New display celebrates Women’s History Month at The Keep!

8 March 2018

By Eleanor King

For Women’s History Month this year, a display has gone up in our reception area highlighting some of the lesser known heroines of our collections. Pictured below, the display loosely takes the themes of ‘a woman in a man’s world’ and the power of the female voice and friendship. The women featured all created something unique in their lifetimes and all have contributed to the place of women in the 21st century. To gather these women together, I put a call out to the ladies of The Keep for their champions and unsung heroines, and sure enough the call was answered.

A women whose archive I‘ve wanted to explore in more detail for while is that of the remarkable Dr Rosey Pool, whose scrapbooks of her time working with African America poets in the United States I have had the pleasure of being able to leaf through in teaching sessions. Dutch-born Dr Pool studied in Berlin until the expansion of the Nazi regime forced her return to Amsterdam, where she became a teacher, counting Anne Frank among her pupils. She had formed an interest in African American poetry at university and during the war continued to seek out and collect works by poets and artists. Following the war, Pool spent time in America, lecturing and speaking out in favour of civil rights, desegregation and championed the work of unknown African American poets and artists. Her archive includes a wealth of poetry from the middle of the 20th century, as well as much of her own writing. A recent display at The Keep featured a book from Rosey Pool’s archive that underwent conservation last year. A piece written by Special Collections Supervisor Rose Lock about this book and its conservation can be found on the University of Sussex library staff blog.

Eva Ehrenberg, a woman in a man's world; SxMs96/14/1

Eva Ehrenberg, a woman in a man’s world; SxMs96/14/1

Another woman I knew I had to feature was Tilly Edinger, an eminent scientist whose pioneering work led to the discovery of ‘paleo neurology’. It was Samira Teuteberg, archivist for the German-Jewish collections held at The Keep, who told me about Dr Edinger; knowing my interest in all things ‘Jurassic Park’, she knew a woman who pioneered the study of dinosaur brains was always going to pique my interest. Tilly Edinger led me to Eva Ehrenberg, her cousin and a translator and writer. I came across a photograph that, for me, embodies the phrase ‘a woman in a man’s world’, featuring Eva Ehrenberg at work at her desk in an office alone, on one side of the room whilst a group of men sit around at a desk on the other side of the room. The two parties could be occupying entirely separate spaces; Eva is isolated and ignored, working alone while the men appear to be deep in discussion. A copy of this photograph is now part of the display, alongside material related to the work of Tilly Edinger.

Despite Tilly’s move to America to pursue her career, she and Eva maintained a correspondence and a friendship. This got me thinking about the importance of female friendships and how empowering they can be, and I wanted to find other examples in our collections.

It was Rose Lock who alerted me to the incredible women of the Cooperative Correspondence Club, the CCC, who, following a call for help from a lonely mother in Nursery World magazine, created a publication written by the women, for the women and only to be read by CCC members. The magazine ran from 1935-1990 starting with 24 contributors who all wrote under pseudonyms and formed close friendships over the years. The power of being given a voice cannot be underestimated, and the CCC offered women across the country a chance to have their voices heard and their opinions counted in a world where they may have otherwise been ignored or undervalued.

In keeping with the theme of female friendship and comradery, East Sussex archivist Anna Manthorpe directed me to the Women’s Institute records we hold from chapters across the county. These include reports, minutes and record books, and we also hold several scrapbooks created to celebrate key events such the Golden Jubilee. On display are some images taken from the Falmer WI scrapbook from 1965 that feature a run-down of the year’s activities, including thoughts on the impact the new university will have on the village. Community groups such as the WI provided a space for women to work beyond the male gaze and their domestic arrangements, forming friendships and contributing to their local communities.

Portrait of Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, ACC 8642/1/19

Portrait of Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, ACC 8642/1/19

Other women who feature in the display include Mrs Mary Philadelphia Merrifield, a Brighton-based writer and translator from the 19th Century. She took herself off to France and Italy to study the Old Masters and later studied marine life, becoming a leading algologist (seaweed expert). A blog about Merrifield written for International Women’s Day in 2016 by archive assistant Emma Skinner can be read here. Brighton and Hove colleague Kate Elms and archive assistant Lindsey Tydeman also provided me with the names of many great women, including politician and activist Margaret Bondfield, pioneering physician Dr Helen Boyle and women’s rights campaigner Barbara Bodichon, all of whom have local connections but have made an impact historically.

The archives at The Keep are full of fascinating, remarkable and extraordinary women; from scientific pioneers to outspoken activists, to housewives seeking friendship. We hope you will inspired to come and find out more, or perhaps to discover your own family heroine? In 2018, the female voice is being heard perhaps louder than ever before, let’s keep it up!


