened in 1909. It was doubtless in the one in Coventry Street, a quick dash across the road from the Criterion Theatre, that Kate and John had for their longed-for supper this evening.

 

 

, , ,

Leave a comment

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

 

Leave a comment

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

, ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: The Lead-Up To War: 2 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. 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.

Thursday July 2nd 1914 

To office. Attended the Committee. To lunch at Harrods with Mrs Hartley, Alexandra [Wright] and Gladys [Wright] and Miss Bessie Hatton. Work at the office all afternoon. John arrived for me at 5.30pm. I left with him and we came back in a bus to Claverton Street.

I tidied myself and then by bus to Tottenham Court Road where we had a mysterious fish dinner. We liked the first half as we were extremely hungry and then it palled.

Then we strolled to the Scala Theatre and John got 2 dress circle seats for ‘La Dame aux Camelias’. Lydia Yavorska. Parts of it were a scream as all her things are, but she was very lovely in parts – and especially just at the end – she did look so dead. Some of the characters were vilely played. Ambrose Flower – he is rather winning – just like an Elenor Glynn [ sic] man – but just a prop for the dear Princess to fall up against – or on to. She looked a picture – but some of her frocks were hideous. Back by bus.’

The Scala Theatre was just behind Tottenham Road, on the corner of Charlotte and Tottenham streets. The theatre was only ten years old in 1914, built to the architect Frank Verity’s design in 1904 on the site of a series of older theatres. .

Kate doesn’t put the design of this production of ‘La Dame Aux Camelias’ in an artistic pigeon hole – but in the 15 July 1914 issue of  ‘Tatler’ it is described as ‘Futurist’. The article is titled ‘”Infernal Decorations or What Stripes and Squares a Love of Futurism is Leading Us.”‘ Perhaps it was the ‘stripes and squares’ that made some of the dresses appear ‘hideous’ in Kate’s eyes.

Lydia Yavorska

Kate refers to Lydia Yavorska (b. 1869) as ‘the dear Princess’ because the Russian-born actress had acquired by marriage the title Princess Bariatintsky.  Of her performance as Marguerite in this production ‘The Times’ critic wrote ‘she is not the actress to spare herself in the forcible delineation of the part’s emotion. Indeed her third act gave the opportunity for more tears and cries than we have ever heard or seen in a single act before.’ Kate had seen her playing Nora in ‘The Doll’s House’ on 30 March 1911 when she had described her as ‘a pretty creature and – in spite of her very broken English, excellent and so fascinating.’

‘La Dame Aux Camelias’ ran at the Scala from 22 June to 4 July 1914.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: Coming Soon: Kate Frye On Both The Small – And Even Smaller – Screens

 

ITV have issued this press release which includes mention of my forthcoming e-book, to be published by ITV, Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette.

ITV marks First World War centenary by telling the people’s story in partnership with Imperial War Museums

The extraordinary stories of ordinary people whose lives were transformed during the First World War will be told in their own words in a landmark new series for ITV, made in partnership with Imperial War Museums

Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the war in 1914, the experiences of men and women, young and old, from across Britain and the social classes that divided society at the time, are vividly brought to life in 4×60 series The Great War: The People’s Story, produced by Shiver [ITV Studios].

As part of ITV’s partnership with IWM, a book accompanying the series will also be published as well as three e-books. In addition to its partnership with IWM, ITV is also announcing two other programmes to mark the First World War centenary.

With narration from Olivia Colman, The Great War: The People’s Story tells the real-life stories of soldiers, from privates to officers, their wives and girlfriends left behind, and people from Britain’s villages and cities.  They are portrayed by a cast of actors including Alison Steadman, Daniel Mays, Claire Foy, Brian Cox, Romola Garai, MyAnna Buring and Matthew McNulty, who speak their words as they were written in their diaries and letters.

These moving accounts, revealing their intimate thoughts and feelings offer a raw insight into the profound impact of being caught up in a conflict that would change their lives – and Britain – forever.  Sourced from archives and libraries across the country, selected in partnership with Imperial War Museums, which provided much of the material, and brought to life by actors – each story conveys the hopes, fears, heroism and tragedies of countless ordinary British people…  made all the more powerful by the fact that every word is real.

Diane Lees, Director General of IWM, said: “IWM is pleased to have worked in partnership with ITV on the development of The People’s Story – The Great War. The Imperial War Museum was established while the First World War was still being fought, to ensure future generations would remember those who contributed during the conflict. This series, featuring a number of people whose diaries and letters are held in the museum’s archives, gives an insight into some of the experiences and innermost thoughts of individuals from the time. Now that the war is out of living memory, it is up to our generation to ensure that their stories are and continue to be told – the stories of ordinary people living through extraordinary times.”

