Papers of Leila Berg

Scope and Content

Run of Growing without schooling, 1987-1995

File of newspaper articles relating to Beryl Gilroy, c. 2001

File of articles by Leila Berg, some newspaper cuttings, some original, 1960s.

Correspondence with Cheapside Land Development Company concerning the provision of play space for children of tenants, 1942.

File relating to the Peckham 'experiment' (the Peckham Pioneer Health Centre), 1976-1988, including correspondence with Alison Stallibrass and Colin Ward. Also includes various published and unpublished articles by Stallibrass and correspondence with publishers.

File containing transcript of discussion (22/9/1968) between Leila Berg, John Holt, Bob Mackenzie, A.S. Neill and Michael Duane (appears to be incomplete).

2 files of reminiscences about A.S. Neill by Michael Duane and others, mostly compiled for Neill & Summerhill : a man and his work: a pictorial study (Penguin, 1969). Includes some correspondence with Neill, and 2 reel-to-reel tapes of conversations between Berg and Neill.

File of reminiscences about A S Neill, and attempts by Leila Berg to publish these as 'A funny sort of head', 1977-1983.

File of correspondence with and papers relating to John Holt, 1976-1995 and 2001-2002, including correspondence with Holt Associates (Mary van Doren, Pat Farenga, Nancy Wallace, Mary Maher and Donna Richoux).

8 large photographic images of Summerhill taken by John Walmsley (2 used for Look at kids).

Copy of Children's Rights, No. 6 (no date, probably 1971) and Kids (formerly Children's Rights), September 1972, containing articles by Leila Berg.

Various photographs of Leila Berg (8)

Children's rights, numbers 1-5, 1971-1972.

Various annotated books with letters/notes enclosed.

Copy of The trials of Oz by Tony Palmer (Blond and Briggs, 1971)

Administrative / Biographical History

Leila Berg (nee Goller) (1917-2012) was a journalist, author and political activist and a passionate advocate for the empowerment of children, particularly through literature.

After an abortive spell at teacher training college she studied journalism at Kings College London, and began her career working at the Daily Worker (later the Morning Star).

After World War II she began writing children's fiction and later became children's books editor at Methuen 1958-1960 and editor of Salamander Books at Thomas Nelson in 1965. Her indignation at the exclusion of working-class and ethnic minority lives from children's books prompted her to devise and launch the 'Nippers' series of early readers books in 1968, many of which she wrote herself.

Influenced by the educational psychologist Susan Isaacs she formed progressive and anti-authoritarian views on children, education and society which led her to take an interest in the progressive education movement of AS Neill, the founder of the alternative Summerhill school in Suffolk, Michael Duane, the head of Risinghill comprehensive school in Islington, and American educator John Holt.

She received the Eleanor Farjeon award for services to children's literature in 1974 and was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Essex in 1999.

Access Information


Some material in this collection is closed under DPA.

Custodial History

Given by the family in February 2011 and March 2012.

Related Material

Other material at PET Archive (Planned Environment Therapy Trust).