Posts Tagged worthing

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 On her death forty-five years later she left behind a box of unpublished scripts – and one that was published.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.

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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.

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

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

Kate Frye, suffrage organizer, 1913

 

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

Friday July 3rd 1914

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

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

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

Joseph Chamberlain

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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