Personal Papers of Dora Pym

Scope and Content

The papers comprise an autobiographical memoir in five parts of Dora Pym's life before marriage, 'Patchwork from the past', notes about Dora Pym, and a certificate of recognition.

Administrative / Biographical History

Dora Pym (nee Ivens) was born at Harborough Parva near Rugby. She was the daughter of a timber merchant and farmer and was educated at home and then the King Edward VI High School, Birmingham before coming to Girton 1910-15 as a Bodichon Scholar to read Classics. She achieved a first in Part I of the Tripos in 1913 and stayed a further two years, first as a fourth-year scholar then as a research student, before going to Westfield College as a lecturer in Classics. She returned to Girton in 1916 as Resident Lecturer in Classics, a post she held for two years until her marriage to Thomas Pym. After her marriage, she taught classics at schools in Bristol from 1929, later lecturing in classics and education at Bristol University. She published on the classics and on teaching method. When her daughter brought Dora Pym's papers she talked of her mother's life and what had inspired the memoirs. 'She started writing them in the sixties when she was then in her seventies. In seventy years she had seen dramatic changes in life. Her grandchildren, of whom she had twelve, were old enough to remember her when she died, and they would be interested to read of her early life. These memoirs end with her marriage to Thomas Wentworth Pym [Trinity College, Cambridge 1905-1909 and chaplain 1911-1914], at that time serving as a first world war chaplain in France. They were written more than ten years after she wrote a memoir of her late husband 'Tom Pym a Portrait' (1952). She had already been a lecturer at Westfield College, London and then at Girton and would have become Director of Studies in Classics at Girton, if she had not married and moved to London. Even in the twenties when three of her children were born, her enthusiasm for the classics and desire to communicate them led to the publication of her first books: 'Readings from the Literature of Ancient Rome' (1923) and 'Readings from the Literature of Ancient Greece' (1924). These books are translations of extracts from Greek and Roman writers. When her husband became a Canon of Bristol Cathedral and the family moved there in 1929 she began teaching again both in schools and in the Department of Education at Bristol University. In 1936 her anthology of extracts from Latin literature for use in schools was published, 'Salve per Saecula'. Her husband, who had been ill for many years, died in 1945. Besides caring for him, Dora Pym held two part-time jobs and brought up four children. She was a pioneer in teaching Greek through the reading of texts, which she had first tried with a group of soldiers in 1918, and started again in the 1940s in a WEA class with some pupils who had left school at 14. These classes led to the publication of 'Outlines for the Teaching of Greek Reading' (1946). In her seventies she was still teaching Greek with the same enthusiasm at the JACT [Joint Association of Classical Teachers] summer schools. From 1946 until her retirement ten years later she held a full time lectureship at the Department of Education at Bristol. With her daughter Nancy Silver she produced the Latin reading anthology 'Alive on Men's Lips' (1952). 'Free Writing' (1956) brought her wider recognition in education with its progressive ideas of devising ways of getting children to write from their personal feelings and experiences, a novel approach at the time.'

Conditions Governing Access

Please cite as Girton College Archive, Cambridge, Personal Papers of Dora Pym, GCPP Pym

Acquisition Information

The papers were given to Girton between 1998 and 2001 by Dora Pym's daughter, Mary Pym, herself a Girtonian (1949).

Other Finding Aids

As at Sep 2008 an online catalogue was available at

Archivist's Note

Collection Description taken from JANUS in Sep 2008 as part of Genesis 2008 Project