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Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleBrunner (née Irving); Lady; (Dorothea) Elizabeth (1904-2003); voluntary worker
Box Fetch NoBox 1-8
Extent8 A boxes
Admin Biographical HistoryLady Elizabeth Brunner, née Irving (1904-2003), came from a famous theatrical family. She was the daughter of Dorothea Baird and HB Irving and granddaughter of Henry Irving. She was educated at home and then at South Hampstead high school, London, Oxford high school, and Wycombe Abbey. She left at sixteen to train as an actress in Oxford (under Rosina Filippi) and in London (under Komisarjevsky). In the early 1920s she acted in both classical plays, including as Titania in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', and in the silent film of Charlotte Brontë's novel Shirley (1922). When she married Felix (later Sir Felix) Brunner in 1937 they moved to live at Greys Court near Henley. Lady Brunner joined the Women's Institute in the village and soon became local President. She trained as a Voluntary County Organiser in 1941, was elected to the Oxfordshire Federation executive committee and became County Chair and subsequently, in 1944, she was elected onto the National Executive Committee. She served as National Chairman from 1951-1956 and remained active in the WI both locally and nationally thereafter.
It was on behalf of the Oxfordshire Federation that Lady Brunner proposed, at the 1945 AGM, the resolution that NFWI should establish its own adult education college. She subsequently became a member of the subcommittee set up to explore the idea further. It was realised in 1948 with the foundation of Denman College, Marcham. In 1970, funded partly by a generous anonymous donation, the Teaching Centre and the Brunner residences were built. Her interest in and generous support of the College continued throughout her life.
At the 1954 AGM the NFWI passed a resolution which resulted in the formation of the Keep Britain Tidy Group the following year. Lady Brunner was the founding chairman of the new group, was its President from 1966-1985, and then its Senior Vice-President until her death. For this work she was appointed OBE in 1964. She was also a JP for a great many years, chairman of the Women's Group on Public Welfare for ten years from 1960, and chairman of the Henley and District Housing Trust. From 1968 to 1971 she was a member of the general advisory council of the BBC.

[These biographical notes have been compiled from text originally created for the NFWI web site in 2005 by Anne Stamper, NFWI Honorary Archivist, and from Elizabeth Brunner's Dictionary of National Biography entry written by Lady Shirley Anglesey].
Custodial HistoryDonated by Lady Brunner's son Hugo Brunner on the 20 December 2018.
DescriptionThe archive consists of:

Papers relating to the National Federation of Women's Institutes, 1941-2018 (BRUNNER/1), including:
- Print material and ephemera
- VCO (Voluntary County Organiser) portfolio
- Scripts for talks by Elizabeth Brunner
- Some biographical notes and items from Brunner's NFWI Office file

Letters from Lady Brunner's WI colleagues, 1943-2003 (BRUNNER/2-3).

Material relating to the Keep Britain Tidy Group, 1958-2002 (BRUNNER/4-7), including:
- Annual reports
- AGM and Executive Committee minutes and papers
- Reports on research projects, including some commissioned by KBTG
- Papers relating to conferences on litter
- Correspondence
- Learning kit for schools

Papers relating to the Women's Group on Public Welfare, 1943-1977 (BRUNNER/8), including:
- Print material
- Reports of the Joint Conference of the WGPW and Standing Conferences of Women's Organisations
- Correspondence

KBTG - Keep Britain Tidy Group
NFWI - National Federation of Women's Institutes
WI - Women's Institute
WGPW - Women's Group on Public Welfare
Related MaterialThe Women's Library also holds the Records of the National Federation of Women's Institutes (5FWI) and the Records of the Women's Forum and its Predecessors (5WFM).
Access StatusOpen
Copyright TypeCopyright is held by the depositor
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