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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleColeman, Mrs Gwen
Ref No8SUF/B/171
Box Fetch NoBox 1: Disc 35
Date21 Sep 1977
Extent90:24 mins
Admin Biographical HistorySee biography for Gwen Coleman
DescriptionInterview took place at Green Willow, Shiplake Bottom, Peppard, Henley-on-Thames.

Interview summary:
0:00 mins:
Her family background; Huguenot on her father's side (Chambers), Scottish (McGibbins) on her mother's. Description of her family as a 'rebel family'. Her father's occupation. How her father moved with work (Inland Revenue). His death when she was 11years old. Moving to Wales after her father's death. Moving to Bath where her mother carried out work on behalf of the Children's Charter (Children's Act 1908). Her job as a dispenser in Bath. Her family's politics. Being approached by the secretary of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). Her work campaigning around the country for the NUWSS, holding meetings, talking to prominent members of the town etc. How she systematically spread NUWSS propaganda when appointed itinerant lecturer. Trouble caused to the women's suffrage campaign by militants. Main support for the cause coming from female taxpayers and women who supported limited franchise. Comparing the NUWSS with Womens Liberation Movement. Her salary. Correspondence with the NUWSS headquarters in London..

15:00 mins:
Her interest in social work. Moving to London to take the Sanitary Inspection Exam at the Royal Sanitary Institute. Return to Bath. The start of the first world war. Attending Kings College, London to do a degree in Social Science and Economics. How meeting Noel Buxton PC led to her working for Charles Roden Buxton. Touring England with Charles Buxton for the Peace by Negotiation Group in the First World War. Comparing this with touring for suffrage. Hearing about the Russian revolution whilst touring in Sunderland. Hearing about the end of the First World War whilst she was in Bradford. Engaged when she was 21. Moving to Rhodesia to marry her fiancé. Teaching speech & drama (qualification from Trinity College, London). Her running a multi racial theatre company and an evening school in Rhodesia.

30:00 mins:
Her return to England just before the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) of Rhodesia (1965) for family reasons. Her admiration for her mother, a non conformist and a fighter. Her mother's attitude towards the suffrage movement and work for the liberal candidate in Bath for the 1906 election. Her mother's work with young girls and women in poverty. Her father's first wife and her half brother in India. Her parent's relationship. Their idealism. Her father's death. How her mother coped. Her political education in school. Admiration for her headmistress. Her mother's encouragement for her involvement with suffrage. Joining the Theosophy Society. Meeting Mrs Annie Besant.

45:00 mins:
A meeting with Mrs Despard and becoming a vegetarian. Description of Mrs Despard. Her continuing interest in theosophy and religion. Her description of her duties as a secretary for the NUWSS. Advancing to speak at meetings. Her attitude towards militancy in the movement. Christabel Pankhurst and the Pethick-Lawrences. Her correspondence with Mr Fredrick Pethick-Lawrence. The co-existence of the NUWSS and the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Bath. Working with ED Morel in the Union of Democratic Control (UDC). Her tendency to leave organisations soon after joining. Her admiration for Maude Royden. The attitude of different parts of the country to suffrage.

60:00 mins:
Finding the North and Wales more sympathetic to suffrage. Welsh male support for suffrage. Helen Fraser. Support from miners. The 1913 Pilgrimage. Opposition in various places. Provisions whilst on pilgrimage. Conditions while touring and speaking around the country. Anecdote about Christabel Pankhurst at a meeting. The importance of the movement in her life. Her thoughts on the differences between the suffragette movement and the women's liberation movement.

75:00 mins:
Her passion for causes. Suffragist concern for respectable appearance. The support of Quakers for both the suffrage and the peace movement. Her attitude toward the United Front. Her experiences speaking to large meetings. Sylvia Pankhurst.
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsInterview recordings are available online and can be accessed at the link provided in this record.
Former Reference NumberTape 65
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