Papers of Elizabeth Vernon

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of letters to Mrs Vernon relating to a biography of Philippa Fawcett, the daughter of Millicent, which she wrote in 1957 and sent in typescript to Miss Douie, the then Librarian of the Fawcett Society and to Miss Philippa Strachey, Secretary of the Fawcett Society for many years, also to Dame Margaret Cole.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1957 Elizabeth (Betty) Betty Vernon was in correspondence with several individuals in relation to the completion of her biography of Philippa Fawcett. She sent typescript copies to a group which included Vera Douie, then the librarian of the Fawcett Society, as well as to Miss Philippa Strachey, the secretary of the Fawcett Society and Dame Margaret Cole. They wrote back to her to point out minor corrections to make to her manuscript.

Philippa Strachey (1872-1968), known as Pippa, was born in 1872 to Lady Jane Maria Strachey and Major Richard Strachey. She was brought up first in India, where her father was a leading figure in the administration, and then in London, where the family moved in 1879. Her mother was active in the movement for women's suffrage and both Philippa and her siblings were encouraged to contribute to this work. In 1906 she became a member of the executive committee of the Central Society for Women's Suffrage and the following year she was elected the secretary of its successor the London Society for Women's Suffrage. In 1906 she joined the London Society for Women's Suffrage, succeeding Edith Palliser as secretary the following year. It was also in 1907 that she joined her mother Lady Jane Maria Strachey in organising what became known as the 'Mud March' at the instigation of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and which went from Hyde Park to the Exeter Hall to demand the vote. During the First World War she was deeply involved in various war works, from being the secretary of the Women's Service Bureau for War Workers to participating as a member of the Committee for the London units of the Scottish Women's Hospital from 1914-1919. This war work began her lasting involvement with the issue of women's employment and she remained the secretary of the Women's Service Bureau after 1918 when it became concerned with helping women thrown out of jobs on the return of men from the Front. She remained there until its dissolution, which came in 1922, caused by a financial crisis in the parent organisation. However, subsequently Strachey helped to found a new group to fill the gap, becoming the secretary and then honorary secretary of the Women's Employment Federation. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, family problems took up much of her time as she nursed both her mother and her brother Lytton until their deaths. However, all through this time she remained active in the London Society for Women's Service and when it was renamed the Fawcett Society in 1951, she was asked to be its honorary secretary. It was that year that she was awarded the CBE for her work for women. She subsequently was made a governor of Bedford College. Increasing ill-health slowed the pace of her work and blindness finally forced her to enter a nursing home at the end of her life. She died in 1968.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Gift from the Vernon family in 1990.

Other Finding Aids

Fonds Description (1 folder only)