Papers of Audrey Jupp-Thomas

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains several significant items. Audrey Jupp-Thomas' memoirs [U DJT/5] are particularly important, although not always wholly reliable. They are currently [1998] not available to researchers. Some of her other unpublished works also contain biographical material. The correspondence includes single letters from the cartoonist Vicky, Barbara Castle MEP, and two letters from the writer, historian, and fellow Union of Democratic Control member Basil Davidson. There is important correspondence with David Kitson, both during the later stages of his imprisonment by the South African regime for his anti-apartheid activities, and following his release in 1984 after serving a 20-year sentence [U DJT/29]. The photographs include one of Audrey Jupp-Thomas in the mid-1940s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Audrey Kathleen Jupp was born in Tonbridge, Kent, on 8 April 1914, the second child and only daughter of Reginald William and Daisy Lottie Jupp. Reginald was a schoolmaster, whilst before her marriage Daisy had worked in a draper's shop. Audrey later became Audrey Thomas when she married, and adopted the name Jupp-Thomas when her husband died.

Although she was a bright child (in 1924 she won a scholarship to Tunbridge Wells County School for Girls) she was unable to go to university as her parents' finances would not allow it. In 1935 she started work as a junior reporter on the 'Tonbridge Free Press'. In 1936 she left to become a secretary at a department store in Sevenoaks, but left after a year to look after her mother, who was in poor health. Audrey was quite active politically, and remained so for the rest of her life. She joined the Peace Pledge Union in 1935, later (in 1937) founding the Tonbridge Branch, of which she was secretary. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War she became the National Council for Conscientious Objectors' adviser to conscientious objectors. As a well-known pacifist she had considerable difficulty finding a job when she again sought work in 1941, being branded a security risk by the local superintendent of police. Eventually she secured a post as negotiating clerk for Ibbett, Mosely, Card & Co., a firm of estate agents in Sevenoaks, in which position she remained until 1946.

She joined the Independent Labour Party in 1942, largely because of its opposition to the War. Disillusioned with the ineffectiveness of the ILP, she moved to the Labour Party in 1945, acting as secretary to John Pudney when he stood unsuccessfully as Labour candidate for Sevenoaks. She herself also stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in the local council elections in Sevenoaks in 1946.

It was through Pudney that she was appointed assistant secretary to the Union of Democratic Control, largely on the strength of her organisational skills. Established on the outbreak of war in 1914, the UDC at one time had over one million members and associates, but by the mid-1940s was in a fairly poor state. Its records and finances were chaotic, and membership subscriptions were rarely collected. The office was supposedly in the care of successive general secretaries, but they were usually very part-time and rarely available. It was Audrey Jupp-Thomas who pulled the organisation round and, with the likes of Basil Davidson and Ben Parkin, made a strong anti-colonial organisation of some note. She solicited donations to help eliminate the bank overdraft, created an accessible filing system, organised a subscription list and arranged for a newsletter to be sent to members. In 1948 she was made organising secretary with effective responsibility for the UDC's entire organisation and administration, including overseeing the production of numerous publications.

She was a tireless worker. In 1955, in addition to her responsibilities with the UDC, she became general secretary of the Socialist Medical Association, and also assumed responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Euthenasia Society. In 1960 she added to these the post of secretary of the London Office of the Malawi Congress Party and, in 1961, the administration of the Socialist Education Association. She also found time to write publications of her own, including the pamphlet 'Facing facts in Africa' (UDC, 1957). In 1962 she resigned from all her political organisations to become assistant liaison officer of the Nyasaland Students' Liaison Office. In 1964 Malawi became independent and she helped to set up its High Commission in London but left in 1970 to become finance officer of the Paddington Churches Housing Association. She retired in 1974.

In 1968 she married Clem Thomas, a friend from her SMA days. He died in 1979. Although retired, she acted as honorary treasurer of the SMA from 1976 to 1986. When she finally retired, she wrote several novels (all unpublished) and her memoirs. She later moved to sheltered accommodation near Crawley, where she died of cancer in 1994.

Arrangement

U DJT/1 - 7 Manuscripts, c.1985-c.1991

U DJT/8 - 29 Correspondence, 1936-1993

U DJT/30 - 35 Photographs, undated [1945-1961]

U DJT/36 - 41 Miscellaneous, 1946-1962

Conditions Governing Access

Open for consultation

Other Finding Aids

Entry in Women's studies subject guide

Custodial History

Bequeathed by Audrey Jupp-Thomas in her will and donated via her trustees, Christopher Jupp and Iain Paterson, 30 January 1995.

Related Material

Hull University Archives:

Archives of the Union of Democratic Control [DDC]

Archives of the Socialist Medical Association [DSM]

Papers of Ben Parkin MP [DBP]

Bibliography

Jupp-Thomas, Audrey, 'Nor lose the common touch- the memoirs', Hull University Archives, DJT/5 Paterson, Iain, 'Audrey Jupp-Thomas: a memoir', 'Paragon Review', 4, November, 1995, pp.18-20

Personal Names