Women of Sussex – Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon (1827-1891)


Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Collotype, 1861, after Samuel Laurence © National Portrait Gallery, London

Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon, Collotype, 1861, after Samuel Laurence © National Portrait Gallery, London

8 March 2018

By Lindsey Tydeman

When one thinks of 19th-century feminist pioneers, the name Barbara Bodichon does not spring to mind. History associates her neither with medicine (Elizabeth Blackwell), the vote (Millicent Fawcett), health and hospitals (Florence Nightingale), secondary education (the Misses Beale and Buss) or higher education (Emily Davis). Yet at different stages of her life she committed time, energy and huge amounts of money to all of these in the name of the ‘freedom and justice we English women struggle for’.

Born in 1827 in Whatlington, near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, Barbara Leigh Smith was always going to experience the chill of social exclusion as well as the freedom and privilege of wealth. Her father Benjamin Smith was the son of William Smith, the abolitionist and Unitarian spokesman in parliament. Benjamin inherited the family’s commitment to social improvement, particularly education, and founded an infant school in Westminster which also provided food, sewing lessons and baths. Although Ben Smith was committed to Barbara’s mother, a milliner called Anne Longden, they never married and his children were not publicly acknowledged by his married siblings and their families. After Anne Longden’s early death in August 1834, Benjamin Smith rented a house in Pelham Crescent, Hastings, and provided tutors, governesses and riding masters in a free-thinking environment where the girls enjoyed early independence, received drawing lessons and mixed with visiting and local artists. Art and ‘the sisterhood’ would the dominating themes of Barbara’s life, often intertwining but sometimes pulling her in different ways. In 1862, she acknowledged the temptation of art; it was much more enjoyable than these, ‘dusty dirty attempts to help one’s fellow creatures’ with, ‘long sojourns in stifling rooms with miserable people’.

On reaching the age of 21, Barbara received an investment portfolio from her father which gave her financial independence. It may have been a mixed blessing; while she could now afford to spend time painting, writing and organising projects of political and social reform, the need to earn a living, which was acting as an impetus for several women who would later be at the forefront of feminist initiatives, had been removed. She also learned that her father had a second illegitimate family with a woman he had met after her mother’s death. These children were not acknowledged by Barbara and her siblings.

Letter written by Barbara from her family home in Hastings about a donation to a local hospital building fund; AMS 7031/1

Letter written by Barbara from her family home in Hastings about a donation to a local hospital building fund; AMS 7031/1

In 1848, Barbara had her first article published in the Hastings and St Leonards News. ‘An Appeal to the Inhabitants of Hastings’ wished that reformers would give the same energy to social health issues as the Church of England did to the distribution of Bibles. This was followed by pieces denouncing the enforced ignorance of middle-class women, the foolishness of feminine fashion (particularly tight corsets) and ‘The Education of Women’, pleading with parents to let their daughters follow their interests in art or politics ‘unmolested’. The following year she attended drawing classes at the new Ladies College in Bedford Square, Bloomsbury, and enjoyed unchaperoned art trips with friends through Germany and Europe.

Barbara’s A Brief Summary, in Plain Language, of the Most Important Laws concerning Women of 1854 was her summary of Wharton’s 550-page Exposition of the Laws relating to the Women of England, published in 1853. The short book was meant to be read in a single sitting, with salient points highlighting the propertied single woman’s inability to vote and the married woman’s legal state of being ‘absorbed’ by her husband. In November the same year, her much-cherished project, that of a progressive infant school where social classes mixed together, Portman Hall School, opened near the Edgware Road in London.

In 1856, Barbara drafted a petition for the reform of laws affecting women which secured 3,000 signatures and was presented in parliament the same year. She produced the pamphlet Women and Work, an argument for the right of middle-class women to have professions without losing gentility or perceived ‘femininity’, and became a founding member of The Society of Female Artists, creating a space in which women could display and sell their works. She was instrumental in securing lecture halls and local receptions for Elizabeth Blackwell’s first lectures on ‘Medicine as a Profession for the ladies’. The same year, having narrowly escaped a sexual liaison with her publisher Chapman – which would have undoubtedly ruined her socially – her father took his daughters to Algiers for the winter where Barbara met and soon married the eccentric and philanthropic French doctor Eugène Bodichon. Future years would be divided between Britain and Algiers. In Sussex she would paint; in London, from her home and political base in Blandford Square, she would organise reforming committees; and from Algiers, in-between art expeditions, she would direct funds and instructions back to London.

Census return showing Barbara living at Scalands Gate, near Brightling, just before her death in 1891

Census return showing Barbara living at Scalands Gate, near Brightling, just before her death in 1891

In 1858, Barbara and her childhood friend Bessie Parkes established a new magazine, The Englishwoman’s Journal. Its headquarters in Langham Place had a ladies reading room, a luncheon room, and, briefly, a women’s employment exchange. She was at the height of her campaigning energy. In 1859 she headed a petition of 39 women artists to force the Royal Academy to admit women students to its schools; in 1866, she was instrumental in the campaign for extending the franchise to female householders. In 1872, she put down the first £1000 towards what would eventually become Girton College, Cambridge.

