Men can be feminists: Lord Pethick-Lawrence writes about the suffragettes

Lord and Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Lord and Lady Pethick-Lawrence

An Unboxed Blog from Yaiza Canopoli.

Lady Pethick-Lawrence was an important figure in the suffragette movement. In 1907 she started the publication Votes for Women, with the help of her husband. Supportive male partners are not so rare these days. But in the early 20th century, a man would more likely be scared off by a woman who wanted the vote than to stand by her side as she campaigned. Lord Pethick-Lawrence supported the movement from the start, and in the 1950s published an article, preserved in the UEA Archive, reflecting on the impressive struggle for women to get the vote.

As a prominent and proud member of the Labour party, Lord Pethick-Lawrence begins the article by explaining that this is where the movement began, and where most of the suffragette tactics were taken from. Nonetheless, the women from the Labour party had to accept other political ideologies into the community, for the movement could not have survived by remaining ‘a section of a section’. What is interesting about this article is his praise for the more radical tactics adopted by the movement, ‘which would alienate the timid and the lukewarm’. This praise is a considerable change of opinion, for in 1912 he served a nine-month prison sentence for a violent form of protest that he and Lady Pethick-Lawrence disapproved of at the time (their disapproval caused them to be expelled from the Women’s Social and Political Union).

In the article, he endearingly praises the militant women involved in the movement:

A tiny suffragette—Mary Gawthorpe—had a cabbage thrown at her by a male auditor during a park meeting. Catching it and holding it up, she remarked: “I knew a man would lose his head before long.”

This kind of appreciation and subtle humour is present throughout the article. Perhaps the most hilarious passage is his recounting of a conspiracy trial staged by the government: he and some other suffragettes were found guilty in court and the judge sentenced them to nine months in prison, but he remembers the moment with humour, saying that ‘shortly afterwards [the judge’s] two daughters joined the organisation’.

This way of remembering the suffragettes in an almost nostalgic way goes to show that feminist men are not a modern invention, and that people were different back then is not a valid excuse for any kind of oppression. We are living in a time now where meninism has become a thing, and feminists are still seen as radical and men-hating by many people all over the world. This article puts things into perspective: feminism is not new, it is not the internet corrupting women, and it is perfectly valid for men to be supportive of the movement even today.

Another thing Lord Pethick-Lawrence shows his readers (both at the time he wrote and now) is how to be a good ally: write about the movement, write about the people who were involved and who had to fight for their own rights, and don’t make it about yourself.

Unfortunately the article is not preserved in its entirety, and thus we cannot read the full extent of Lord Pethick-Lawrence’s memories of the movement, but we get a clear idea of where his thoughts are headed. He and his wife might have disagreed with some of the more radical aspects of protesting, but they were undoubtedly an important part of the organisation, and their names deserve to be remembered.

Lord Pethick-Lawrence’s article can be viewed as part of the Kenney Papers in the UEA Archives at the University of East Anglia, alongside multiple documents and forms of correspondence between the Pethick-Lawrences and other suffragettes.

Yaiza Canopoli

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: February 2017

The second blog from our ‘Unboxed’ blogging project has been posted by student volunteer Freya Turner. Our thanks to Freya for this excellent piece: ‘Tessa Hadley on uncovering memory: do we really know our past’.

Mark Cocker, nature writer, was interviewed at UEA Careers’ ‘Working with Words’ on 25 Feb. by Archivist Justine Mann.

Teaching sessions delivered this month in the Archives drew in around 60 students. They included:

  • ‘Digital Media, Theory & Practice’. This session was repeated on the same day.  It introduced a practical digitisation project for which the Archives provided material and follow-on support.
  • ‘Writing the Wild’. Students had access to manuscripts, diaries, letters and notebooks from the collections of Roger Deakin and Mark Cocker; and watched recordings of Richard Mabey and W.G. Sebald.
  • ‘New Worlds: Science fiction and beyond’. This session was repeated over two days and focussed on the works and character of Doris Lessing, her interest in science fiction, Memoirs of a Survivor and Shikasta.

