Papers of Helena Normanton

Archive Collection
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 7HLN
  • Former Reference
      GB 106 7HLN1 = 1984/01 and 1994/01. 7HLN2 = 1999/04
  • Dates of Creation
      1905-1995
  • Language of Material
      English
  • Physical Description
      15 A boxes (plus 4 A boxes of press cuttings uncatalogued); 3 OS boxes; PC 6.10
  • Direct Link

Scope and Content

The archive consists of:

- papers relating to Helena Normanton's career and legal work

- papers relating to matrimonial law reform

- publications and articles by Helena Normanton

- correspondence with editors of publications

- papers relating to Helena Normanton's other interests in history and to other organisations that she was involved with eg Union of Women Voters

- photographs

- press cuttings (eg Helena Normanton's career, articles and reviews, matrimonial law reform)

- Barristers robe, barristers bands, badges

There are no personal papers

Administrative / Biographical History

Helena Florence Normanton (1882-1957) was born on 14 Dec 1882 to Jane Amelia and William Alexander Normanton in Kensington. In 1886 the family moved to Brighton. From 1900 Helena attended York Place Secondary School, Brighton (later renamed Margaret Hardy School, forerunner of Varndean School for Girls). From 1903-1905 she attended teacher training at Edge College, Liverpool. In 1907 Helena obtained a diploma in French language, literature and history from Dijon University. In 1912 she achieved her BA Hon First Class in History (London University). From 1913 -1915 she was a senior mistress for History at Glasgow High School for Girls and lecturer to postgraduate students of Glasgow University in Principles and methods of teaching history and then a University Extension lecturer to the University of London. From 1918-1920 she edited 'India' a political weekly.

On 24 Dec 1919 Helena was admitted as a student at the Middle Temple, the day after the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act received Royal Assent. On 26 Oct 1921 she married Gavin Bowman Watson Clark (d 1948). On 17 Nov 1922 Helena was called to the Bar, a few months after Ivy Williams had become the first woman to do so (but she did not practise). In 1922 Helena was the first woman to be briefed at High Court (successful divorce petition). In 1924 she was the first woman to be briefed at Old Bailey. Also in that year she was the first married British woman to be issued a passport in her maiden name ('as legal and only name'). In 1926 she was first woman to be briefed at the North London Sessions. In 1948 she was the first woman to prosecute in a murder trial (young soldier found guilty of murdering his wife) in the North-Eastern Circuit. In Apr 1949 she was the first woman KC (with Rose Heilbron)

In 1952 Helena drew up a memorandum of evidence as President of the Married Women's Association for consideration by the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce (criticism led to her resignation, withdrawing the memorandum and forming the Council of Married Women and submitting a revised memorandum to the Royal Commission). In 1956 Helena was the first recorded donor to the fund to create a new university in Sussex. Helena died in Oct 1957 and was buried at Ovingdean churchyard, Brighton.

Positions held : Treasurer and Secretary of the Old Bailey Bar Mess; Honorary member of the New York Women's Bar Association and of the women lawyers' association, Kappa Beta Pi (USA); Principal elected officer for Europe of the International Legal Sorority

Other interests : wrote extensively for 'Good Housekeeping' magazine and other publications eg 'The Queen', 'Quiver'; Associate Grand Dame for Europe of the International Society of Women Lawyers; Chair of the International legislative sub-committee of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women; Executive member of the National Council for Equal Citizenship; Executive member of the State Children's Association; First Secretary of the National Women's Citizens' Association; Founder and Honorary Secretary to the Magna Carta Society; Founding member of the Horatian Society

Arrangement

Archive has been arranged into 7 groups:

7HLN/A Papers relating to career and legal work

7HLN/B Matrimonial Law Reform

7HLN/C Publications and articles

7HLN/D Other interests

7HLN/E Photographs

7HLN/F Press cuttings

7HLN/G Objects

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. In addition the interview transcripts are closed at the Donor's request and in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

[As at Nov 2007 7HLN/F Press cuttings and 7HLN/G Objects were still being cataloguing and repackaged]

Acquisition Information

1984/01 Given to The Fawcett Library in Apr 1984 by Miss EM Cannon (Helena Normanton's niece);

1994/02 Given to The Fawcett Library in May 1994 by Miss EM Cannon (2 badges);

1999/04 Given to The Fawcett Library in Mar 1999 by the executor of Miss EM Cannon;

2003/32 Given to The Fawcett Library in Jun 1984 by Miss EM Cannon but formally accessioned in 2003.

Other Finding Aids

The Women's Library catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds Records of the Council of Married Women (5CMW), Papers of the Married Women's Association (5MWA), Records of the National Women Citizens Association (5NWC).

The Women's Library Printed Collections Catalogue holds a biography of Helena Florence Normanton QC (1882-1957) / Joanne Workman (ref 340.0924 WOR)

Bibliography

Sex Differentiation in Salary, National Federation of Women Teachers, London [1914]. Magna Carta & Women, 1915. India in England, Ganesan: Madras, 1921. Trial of Norman Thorne, The Crowborough Chicken Farm Murder, edited by Helena Normanton. Geoffrey Bles: London, [1929.]. Trial of Alfred Arthur Rouse, edited by Helena Normanton, W. Hodge & Co.: Edinburgh & London, 1931 Everyday Law for Women, Ivor Nicholson and Watson, London 1932.