Photograph of a book cover from the Bodichon Lending Library, AMS 7031/2

Photograph of a book cover from the Bodichon Lending Library, AMS 7031/2

In later years, Barbara Bodichon drew fulfilment from more personal projects which brought immediate results. She supported several women through higher education, assisting their families financially to free them to attend university colleges. After retirement to her house at Scalands Gate in Sussex following a stroke, she asked Gertrude Jekyll to design an addition to the house which would serve as a reading room, library and night school for young working men who could not read or write. She donated liberally to local hospitals and charities. After her death in June 1891, the Sussex Agricultural Express reported that around 50 members of the night school preceded her funeral cortege on its journey from Scalands Gate to the church at Brightling. ‘The basis of Madame’s character,’ wrote J Piper in his History of Robertsbridge (1906), ‘was a sense of abstract justice.’

Further reading

Pam Hirsch, Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon 1827-1891: Feminist, Artist and Rebel (1998)




Henry Fawcett and Millicent Garrett Fawcett, campaigners for female suffrage

8 March 2017

By Kate Elms

It might seem strange on International Women’s Day to focus on a married couple, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and her husband Henry Fawcett. It’s certainly true that Millicent’s achievements and legacy speak for themselves – she was an early and active campaigner for female suffrage and for higher education for women, and the Fawcett Society, founded in 1866 to fight for gender equality, is named after her. But Henry Fawcett, Brighton’s Liberal MP from 1865 to 1874, was equally committed to the idea of votes for women and encouraged Millicent in both her campaigning and her writing. Theirs appears to have been an equal partnership, which seems worth celebrating.

Henry Fawcett and Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett by Ford Madox Brown; oil on canvas, 1872, NPG 1603, copyright National Portrait Gallery, London

Henry Fawcett and Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett by Ford Madox Brown; oil on canvas, 1872, NPG 1603, copyright National Portrait Gallery, London

Millicent Garrett was born in 1847 in Suffolk into a large family in which freedom of speech and political debate was encouraged. At the age of 12, she was sent to boarding school in London, where her elder sister Elizabeth was studying, and it was there, in 1865, that she first heard the radical MP John Stuart Mill speak on women’s rights. Mill was one of the first men to argue against the subordination of women and, in 1866, presented a petition to Parliament on behalf of Elizabeth and a group of women known as the Kensington Society, demanding the right to vote. The petition failed, but it had gained a significant number of signatures as well as the support of certain MPs, suggesting that some men agreed with them. Henry Fawcett was one of these men.

Born in Salisbury in 1833, Fawcett was educated at Cambridge and initially planned a career in law. He was blinded in a shooting accident at the age of 25, but pursued his studies, becoming Professor of Political Economy in 1863. Two years later, he was elected MP for Brighton. A man with profoundly liberal views, he joined Mill and other radical members of parliament in campaigning for equal rights for women, which brought him into contact with Elizabeth Garrett and her circle.

In 1865, he proposed to Elizabeth but she turned him down, choosing instead to focus on her medical studies (she later became Britain’s first female doctor). Henry then met and fell in love with Millicent, Elizabeth’s younger sister, and the pair were married on 23 April 1867. Their meeting was described in Fawcett’s biography A Beacon for the Blind as, ‘the beginning of a rare understanding between two strangely harmonious and independent natures … their affection rested on a strong foundation of common principles and interests and of the love of freedom and justice.’ The couple had one child, Philippa, who was born in 1868.

Millicent assisted her husband in his work as an MP, while he encouraged her in her career as a writer. In 1870, she wrote Political Economy for Beginners and, in the same year, delivered a lecture at Brighton Town Hall on the ‘electoral disabilities of women’ which was reported at length in the local press.  She became a well-known speaker, not just on women’s issues but on political and academic subjects too, at a time when few women expressed their views on public platforms.

Millicent Garrett Fawcett's lecture advertised in the Brighton Gazette, 17 March 1870

Millicent Garrett Fawcett’s lecture advertised in the Brighton Gazette, 17 March 1870

Meanwhile, Henry supported Mill’s proposed (but unsuccessful) amendment to the 1867 Reform Act, which would give women the same political rights as men, and campaigned for equal access to further education and employment. In 1872, he and Millicent co-produced Essays and Lectures on Social and Political Subjects, and the couple had their portrait painted by Ford Madox Brown; the finished artwork was bequeathed to the National Portrait Gallery in 1911.

Henry Fawcett remained MP for Brighton until 1874, after which he represented Hackney. He was appointed Postmaster General by Gladstone in 1880, and in this role he continued to champion women’s rights, extending their employment opportunities and, after taking advice from his sister-in-law Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, appointing women doctors to care for them. He died in 1884 at the age of 51.

Millicent was only 37 at the time of her husband’s sudden and premature death, and within a short time, she was back at work campaigning for women’s suffrage, among many other things. She became leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, the main Suffragist organisation in the country, with far more members than the more militant Women’s Social and Political Union. Committed to a pragmatic, law-abiding approach, she distanced herself from the more violent campaigning inspired by Suffragettes such as the Pankhursts in the early years of the 20th century, but she acknowledged the impact their actions had on the overall movement, and is said to have commended the bravery of the women who faced imprisonment.

Millicent died in 1929 and until the end of her life she fought for equal access for women not just to the right to vote, but also to education, employment and divorce. Fittingly, she was present in the gallery of the House of Lords to see the Equal Franchise Act passed in 1928, more than 60 years after her first involvement in the struggle, one of the few women involved from the beginning to end.








Clare Sheridan – A Woman Ahead of Her Time

22 March 2016

Nestled in a few boxes at The Keep are many photographs and negatives (dating from around 1915 to the 1950s) of the fascinating sculptor, photographer, journalist and writer Clare Consuelo Sheridan (nee Frewen).
Jenny Geering, who has been digitising some of this material, writes about this extraordinary woman.

Early Years

Clare was born in 1885 to Moreton Frewen, a man of good gentry who suffered some financial misadventures, and his wife Clarita, the daughter of an American financier. She had a varied and interesting childhood, enjoying trips to London, seeing her cousin Winston (Churchill) and spending time with her mother and aunts. There were also visits with King Milan of Serbia (he doted on Clare, calling her ‘darling’, and brought all the children gifts; he may also have been her mother’s lover). There was a sense of loneliness too, as her parents did not have much time to spend with their children; they were left under the supervision of a nurse and subsequently a governess.

Clare Sheridan photography

Examples of Clare Sheridan’s photography

At the age of 14, Clare was sent to a convent in Paris but this was a miserable time for her. Despite speaking fluent French, she was not able to relate to other girls of her own age and they bullied her for being English. After Clare declared that she wanted to be Catholic, not Protestant, so that she could fit in with the other girls, her mother withdrew her from the convent and sent her to live with a Protestant family in Darmstadt. After some time being ‘finished’ (going to opera and museums), she returned home to her parents.

Becoming an Independent Young Woman

In May 1903, Clare met a young man named Wilfred Sheridan at her first ball and was instantly smitten with this charming and handsome man. He too was taken with her but was aware of her family’s financial problems. Other ‘suitable’ men showed interest in young Clare, but she did not reciprocate. Her cousin Winston stayed in touch via letter and when she shared the fact that she’d like to write a book herself, he supported her dream of finding independence for herself.

At this point, Clare and her parents lived mainly at the beautiful Brede Place in Sussex and they entertained famous characters of that time, including Rudyard Kipling and Henry James. These authors encouraged Clare with her literary pursuits and passions. Soon after this, Clare befriended the Prime Minister’s daughter, Violet Asquith, who asked if she would write an article on her behalf for the National Review; Clare took to this with great gusto and earned her first income.

Romantic Pursuits

Despite a proposal from a kind, older suitor, Clare could not escape thoughts of Wilfred. Her Aunt Jennie invited both Clare and Wilfred to dinner and , hearing of her prior proposal, Wilfred himself proposed and Clare accepted. In October 1910, they were married in a large ceremony attended by members of the royal family and the Cabinet.

Children and the First Sculptures

Clare gave birth to a first daughter, Margaret, in 1912 and her second daughter, Elizabeth, in 1913. Sadly Elizabeth became ill with tuberculosis and passed away in 1914. Wanting to create a memorial for Elizabeth’s grave, Clare learned how to sculpt with clay and relished this creative outlet. At the same time, she took many photographs of Margaret, their home and her family and spent time creating sculptures of the heads of her friends’ children.

When the First World War broke out, Wilfred left Clare, who was pregnant again, at home whilst he went and fought. At the end of September 1915, Richard ‘Dick’ Sheridan was born and a few days later Wilfred Sheridan was lost in battle.

Her Own Income

By 1919, Clare’s independence and income were growing – she was able to earn hundreds of pounds a year but it still was not quite enough. Thanks to a very large donation from an American colonel who admired her work, Clare was able to focus more on her bust bronzes – her subjects included her friend Princess Patricia of Connaught, former prime minister Herbert Asquith, and writer HG Wells. In mid-1920, Clare was invited to travel to Russia to sculpt busts of revolutionaries. The British government objected to her going but, being the stubborn, determined young woman she was, she went anyway, and stayed for a couple months, allegedly having affairs with a few of her sitters. Cousin Winston discovered her exploits and was livid, as were many people back in England. Soon after, she left for America.


Initially Clare spent time doing publicity (which she resented) for her new book Mayfair to Moscow but soon she was arranging an exhibition of her art and taking commissions again. She had to stand up to her father (who was never very supportive) and to justify herself as a mother to her own children, but things improved and Clare’s writing became well known across America. She was offered a trip to LA at the expense of MGM Studios as Charlie Chaplin was eager to meet her after reading Mayfair to Moscow. Clare and Charlie got on wonderfully, despite having incredibly different backgrounds, and even little Dick adored him. However the press put pressure on their relationship and it soon came to a close.

More Travel

She spent the next few years travelling through Europe as a journalist and, after returning to London in the mid-1920s, published two novels on travel in quick succession. During the early 1930s, Clare visited Africa, where she took many photographs, but at around this time Dick became heir to the Frewen House at Frampton, which the family needed to sell.

Tragically, Dick died of complications from appendicitis in 1937, and Clare was inconsolable. Her loss did not stop her travelling, however; she set off for America, where she joined an art colony on a Native American reserve. Here she started carving wood into beautiful art, which she later exhibited.

Second World War

Once war started, Clare returned to Brede Place. By 1942, Winston had asked her to do another bust of him, possibly to represent a time of such prominence for him. After the war, Clare converted to Catholicism and moved to a Franciscan convent in Ireland. Clare still expressed herself with her sculpture whilst living here, moving in to her own house but still visiting the convent. Life had begun to quieten down for Clare by the end of the war but she still wrote and released a book called To the Four Winds. At this point, Clare had really rejected England but still travelled and made her way to Greece, where she began to carve in marble. Clare came down dysentery after visiting Biskra and seeing no improvement, returned to England as she sensed the end was imminent. Clare Sheridan finally passed on, on 31 May 1970 aged 84, leaving a legacy of art, writing, photographs and stories behind her.

The Clare Sheridan material held at The Keep forms part of the Frewen Family Archive. It includes photographs and glass-plate negatives, drawings and illustrations, newspaper cuttings, letters and family papers. The material is currently being catalogued and is not yet available to order, but watch this space for future updates!


International Women’s Day: Mrs Mary Philadelphia Merrifield (1804-1889)

8 March 2016

By Emma Skinner

ACC 8642/1/19 Mary P MerrifieldMrs Mary Philadelphia Merrifield was one of only a handful of women who established themselves as experts in their field at a time when science and academia were dominated by men. An accomplished linguist, a specialist in Old Master paintings and having written on topics such as colour pigmentation and the art of dress, Merrifield was a diverse and ambitious scholar. By the end of her life she was considered an authority on seaweeds and had papers published in various scientific journals including the Annals of Botany and Journal of Linnaen Society. Her interests reflected the Victorian sense of enquiry towards understanding the natural world and curiosity for collecting.

Commissioned by the Royal Commission on Fine Arts under Robert Peel’s government, Mary undertook research trips to France and Northern Italy accompanied by her son, Charles Watkins Merrifield, who assisted with transcribing and copying manuscripts from some of Europe’s most prestigious libraries. The results of these trips were consolidated in 1845 for her book The Art of Fresco Painting in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, which consisted of an introduction to the chemical structure of colour pigments and translations of extracts from well-respected historical writers on Renaissance art and architecture including Vitruvius, Leon Battista Alberti and Vasari. In 1847 Mary was made an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, awarded for her research into Italian art history.


Her influence on local history is equally remarkable. During her travels, Mary wrote regularly to her husband and parents back in England. Here at The Keep we hold ten booklets of transcripts of the surviving letters sent to 4 Grand Parade Brighton, which can be ordered to view in the Reading Room. When she returned to the Sussex coast she wrote Brighton, Past and Present: A Handbook for Visitors and Residents which was full of lively Regency anecdotes and, in 1860, her study of the county’s flora and fauna entitled A Sketch of the Natural History of Brighton and its Vicinity. In this quotation Merrifield’s admiration for the South Downs is unequivocal:

In their general outlines, the Downs, like all mountain ranges of the chalk formation, are rounded in their forms, and though in their natural state destitute of trees, they possess a beauty peculiarly their own, in the long serpentine lines into which they fall, the variety and harmony of their colours, passing from blue in the distance through grey, to the warmer tints of green, broken orange and russet. (A Sketch of the Natural History of Brighton, 1864, p.21)

There was a decisive shift in her curiosity after this date from the visual arts to botany and marine life. Mary assisted in the display and arrangement of the natural history exhibits at Brighton Museum and some of her seaweed specimens are now in the care of the Booth Museum.

An extract from 'A Sketch of the Natural History of Brighton'

An extract from ‘A Sketch of the Natural History of Brighton’

A newspaper from 1857 reported that she was awarded a civil-list pension of £100 per year ‘in consideration of the valuable services she has rendered to literature and art’, and in tribute to her contribution to the advancement of late nineteenth century marine biology a species of marine algae was named after her. After the death of her husband John in 1877, Mary moved from Brighton to Cambridge and remained there until her death. Her correspondence relating to botany was donated to the Plant Sciences library in Cambridge. Mrs Merrifield’s extraordinary legacy lives on through her herbarium which now resides at the Natural History Museum in London and in her many published books, many of which can be viewed here at The Keep.

For the Merrifield family papers see our online catalogue and browse the hierarchy.

International Women’s Day: Trix Kipling, writer and psychic

14th March 2015

By Jo Baines

Alice Fleming (1868 – 1948) – known as Trix Kipling –  is remembered as Rudyard Kipling’s younger sister. However, she was also a writer – albeit eclipsed by her brother’s fame.  She wrote poetry and fiction throughout her life, both with her family and independently.  In 1884, Trix wrote a volume of poetry, ‘Echoes’, with her brother Rudyard. This was followed by ‘A Pinchbeck Goddess’ in 1897 and ‘Her Brother’s Keeper’ in 1901. She wrote numerous stories and articles for the press in both India and England – including, in 1885, works for ‘Quartette, the Christmas annual of the Civil & Military Gazette’ in collaboration with her brother Rudyard and their parents. In 1902 she published a volume of poetry, ‘Hand in hand, Verses by a mother and daughter’, with her mother Alice Kipling.  She was also praised for writing excellent letters. Some of Trix’s work and correspondence can be found in the Trix Kipling Papers, the MacDonald Papers and the Baldwin Papers.

Trix Kipling 1872 Trix was given her nickname by her family when she was young, as she was “such a tricksy little baby”. When she was three years old, she and her brother Rudyard were placed in a boarding home in Southsea, Portsmouth whilst her parents returned to India for five years. Rudyard’s dislike of the home, and feelings of abandonment, are well documented; it seems likely that Trix felt similarly.

After her education was completed, Trix returned to India in 1883. Six years later, at the age of 21, Trix married Colonel John Fleming – a man ten years her senior. Her family, always a close unit, disapproved of the match; it was to prove a source of tension in later years.

Trix was unwell with  mental health issues throughout her life; her first bout of illness occurred in 1898. In 1910, shortly after Trix and her husband had moved from India to Edinburgh, Trix received the news that her mother had died and her mental illness returned once again. The death of her father three months later exacerbated matters, and Trix struggled with her health for the next decade. She was moved around regularly, something she resented in later years; Trix’s husband and her family were frequently at odds over her treatment.

Trix returned to Scotland in 1932 and lived in Edinburgh for the rest of her life. She was very active, and enthusiastically supported the foundation of the Kipling Society and regularly wrote articles for the Kipling Journal. She ran a charity shop and enjoyed visiting Edinburgh Zoo regularly; she often talked to the elephants in Hindustani!

Trix was also known  for having inherited her ancestors’ gift of ‘second sight’. From an early age she could see ghosts and spirits and later became able to communicate with the deceased. Trix was a member of the Edinburgh Psychic College and contributed to the Psychic Press under a pseudonym, ‘Mrs Holland’.

Hilton Brown notes that it is a great pity Trix was not better known for her writing qualities and close relationship with her brother: “one feels at any rate that her contemporaries did not make all of her that should have been made.”. Much has been written about Trix in relation to her brother; the books ‘Trix: Kipling’s Forgotten Sister’ and ‘A Circle of Sisters’, both available to view at The Keep in the Reference Room, discuss Alice Fleming’s remarkable life in more depth.

International Women’s Day: Rosey Pool, cultural anthropologist and teacher

13th March 2015

By Jo Baines

As part of International Women’s Week here at The Keep, we have been looking at archival collections in which women played a major part. Today and tomorrow our focus turns to the material held in the University of Sussex Special Collections, and the lives of two women in particular: Rosey Pool and Trix Kipling.

Rosey Pool (1905 – 1971) was born in the Jewish quarter of  Amsterdam. Whilst training to be a teacher, Rosey developed an interest in African-American writing, particularly poetry and drama. Rosey went on to study cultural anthropology in Berlin and completed a thesis entitled ‘The Poetic Art of the North American Negro.’

In 1938, Rosey returned home to Amsterdam. Raised in a liberal minded family, Rosey spoke out against Nazi persecution of the Jews during her time in Berlin; however, as the Nazis grew in power it became too dangerous for Rosey to stay in Germany. In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. In May 1943, Rosey and her family were interned in the Westerbork transit camp;  within weeks her parents, her only brother, and his wife all died. In September  1943 a small group of inmates travelled to Amsterdam to collect books for a projected library and Rosey escaped. She remained in hiding until the war’s end, writing poetry inspired by her experiences of the camp, and publishing poetry translations through the underground press.



After the war, Rosey returned to Amsterdam. She was one of the first people to see Anne Frank’s diary; Otto Frank was an old friend, and Rosey helped him find a publisher for his daughter’s work. Rosey worked on an English translation of Anne’s diary, but it was rejected by English publishers.

In 1953, Rosey moved to London to live with her close friend Isa Isenberg. She published several anthologies and translations of African-American poetry during her lifetime. Rosey visited North America frequently, to lecture and lead workshops about African-American writing. She was strongly opposed to segregation in America and preferred to eat from a lunchbox in public places if no mixed restaurants were nearby.

The Rosey Pool collection (SxMs19), donated to the University of Sussex by Isa in the 1970s, contains a wealth of material about African-American culture during the mid 20th Century. Rosey corresponded with many Harlem Renaissance writers, including Langston Hughes and Owen Dodson. Typescripts by Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois and James Baldwin can also be found in the collection, along with several printed music scores. Rosey also created several scrapbooks relating to her work and visits to America, providing a fascinating insight into her life’s passions.

However, what I find most interesting about the Rosey Pool Collection is the woman herself. Evidently well admired, hard-working and respected throughout her lifetime, more is known about who Rosey associated with than  about the woman who experienced a crucial time of change in both European and American society.





International Women’s Day: Ellen Nye Chart, actress turned manager of Brighton’s Theatre Royal

Portrait of Ellen taken from an original photograph by Louis Bertin, official photographer to the Theatre Royal

12th March 2015

By Kate Elms

The 19th-century revival of Brighton’s Theatre Royal began under the direction of actor Henry Nye Chart, who took control of the ailing institution in 1854. But it was the imagination and sound economic sense of his wife Ellen, who managed the theatre from 1876 until her death in 1892, that established its reputation and secured its future.

Ellen moved to Brighton in 1865, joining the repertory company set up by Nye Chart and appearing in a number of its productions. Two years later, the couple were married and, at this point, Ellen seems to have become concerned less with leading roles and more with what was going on behind the scenes. This experience proved invaluable: in 1876, Henry Nye Chart died at the age of 55, leaving responsibility for the theatre to his wife.

Although only in her thirties, and with an eight-year-old child to care for, Ellen rose to the challenge and presented her first season at the helm just weeks after her husband’s death. She went on to introduce a series of innovations, the first of which was to extend ‘the season’ to cover the whole year.  She later replaced the resident company with a series of high-quality touring productions, and pioneered matinee performances, including what became known as ‘flying matinees’. These saw  the cast (complete with scenery and props) of a popular London production coming down to Brighton for an afternoon show, before returning to the West End for the evening performance.

Alladin PosterThe annual pantomime was another great tradition with which Ellen was closely associated. Classics such as Aladdin, Dick Whittington and Jack and the Beanstalk were staged and, if the programmes are anything to go by, each one sizzled with music, dancing, and fabulous costumes. Ellen was an astute businesswoman and, despite the expense involved, the panto was said to be one of the most profitable events of the year. There were performances every evening, usually from Christmas Eve until early February, with matinees on Boxing Day and every Wednesday and Saturday.

Ellen may have been shrewd but she was also generous: each year, the staff and inmates of the Brighton Workhouse, more than a thousand people in total, were invited to a free performance of the pantomime. It’s easy to imagine how magical such an experience would have been for them, and this gesture of kindness contributed to Ellen’s great popularity.

Her unexpected death in 1892 caused great sadness in the town. According to a report in the Brighton Herald, she had been ill for some time but had been too busy to take the advice of her doctors to rest. The article concluded: ‘That so busy and bustling a spirit should have been extinguished at so early an age…is a source of deep regret to all those connected directly or indirectly with the Theatre, to a number of poor persons in the town whom she was want to befriend, and to a wide circle of friends, both in and out of Brighton, and in and out of the theatrical profession.’

To have taken the lead in raising the profile of the theatre and the quality of its productions, while also putting it on sound financial footing, suggests that Ellen Nye Chart was a woman ahead of her time. That she was also so well-liked and respected within her profession – and her home town – underlines the scale of her achievements.

Tomorrow, Jo Baines will be writing about cultural anthropologist Rosey Pool and writer Trix Kipling



International Women’s Day: Jam, Jerusalem and history; the WI archive at East Sussex Record Office

11th March 2015

By Anna Manthorpe

WI 112/1/1: Coronation year scrapbook (1872 - 1973)Established in Canada, the Women’s Institute movement began in Britain during the First World War as a response to the need to encourage the growing and preservation of food; it was soon recognised that the country would face grave shortages when imported foodstuffs were in short supply. The Agricultural Organisation Society of the Board of Agriculture promoted Women’s Institutes as part of the war effort, recognising that improving the education and interests of countrywomen would enable them to contribute to the home front.