Doris Lessing Archive
The Whitehorn letters continue to generate interest – with requests relating to Lessing’s work as a Hansard typist, and an interest in her contemporaries in Southern Rhodesia.

Kenney Papers
Biographical material relating to Rowland Kenney (1882-1961) has been supplied to us by his grand-daughter. The activities of suffragette sisters Annie and Jessie Kenney are well documented, however less is known about their brother Rowland who was a British propaganda agent operating in Norway during both the First and Second World Wars. Rowland Kenney’s papers are currently held at the University of St Andrews.

Pritchard Papers
pp-16-2-1-59-eResearchers have been interested in the Pritchard family papers; Molly Pritchard’s influence on the design and ethos of the Lawn Road Flats; and artists and designers in the nineteen thirties. We also had a visit from the current resident of Molly and Jack Pritchard’s former penthouse flat at the Isokon Building.








UEA Collection
Staff have been gleaning information on past gigs and bands; and looking back at a 1983 exhibition on the fine bindings held in a collection owned by Sir Robert Sainsbury.

Zuckerman Archive
WWII bombing reports from the RAF Bombing Analysis Unit have been consulted from this collection.


Sangatte coastal battery, Zuckerman Archive

Special Collections
There were 28 enquiries.

Tessa Hadley on uncovering memory: do we really know our past?

tessa_hadley-copyright-mark-vessey-2015An Unboxed blog from Freya Turner, student blogger from the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (University of East Anglia).

‘Let me take you back just a few years. It’s 2013, and the UEA Literary Festival is hosting authors such as Rose Tremain, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan. Among them is the perhaps lesser-known Tessa Hadley (pictured right), making her first appearance at the festival. What immediately becomes apparent to the audience is her generosity and patience to treat them to a reading of one of her short stories, ‘An Abduction’, in its entirety. For those who aren’t familiar with the Literary Festival’s format, it very rarely happens that an author will read the entirety of one of their texts. For Hadley to somewhat rebel against this format only makes her appearance at the festival stand out more. Hadley has written several novels and short stories, which focus predominantly on family relationships and women. ‘The Abduction’ is no exception to this.

The story concerns a fifteen year-old girl living in Surrey in the nineteen-sixties, and it negotiates and complicates the relationships between childhood and adulthood, and trauma, time and memory. The story involves Oxford University students, women’s bodies, British suburbia, drugs and the titular abduction.

When asked about the violent domesticity of the story, and how the term domesticity is often applied to women writers, Hadley confirms that there is indeed a gender divide in the process of writing domesticity. She goes even further and argues that a novel about family somehow becomes ‘domestic’ when a woman writes it, whereas when this is written about by a man this is never the case. She is a writer who shows great maturity in her understanding of how she and other women writers are perceived in writing about the family; a writer who is concerned about the writing community as well as her own work. Hadley coherently articulates why she so often writes about the family. She believes that the novel and the family are more or less the same thing; they both concern people within small spaces who haven’t necessarily chosen to be together, and it is this very notion that allows people to grow into themselves.

When Hadley discusses memory within her story, it is almost as if something in her lights up. She points out that there is a reductive model of memory in literature, where people can access the past because it supposedly remains within their minds. In a lot of novels, she argues, characters fix something unwanted from their past that is making their present unbearable. When this process is complete, the present is fine again. Hadley doesn’t believe in this model, instead believing that processing and narrating the past is a lot more complicated. We are not reliable in terms of remembering the past, but, as she emphasises, this is interesting because this both frees us and troubles us. It becomes apparent that Hadley really understands the delicacy and dysfunctional traits of humans, and looks to celebrate it. When I watch the interview it seems like this is less a sense of personal preference for her, and more a feeling of responsibility. Another impressive thing about Hadley is that she is not afraid to put our perceptions of ourselves in different directions.

Hadley rather modestly goes on to say that the silences in her work prevent her writing from spoiling or diluting her narrative. She argues that silence is powerful. For Hadley, great writing is associated with subtlety and what is not said. What becomes apparent is that Hadley not only shows a sense of delicacy within her characters, but also in her writing style, and this is a skill that very few writers truly achieve.

