Letter from Gladys Aylward to Pat Westall

Scope and Content

This brief handwritten letter, which is undated, appears to have been written while Gladys Aylward was in Ireland and refers to her religious work with children.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gladys Aylward was born on 24 February 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 [in 1932?]. Travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Tientsin she then continued to the province of Shansi in North-West China. 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 threat of bandits, she led a group of orphans on a perilous journey to Sian. She returned to England during the Second World War, but returned to work with children at the Gladys Aylward Children's Home in Taiwan from the late 1940s until near her death on the 3rd January 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).

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS Library in September 2018.

Archivist's Note


Related Material

See other collections of Gladys Aylward material held at SOAS Library, reference MS 381072, MS 381311 and MS 381331.