Papers of Elsa Fraenkel

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of photocopies of letters sent to Fraenkel by Pankhurst mainly concerned with an exhibition of the latter's paintings which Elsa organised and which was held in London in 1959. Includes a pastel drawing of Pankhurst by Fraenkel (c.1957)

Administrative / Biographical History

Elsa Fraenkel (1892-1975) was a sculptor and artist who became friends with Sylvia Pankhurst during the post-war period. They met for the first time in 1950 Fraenkel herself became interested in Ethiopia, the country with which Pankhurst was involved at the time. By 1950 the former was helping to organise cultural events featuring the African nation in London and contributed some of her own work to the celebration that was held in London when the Princess Tsahay Hospital was dedicated. Before Sylvia Pankhurst went to live in Ethiopia in 1956, she left her paintings and sketches with Mrs Elsa Fraenkel, herself a sculptor. When Pankhurst had moved to Ethiopia, Fraenkel contacted her with the aim of creating an exhibition of her work during her time with the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU). Pankhurst was unable to help her having left behind much of the work she had created at the turn of the century, but was able to give her information on the time and send her photographs of a WSPU fete in the Princes Skating Rink. The eventual exhibition of work which was eventually arranged by Fraenkel and Lady Winstedt took place at the French Institute on 5 Dec 1959, sponsored by the Suffragette Fellowship, the Women's Freedom league and the Royal India, Pakistan and Ceylon Society. Fraenkel also wrote an (undated) article on 'Sylvia Pankhurst : student days' which was based on notes supplied by Sylvia. After Pankhurst's death in 1960, Elsa offered a portrait of her to the National Portrait Gallery.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Rita Pankhurst in 1987.

Other Finding Aids

Fonds Description (2 folders only)

Location of Originals

The original letters are believed to be in the possession of Elsa Fraenkel's family.