Diaries, writings and papers relating to Botswana, 1955-1972. Much of the material relates to the period 1966-1972.
Papers of Naomi Mitchison
- This material is held at
- ReferenceGB 193 MIT
- Dates of Creation1955-1972
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish
- Physical Description6 files
- Direct Link
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Naomi Mitchison was born in Scotland in 1897, the daughter of the physiologist John Haldane (1892-1964). She studied science at Oxford and, in 1916, married the barrister Gilbert Mitchison (1890-1970). Gilbert ('Dick') Mitchison shared his wife's socialist beliefs and was later Labour MP for Kettering (1945-1964). He was made a life peer (Baron Mitchison of Carradale) in 1964.
Mitchison herself was a prolific author and completed over ninety works in her lifetime. These included historical and contemporary novels, poetry, plays, short stories, children's and fantasy fiction, and a set of memoirs. Politically active in the 1930s when she stood as a Labour Party candidate for the Scottish Universities in 1935, advocacy - especially of women's rights but also in respect of Scottish island communities - remained an important part of her life. She travelled widely and had a particular interest in African affairs. Africa provided a setting for some of her novels. In 1963 she was made a tribal adviser ('Mmarona' or 'mother') to the Bakgatla of Botswana. The close relationship with this tribal community began when, having been stranded while travelling, the chief offered her hospitality. A lasting relationship with the Bakgatla developed from this and she continuted to visit even in her later years.
Conditions Governing Access
Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including the Data Protection Act 1998.
The papers were donated by Mitchison to the University of York.
Other Finding Aids
Anne Akeroyd and Colin Lunt (eds), A Guide to the Southern African Archives in the University of York, (York, 1979).
A typescript catalogue, to file level, is available for consultation in the Borthwick Institute's searchrooms.
Description compiled by Dr Charles Fonge, September 2010.
Conditions Governing Use
A reprographics service is available to researchers. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute, University of York's terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.
Further accruals are not expected.