At the end of the interview, Hadley tells us that ‘An Abduction’ is a story about momentarily stopping the process of growing up. It is about how, in trying to teach ourselves a lesson in life, and holding on to this lesson, we actually hinder the growth that is necessary to become an adult. It is this final remark that encapsulates just how confidently and eloquently Hadley confronts the various ways in which we naturally tend to think about and lead our lives. Her writing explores what it is like to think in the modern age, especially concerning the modern understandings of memory. She is therefore a writer for our time, and of time itself, and a writer with such a talented awareness must not go unnoticed.

The video recording of Tessa Hadley’s interview can be viewed at the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at UEA, along with interviews with many other famous authors.’

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update: January 2017


Charlie Higson’s script

This month saw the first post of the ‘Unboxed’ blogging project. Our thanks to student volunteer Andrew for his contribution. Chance Meetings: Roald Dahl, Monica Dickens and Charles Pick.

Induction of students to the project is continuing and professional blog training workshops have been arranged for later this semester.

Preparation is under way for the use of selected items from the Kenney Papers (suffragette archive) in a digital humanities practical assignment (Digital Media Theory and Practice).

Television scripts and sketches from Charlie Higson’s Archive have been used in a media studies lecture to support discussions on the meaning of culture and the forms of culture which may not get collected and preserved.


Alvar Aalto outside Palmio Sanatorium, Finland (completed 1933). Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia

An Art History student from Scotland visited to consult the Pritchard Papers, in particular the papers on Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. And a screenwriter is currently researching the personal lives of Molly and Jack Pritchard.

Enquiries have been received for letters to John Whitehorn written by Doris Lessing; and for letters to or from Sylvia Plath. Although we don’t hold letters from Plath we were encouraged to find related correspondence between Ted Hughes’s sister (Olwyn Hughes) and Doris Lessing.

The Zuckerman Archive has attracted television producers researching WWII bombing raids in Hull. Further enquiries have related to the British Bombing Survey Unit, and ballistics.

On a lighter note, Roger Deakin’s walk through the ancient forests of Poland is being looked at more closely by a researcher there. More can be read about his journey from Ukraine and through Poland in his book Wildwood.

Closer to home, Alan Hunter’s series of novels on Inspector George Gently has been the focus of a piece written on literature and historic houses. Hunter used Holkham Hall in Norfolk as the basis for the setting of his novel Landed Gently (1957).

A feast of languages – Shakespeare in Translation on display at UEA


Shakespeare in Translation

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT) in London put together a collection of translations of Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream into many of the official languages of the European Union.

Seventeen languages are represented in addition to English: Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish. The versions were donated by Field Officers in the respective EU Member States and are on display in three exhibition cases within the lobby of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) library.

The DGT kindly agreed to lend the collection to UEA to coincide with the workshop conference ‘Shakespeare in Translation’, hosted over the weekend of 10-11 December 2016 by the British Centre for Literary Translation in collaboration with the British Council, Globe Education, the Romanian Cultural Institute and Writers’ Centre Norwich.

The exhibition continues until Easter 2017.

Professor Duncan Large

British Centre for Literary Translation

More information:

Chance Meetings: Roald Dahl, Monica Dickens and Charles Pick


Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal photographed by Carl Van Vechten (1954) – Library of Congress Collection (public domain)

An UNBOXED blog from Andrew Kenrick

“The stories of how authors meet their publishers or publishers meet their authors are legendary and many are coincidental.”

— Charles Pick, unpublished memoirs 

It is April, 1960. Roald Dahl has just published his second collection of stories, Kiss Kiss, to some acclaim in the United States but is having difficulty making a success of it in the UK. Determined to find a publisher in Britain, he returns from America with his young family on board the SS Queen Mary. Through some incredible coincidence, on this same voyage is the publisher Charles Pick, who is glued to a copy of Kiss Kiss.

While this anecdote appears in Roald Dahl’s biography, Storyteller (1), the incredible full story is related only in Pick’s unpublished memoirs (2).

