Correspondence from Gladys Aylward to Janice Reid

Scope and Content

The collection includes three personal letters from Gladys Aylward to Janice Reid, written after Aylward spoke at Reid's family church in Australia in the early 1960s. The letters give news of Aylward's family, her mission work, and her orphanage (9 August 1962 - 26 March 1963). Also included are one photograph of Aylward with Clifford and Gordon, two adopted children (March 1963), and a Christmas card from You-May Wong to Janice Reid, enclosing dried leaves and cut-outs of butterflies (undated).

Administrative / Biographical History

Gladys Aylward was born in 1902 in Edmonton, North London. Following service as a housemaid, and rejection by the China Inland Mission, she went to China as an independent missionary. Travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Tientsin she then continued to the province of Shansi in North-West China, where she worked from 1931. She became a Chinese citizen in 1936. In 1940, against the background of civil war between Nationalist government troops and the Communists, Japanese invasion, and the ever-present threat of bandits, she led a group of orphans on a perilous journey to Sian. She returned to England during the Second World War. Unable to return to China, Aylward moved to Taiwan in 1958, where she established the Gladys Aylward Orphanage. Aylward died in Taiwan in 1970.

Her life was the basis of the 1959 film 'The Inn of the Sixth Happiness' starring Ingrid Bergman. A number of books have also been written about her life including: 'Gladys Aylward, One of the Undefeated' by R O Latham (1950); 'The Small Woman' by Alan Burgess (1957); 'London Sparrow' by Phyllis Thompson (1989); and 'Gladys Aylward: the Courageous English Missionary' by Catherine Swift (1989).

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS Library in June 2017.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Copyright holder unknown

Geographical Names