Personal Papers of Gwendolen Freeman

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises a spectrum of GF's life at Girton (1926-29) and is accompanied by her own detailed notes. It includes letters written to family and letters received from Cambridge luminaries, a draft of her book 'Alma Mater', and correspondence surrounding the book's publication. The letters home are very chatty and enthusiastic in style and contain many vivid details about her daily life and activities at Girton, something that also is to be found in 'Alma Mater'. Of special interest in the Cambridge collection of letters are those from distinguished academics such as FR Leavis.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gwendolen Freeman had a liberal family background: she was the daughter of William Freeman and Lucy Constance Rimmington, a journalist and a teacher respectively, the granddaughter of a minor artist (also William Freeman) and the sister of a journalist and an artist. She was educated at Tiffin Girls' School in Kingston-on-Thames where her mother had been a teacher, and came to Girton 1926-1929 as an Emily Davies Scholar to read English. During her time at Girton she achieved a First in Part I of the Cambridge Tripos and was awarded the Charity Reeves Prize. After completing Part II of the Tripos, GF had the opportunity to further her studies in English Literature in America but her mother, and family circumstances, persuaded her to pursue a career in journalism. She was very successful and worked for a variety of newspapers in London and the Midlands. In 1940 she became the Editor of 'The Samaritan' and then from 1953 she freelanced for the National Press - this, despite the limited scope for women in the profession at the time. During the latter stage of her career, she concentrated on writing books and had a prolific output. Her publications include poetry, fiction and 'Alma Mater', an autobiographical work based on her life at Girton.GF's career also included official and charitable posts. During the Second World War, she worked as the Public Relations Officer for the Ministry of Labour in the Midlands Region (1941-1945) and was a Committee Member of the Birmingham Library (1940-1945). Throughout her career, she employed her skills as a journalist to write articles to promote charities, and between 1930 and 1945 she worked for the Birmingham Settlement, a charitable publication. She raised a family of adopted and foster boys while still in full-time employment, and now has many grandchildren.

Conditions Governing Access

Please cite as Girton College Archive, Cambridge, Personal Papers of Gwendolen Freeman, GCPP Freeman

Other Finding Aids

As at Sep 2008 an online catalogue was available at http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/

Archivist's Note

Collection Description taken from JANUS in Sep 2008 as part of Genesis 2008 Project [JANUS Description prepared by Harmony Lam, 2006.]