Aylward, Gladys

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises correspondence (1936-1939) between Gladys Aylward and the Whiskin family during her time in China, press cuttings (1936-1970's), publications, notices, Chinese texts for children, calendars, photographs and miscellaneous items including Chinese accessories.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gladys Aylward was born in 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. Travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Tientsin she then continued to the province of Shansi in North-West China, where she worked from 1931. She became a Chinese citizen in 1936. In 1940, against the background of government, communist and Japanese warfare 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 1940's until near her death in 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 Women by Alan Burgess (1957); London Sparrow by Phyllis Thompson (1989), and Gladys Aylward: the Courageous English Missionary by Catherine Swift (1989).


The collection is arranged into 7 sections: correspondence; press cuttings; publications; notices; Chinese texts for children; calendars; photographs; miscellaneous. Within each section, material is arranged chronologically.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

The material was donated via the Archivist of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in 1973.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Conditions Governing Use

No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance