Midwife's Tale: Mary Thorley

Scope and Content

Transcript of an interview with Mary Thorley covering her friendship with the midwife, Elsie Walkerdine, accompanying her on her rounds at the end of the Second World War, pregnancy complications, the midwife's duties, payment of midwives, home births, and roles of handywomen, and also including experiences of a mother whose daughter had been delivered by Elsie.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mary Thorley was born in 1912 in Deptford, south east London. She worked as a fitter on the trams during the war, and in a biscuit factory. In 1940, she went to lvie with a sister who lived next door to midwife Elsie Walkerdine. On Christmas day 1940, she was invited to play cards. She stayed the night at her house and remained there to live, being identified on the tenancy as Elsie's 'niece'. Mary often attended births with Elsie.

Conditions Governing Access

Transcripts and Sample Audio: Free to view and download from the website of the Royal College of Midwives: https://www.rcm.org.uk/library-and-information-services

Audio of Full Interviews: Accessible for free and by appointment at the library of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Opening hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm (contact: archives@rcog.org.uk)

Write, call or email us to book an appointment, make an enquiry, or to order digital copies (free via Dropbox) for personal and non-commercial research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies for private study purposes only are available from the Archivist (contact: archives@rcog.org.uk). Copyright permission is required for commercial use of audio and transcripts.

Copyright lies with the authors Billie Hunter and Nicky Leap.

Related Material

The Midwife’s Tale: an Oral History from Handywoman to Professional Midwife, by Nicky Leap and Billie Hunter (2nd edition, 2013) [Available at the RCOG library, reference WQ11 LEA]