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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleGroom-Smith, Mrs Gladys
Ref No8SUF/B/092
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 20
Date9 Jun 1976
Extent170:00 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biographies for Gladys Groom-Smith, Emmeline and Fred Pethick-Lawrence
DescriptionInterview took place at Arden Loch, 121 Malthouse Lane, Earlswood, Nr Solihull, Birmingham B94 5RZ. Interview in 2 parts: 8SUF/B/092a and 8SUF/B/092b. Interviewee was an employee of the Pethick-Lawrences. Also see interview 8SUF/B/102 and other interviews related to the Pethick-Lawrences [8SUF/B/090, 8SUF/B/097].

Interview summary:
0:00 mins:
How she got a job at the Women's International League as secretary in 1922. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's offer of training; working for Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence; helping Esther Knowles whilst ill; became Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's secretary on death of Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence; Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's loneliness. Her devotion to the Pethick-Lawrences and the difficulties this made for her husband Emmeline's attraction for younger men. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's love of young people; her attitude towards them; Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence as a speaker in the No More War movement. Personality of Helen Craggs (second Lady Pethick-Lawrence). Contrast between Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Helen Craggs. The First World War. Gladys's role at Fourways. Emmeline's incapacity in domestic matters.

15:00 mins:
Fred Pethick-Lawrence's need for companionship in later life. His second marriage to Helen Craggs. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's delight in birthdays and Christmas. Fred's background and childhood. His affection for herself and Esther Knowles whom he regarded as daughters. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's personality; Gladys's assistance in care of Frederick Pethick-Lawrence in later life; his concerns when Secretary of State for India. The Pethick-Lawrences' Golden Wedding; attitude to material things. Mrs Groom-Smith's relationship with Esther Knowles. Esther's off-putting appearance but warm personality. The success of their teamwork. Fred Pethick-Lawrence's tolerance of Mrs Groom-Smith's Conservative views. Esther Knowles's role; her character and appearance, working life and relationship with Frederick Pethick-Lawrence and Gladys.

30:00 mins:
Frederick Pethick-Lawrence as an employer; not class conscious; office formalities, his sense of humour and domination of conversation. Not able to bear fools. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's walks with Gladys after Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's death. His energy even in later years. The Women's International League and No More War Society, their membership and leaders.

45:00 mins:
Offices of International Women's League in the early 1920s, and the activities there. Mrs [Helena] Swanwick, Catherine Marshall, Dorothy Evans [see interview 8SUF/B/034]. The organisation of the society and the officers; their dress and characters.

60:00 mins:
Pethick-Lawrences' views on equality. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's disappointment at small number of women MPs. Her male friends: Henry Harben, Victor Duval. The Minerva Club in the 1920s. Friendship with Dorothy Evans and her mother. Dorothy's permission for Gladys to become Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's secretary. Worked under Esther Knowles; her training. Domestic arrangements at Fourways.

75:00 mins:
Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrences' many interests. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence becoming an MP. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and the Women's International Freedom League, Six Point Group. Their London flat and furnishings; Fourways and its purchase, garden, servants, recreational activities. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's indifference to clothes and Spartan nature. The secretaries' salaries.

90:00 mins:
Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's attitude to waste, his energy in old age, his sense of humour. Visit to Ireland with Gladys. Their autobiographies. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's stroke and recovery. Attitude to health and nutrition. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's death, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's reaction. Their marriage. Thee Importance of family life to Emmeline.

105.00 mins:
Their wealth. Emmeline's understanding of Frederick; the uniqueness of their marriage. Contrast in their styles of writing and learning. Role played by Gladys and Esther Knowles in their autobiographies. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, crossing swords with Philip Snowden; his dislike of signing death warrants. Gandhi.

120.00 mins:
Frederick's ability to write from memory. Criticism of Vera Brittain's biography. Fred and Emmeline's different working styles. The family's financial arrangements. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's illness.

00.00 mins:
How Gladys became involved with Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence on a personal level. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's speaking ability and coaching of Frederick Pethick-Lawrence. Emmeline and Theosophy . Esther Knowles's education of Gladys. Esther and Gladys's politics and argument over the abdication of Edward VII. Esther's family background. Gladys's first year working for Emmeline and Fred.

15.00 mins:
Work as office girl. Evening classes for secretarial training. Esther's retirement. Work for Pethick-Lawrences. Frederick Pethick-Lawrence's adherence to time-tables, his dislike of time-wasting, his apparent brusqueness, his detailed organisation. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's disorgaiseddisorganised nature. Their different approaches to letter-writing. Similarities between Helen Cragg and Emmeline.

30.00 mins:
Emmeline's reading matter.Their marriage. The daily timetable in London.
Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's habits.

45.00 mins:
Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence's friends. Pioneers in equality and freedom in marriage.
Related Record8SUF/B/090
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 30
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