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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleFairfield, Dr, Letitia
Ref No8SUF/B/126
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 26
Date17 Feb 1977
Extent126a - 41:05 mins, 126b - 47:44 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biography for Dr Letitia Fairfield
DescriptionInterview took place at Joan Bartlett Ward, St Mary Abbott's Hospital, Marloes Road, London W8. Also see interview 8SUF/B/118. Interview is in two parts 8SUF/B/126a and 8SUF/B/126b.

Interview summary, 8SUF/B/126a:
0:00 mins:
Joined the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in 1911 while working at a Manchester hospital. When the Pankhursts opened a London office she joined the Independent Labour Party. Joined the Fabian Society Women's Group (FWG) because of Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb. Left it several years later when promoted within the London County Council (LCC) under Herbert Morrison. Working with epileptics and mentally handicapped. Eugenists. Leonard Huxley. The Eugenics Society for sterilisation. Joined the Fabian Society. Fabian Society Women's Group lectures and discussions.

15:00 mins:
School leaving age. In the FWG she represented the mentally handicapped, and Dr Ethel Bentham the working class. Graham Wallas the link with the LCC. The FWG very democratic. 'Major' Clement Attlee a silent but valuable member. He and his wife stayed at the Barnet settlement. Fairfield was on the executive of the FWG for eight years. Leslie Haden Guest. The FWG met in Caxton Hall and in the Fabian offices. She prepared pamphlets and gave lectures. Took the chair for Sylvia Pankhurst in Hyde Park, didn't like her. FWG members all suffragists but not many suffragettes.

30:00 mins:
Trade unions considered FWG dangerous middle class interference. Scottish crowds better educated politically than English. Her father's anti-Catholicism and anti-suffragism. Anti-suffragism in the medical profession. She was held back but helped by her two chiefs. She joined the Church League for Women's Suffrage and became a Catholic, had been an Anglican. Opposed sterilisation and euthanasia.

Interview summary, 8SUF/B/126b:
0:00 mins:
The Church League very mixed and like the Actresses' Franchise League did valuable work. Reverend Green, Bishop (Charles) Gore, and Claude Hinscliff. The Church League faded away when war began, became the League of Church Militants. Maude Royden not wise. The myth that after the First World War there were seven women to every man. Mary Gawthorpe of the WSPU. Fairfield and Gawthorpe campaigned in Harrogate with the help of Fairfield's younger sister, Rebecca West.

15:00 mins:
Male support for suffragism. Educated middle class ignorance of the 'sweated' industries. Adela Pankhurst a specialist on low pay. Jute making girls in Dundee got ten shillings a week. Better paid jobs reserved for men. Women paid less because their 'underclothes were cheaper'. Male supporters were from the Labour party. Rebecca West's suffragism began at the age of 18. Her connection with The Freewoman. Her admiration for Mary Gawthorpe. Writing for The Clarion. Fairfield converted to Catholicism in the 1920s. Her opposition to birth control.

30:00 mins:
Knew Marie Stopes for many years as an enemy. Stopes was half right but positively deluded. She gave advice that was quite wrong, and she became 'crazy' over her own child. She thought Jesuits were conspiring against her. When having her second child, by caesarean section, she insisted that no Catholics should be among the staff.

45:00 mins:
Fairfield's qualified opposition to birth control. Against permissiveness in the young.
Related Record8SUF/B/118
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 44
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