Papers re Myra Sadd Brown

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of eight letters of condolence written to Myra Stedman on the death of her mother, Myra Sadd Brown (Apr 1938). Members of the Women's Freedom League, the St Joan's Alliance and the British Commonwealth League expressed admiration of Mrs Sadd Brown's personality and her work in the women's movements. The archive also contains two photographs: one of the medal awarded to Myra Sadd Brown on her release from Holloway in 1912, with the inscriptions 'For Valour' and 'Hunger Strike' (medal held in Melbourne Museum, Australia); one of a drawing of Sadd Brown by fellow suffragette Jessie Mothersole, at a suffrage meeting, c. 1912 (original drawing held by the donor).

Administrative / Biographical History

Myra Eleanor Sadd Brown (1872-1938) was born in Maldon, Essex on 3 Oct 1872. Her parents were John Granger Sadd and Mary Ann Price and she was the tenth of eleven children. The family operated a firm of timber merchants and processors in the hometown of Maldon. Myra Sadd received a private education at a school in Colchester. She met Ernest Brown through her interest in cycling; they were married in 1896. The couple moved to Finsbury Park in London, and then to Hampstead. Myra and Ernest had three daughters and one son. Due to the commercial success of her husband’s business Myra was provided with independent means. Myra was raised within a Congregationalist environment; later becoming a Christian Scientist. She was interested in artistic pursuits and avidly enjoyed Shaw's plays. Myra is particularly renowned for being a feminist. It is believed that prior to her marriage she purchased a small property giving her, as a ratepayer, the right to vote. In Hackney, Myra served as a Poor Law Guardian. Furthermore, she was a committed supporter of the women's suffrage movement; being a member of the Women's Social & Political Union. In 1912, Myra was arrested and imprisoned; she went on hunger strike and endured forcible feeding. Myra wrote a great deal on behalf of the suffrage cause; the 'Christian Commonwealth' being one such periodical which published her letters. Later, she became associated with Sylvia Pankhurst's East London Federation of Suffragettes, inviting East London women, travelling by bus, to visit her home near Maldon. Following WWI, Myra became an active member of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (later known as the International Alliance of Women). She travelled widely throughout Europe attending conferences. This activity allowed her to indulge her interest in other cultures and countries, as did her periods of wintering in Italy and Egypt with her husband Ernest. Although Myra herself did not speak a foreign language, she insisted that her children should study French and German. The emerging Commonwealth became another area of interest to Myra. From 1923 she had been involved in meetings, which culminated in the formation of the British Commonwealth League (later the Commonwealth Countries League) in 1925. It was a feminist organisation devoted to the upholding of women's rights in the Commonwealth of which Myra became its Treasurer. In 1931 Ernest died of rheumatic heart disease. In 1937 Myra visited South-East Asia where she was present for the birth of her second grandchild. She then extended the tour to visit Angkor Wat and the Malaysian islands. Myra continued her journey to Hong Kong, planning to return via the Trans-Siberian railway. However, she suffered a stroke and died in Hong Kong on 13 Apr 1938. The British Commonwealth League established the Sadd Brown Library of material on women in the Commonwealth as a memorial to her. It was placed in the Women's Service Library, now The Women’s Library. Myra’s interest in the Commonwealth Countries League, and the International Alliance of Women, has been continued first by her daughter Myra Stedman, and subsequently by Lady Diana Dollery, her granddaughter, both of whom have been closely involved in the development of the Sadd Brown Library.

Conditions Governing Access

Gift

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Lady Diana Dollery in 1988 and 2007.

Other Finding Aids

Fonds Description (1 folder only)

Custodial History

The letters (donated in 1988) were previously referred to as 'Papers of Myra Stedman'. The photographs were donated in 2007.

Related Material

The Women’s Library also holds the Papers of the International Alliance of Women (2IAW), St Joan’s Alliance (2SJA), the Women’s Freedom League (2WFL) and the Commonwealth Countries League (5CCL).

The Women's Library Printed Collections also comprises the Sadd Brown Library, a collection of printed material relating to women in Commonwealth countries.