Richard Klein, ITV Director of Factual, said: “This programme gives the stage to the authentic voice of the British people as they endured over four years of the greatest violence in human history. The diaries, letters and memoirs of privates and officers, wives and mothers, working class and the well-to-do all brilliantly and emotionally document the journey from the patriotism and positivity at the start of war to the gradual understanding of the deadly and mind-shattering realities of modern warfare to the final days of simple endurance and exhaustion. This is a beautifully composed portrait of a country during a war that changed everything for everyone.”

Ollie Tait, Executive Producer of The Great War: The People’s Story for Shiver added: “Alongside the heartbreak and horror of war, Britain was changing at an amazing pace for everyone and there is something hugely powerful about reliving this through the people who never thought their voices would be heard. We really wanted ‘The People’s Story’ to be a world apart from the usual approach to the First World War and to make it about us, to bring to life the treasured letters that are tucked away in attics across the nation.”

ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVS GE) and Imperial War Museums have signed a deal with Random House for The Great War: The People’s Story, a hardback non-fiction book to accompany the TV series. Written by Izzy Charman, the TV series producer, and published in partnership with Imperial War Museums, the book provides a narrative of the war years as seen through the eyes of the people featured in the show. The book will be available from 31st July.

ITVS GE will also be publishing three e-books based on three of the individuals in the TV series. Written by daughter Pamela Campbell, Reg Evans DCM – A Hero’s War In His Own Words is about a young soldier who was one of the first people to undergo facial surgery in Britain after a gunshot wound to the face. In Alan Lloyd – The Lost Generation, Izzy Charman tells the story of the just-married officer, a member of the privileged Lloyds banking family, who died in battle. Author Elizabeth Crawford explores the story of a working suffragette in Kate Parry Frye – The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette whose suffrage society turned to war work. All three e-books will be available from 31st July.

  • Press contact: 

grant.cunningham@itv.com

************************************************************************************

Romola Garai plays Kate Parry Frye in The Great War: The People’s Story.

Pic 1 Kate Jan 1906I tell the whole story of Kate’s life (1878-1959) – based on her own outstanding diaries – in Kate Parry Frye: The Long Life of an Edwardian Actress and Suffragette to be published by ITV as an e-book on 7 August 2014.

Kate’s years as the organizer for a suffrage society are told in Campaigning for the Vote: Kate Parry Frye’s Suffrage Diary, published by Francis Boutle in 2013.

Kate Frye cover

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Kate Frye’s Diary: What Happened When The Thames Flooded At Bourne End?

There is nothing new in Thames floods. Over 120 years ago (although from reading Kate Frye’s diary it seems like yesterday) the Thames overtopped the banks at Bourne End and flooded the garden of the Fryes’ home. Luckily the water did not enter the house, which is slightly raised from the lawn.

As Kate, then 13 years-old, noted –Saturday Oct 24th 1891. Woke to find the lawn flooded all over, right up to the bank. From ten until one we were on the water – which is quite deep – in canoes.

There was another flood  in June 1903, when this photograph of Agnes (on the left) and Kate was taken. The image was used by Mr and Mrs Frye for their 1903 Christmas card.

Kate Frye and her sister, Agnes, paddling a canoe on the lawn of their home, The Plat, at Bourne End, Buckinghamshire in October 1891

Kate Frye and her sister, Agnes, paddling a canoe on the lawn of their home, The Plat, at Bourne End, Buckinghamshire in June 1903. Photograph by A. Plummer, photographers, of 90 Queen Street, Maidenhead.

On 18 June 1903 Kate wrote in her diary: ‘Our lawn was covered and patches of water went nearly to the pigeon house. It came to the gate. It was so exciting. Agnes and I went to get to [Arthur] Wootten to get a canoe from Townsend’s for us – and we forthwith started. it was splendid sport – we were out all morning. Mrs Bird came along – then rushed back for her camera and photographed us – then Gilbert [Gilbey] arrived and did likewise – and then Plummers the photographer from Maidenhead who we had telegraphed for arrived and took several views.

The water is right in the Quarry Hotel now and up to the centre of the door at Bridge Bungalow. A day like this it is most picturesque but what a disastrous June. We have had to put off our Ascot party – the river won’t be in a fit state for weeks.’

Sunday 21 June 1903 ‘We went across to Cock Marsh in the afternoon and we had great fun. It was wonderful going down stream – we simply tore and going through the Bridge was like shooting the rapids. We had to go down to Mill House before we could get on to Cock Marsh.’

KateYou can discover much more about Kate Frye’s life in Bourne End (and, later, in the nearby hamlet of Berghers Hill) in The Great War: The People’s Story – Kate Parry Frye: the long life of an Edwardian actress and suffragette. This is an e-book published by ITV as a tie-in with the new series The Great War: The People’s Story. Kate Frye, played by Romola Garai, appears in episode 2 – to be shown on ITV at 9pm on 17 August. Download the e-book – £4.99 – from iTunes – : http://bit.ly/PSeBKPFITVal. or  £5. 14 from Amazon.

, ,

Leave a comment