The first local WI branch in England was established at Singleton, West Sussex, in December 1915, and Wivelsfield became the first East Sussex WI, founded in March 1916. Lady Denman, the first Chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, lived at Balcombe Place in Balcombe, then in East Sussex.

WI 032-3-2-18Sussex was at the forefront of the movement, and it seems appropriate that the East Sussex Record Office should hold what is probably the largest WI archive in the country – we have the records of nearly two hundred local WI institutes in our stores.

The records reflect local life, particularly in rural communities. WI scrapbooks are a particularly useful historical source since many contain interesting collections of photographs, news cuttings and papers relating to their locality. They are of potential interest to anyone researching an individual, a particular aspect of the community, or social history. The scrapbooks range in date from the early days of the WI movement, to the commemoration of the Millennium. A number were compiled for the East Sussex WI Village Scrapbook Competition to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953, or a competition to mark the Golden Jubilee of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes in 1965. They often contain material which is much earlier in date, and are beautifully compiled, often with carefully embroidered covers.

The WI has enhanced the lives of so many women since its foundation, and 2015 marks its centenary in Britain. The East Sussex Federation of Women’s Institutes will celebrate with a major event at The Keep in April.


Tomorrow, Kate Elms will be writing about Ellen Nye Chart, actress turned manager of Brighton’s Theatre Royal.



International Women’s Day: Gertrude Brand (1844-1927) and Maud Brand (1856-1944)

Gertrude Brand at the back with sister Maud on the right and another sister Alice seated (c1862)

10th March 2015

By Andrew Lusted

Gertrude and Maud Brand were two of the five daughters of Henry Brand of Glynde Place, owner of the Glynde estates, and great granddaughters of Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire.

Both sisters were prominent in the great Sussex women’s game of stoolball, playing for the Glynde Butterflies who were instrumental in establishing the game as the first women’s team sport in the world. Unlike the game of cricket at this time, stoolball teams were comprised of women from all classes in Victorian society.

Gertrude captained the Butterflies against the Firle Blues in the first ever recorded stoolball match played between villages in September 1866. Two years later she scored the first century at stoolball, scoring 110 against the Chailey Grasshoppers. There were no boundaries in the match, so Gertrude had to run all 110 runs – a distance of one mile – as well as complete the runs of her batting partners. This can be contrasted with the perception of female athletes in the twentieth century who were not allowed to run distances of over 800 metres as recently as the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

Gertrude’s younger sister Maud Brand, then only 12, also played in this match scoring 33 runs.

Gertrude married Henry Campion of Danny in West Sussex in 1869 at the age of 25, which brought an end to her stoolball playing. Gertrude’s daughter, Mary Campion, would later play stoolball for the Danny Daisies.

Maud Brand depicted in her stoolball costume in a painting by her sister Gertrude c1866The report of Gertrude’s funeral in the Sussex Express of 30 December 1927 recorded that she was a clever woman who ‘did much to benefit her own sex’. She was a patron of the Girls Friendly Society and the Sunshine Home at Hurstpierpoint, where women and girls could recuperate after illness. She was also involved with Chichester House, where training was given for domestic service.

After Gertrude’s marriage her sister Maud became the star of the Butterflies. She too gave up stoolball, when she married David Bevan 22 October 1885. However, the previous year Maud had taken part in what may have been the first recorded match involving ladies’ cricket clubs. The Southdown Ladies Club played against Heathfield Park in a match in Glynde Park on 2 September, 1884; Maud hitting 65 runs, not out, the top score in the match. She appeared in two more recorded matches in 1885 before her marriage and in one of them, against Mrs Frank Whitfield’s XI, Maud’s older sister, Gertrude Campion, batted at number 11 and scored 9 runs. In a match on 8 Sep 1885 Maud scored 93 runs for the Southdown club, while Mabel Ingram scored 87 in the same innings.

Ladies cricket in Sussex was played only by the landed classes. So, unlike stoolball, which the daughters of the upper classes gave up when they married, Maud continued to play cricket after her wedding. She is recorded as playing for the married versus single ladies in 1887 and the following year appeared for Miss M Thomas’ XI against the Hon M Brassey’s team at Catsfield.

When Maud died the Sussex Express noted that she had been commandant of the Royston Auxilliary Hospital (1914-1918) and was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1918 in recognition of her work as president of the Hertfordshire Red Cross.


Tomorrow,  Anna Manthorpe will be writing about Jam, Jerusalem and history; the WI archive at East Sussex Record Office.