Early in the voyage, Pick learned that Roald Dahl was on board and, having enjoyed his book, was determined to speak to him, but he could never find him at dinner. Eventually he marched down to Dahl’s cabin, successfully evading the snooty purser, where he was greeted by a scene of utter chaos. The crossing was rough and Dahl’s whole family had been beset by seasickness, his two children and their nursemaid vomiting profusely as the door was opened. Clothes and luggage were strewn everywhere, as his American wife, the actress Patricia Neal, turned over the cabin searching for a lost diamond. Amidst it all, stood the striking figure of Roald Dahl himself, telling her to stop, as he “never did like it.” The diamond was, then, worth £2000.

Later, when the seas – and the family’s stomachs – had calmed, Pick took them to dinner, making Dahl an offer to publish Kiss Kiss. Unsure what to do, for he knew he had other offers waiting for him on arrival, Dahl sent a telegram to his agent, asking for advice. Pick thought no more of it until after they had docked in Southampton. There, as Pick left the customs shed, Dahl came running after him waving a piece of paper and shouting “It’s all yours! It’s all yours!” The paper was a reply from his agent, telling him to accept Charles Pick’s offer before he changed his mind. This was to be the making of Roald Dahl’s literary career in the UK.

Charles Pick (1917-2000) was one of the giants of the British publishing world in the 20th century, a distinguished literary agent and publisher who worked for Victor Gollancz and Michael Joseph ending up as chair of the Heinemann Group until his retirement in 1985. Over the course of his career he championed, nurtured and corresponded with some of the literary greats, including JD Salinger, Wilbur Smith, Graham Greene, Catherine Cookson, JB Priestley and many more.

Roald Dahl was far from the only author whom Charles Pick met by chance. Another was Monica Dickens, great-granddaughter of Charles, who would go on to become “one of the best-selling authors of her generation” (3) as well as a close personal friend of Pick’s. Pick first met Dickens in 1937 at a charity dinner organised by a friend’s mother, where he found himself spellbound by her stories of life working “below stairs” as a cook. Later, he learned who she was and told her, “if she could write a book as well as she could tell a story, she could write a bestseller”. She was signed up immediately, and six weeks later had written her first novel, One Pair of Hands, which, as Pick had predicted, became her first bestseller.

These stories, along with many others, can be read in Pick’s unpublished memoirs, which, alongside diaries, letters, obituaries, cuttings and tapes, form the Charles Pick Archive. The Charles Pick Archive shines a light on the business of some of the most important British publishers of the 20th century, and can be accessed at the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at UEA.

Andrew is a former editor turned writer, who is studying for an MA in Creative Non-fiction at UEA. He writes about food, travel and ancient history, sometimes all at once. 

1 Donald Sturrock, Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl (United States: Simon & Schuster, 2011), p356-377

2 Charles Pick (1990), Memoirs. Unpublished manuscript.

3 Charles Pick, “Obituary: Monica Dickens,” The Independent (Independent), December 31, 1992,

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update #8: December 2016

This month our students have been looking at love letters to John Whitehorn and papers relating to feminism in Doris Lessing’s Archive; and the Kenney Papers for a dissertation on the suffragette movement.

External visitors have been looking at the iconic Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, North London, including the resident Isobar Club and the Half Hundred (dining) Club.

We were able to assist an alumnus with a blog on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and his recollections of the public lectures held at UEA to mark the 50th anniversary in 1967.

It’s 40 years since the Sex Pistols were due to play at UEA. Television and radio interviews have taken place in the Archives to mark the anniversary of the cancelled gig which was scheduled for 3 December 1976. Eastern Daily Press article.

sz-sc-31-eThe Zuckerman Archive has received enquiries relating to WWII casualty surveys; and 1950s primate research relating to the measurements of skulls and teeth of vervet (green monkeys) in Gambia and St Kitts.

Special Collections: There were 8 enquiries.

Season’s Greetings to all our archive users.

Exploring the Archives: a monthly update #7: November 2016

The Archives’ engagement with students continued throughout the autumn wi167th over 25 students visiting to learn more about our ‘Unboxed’ blogging opportunities and we had a few early starters submit their first drafts.

Teaching continued with an LDC (Literature, Drama and Creative Writing) PGT module ‘Fiction after Modernism’. The writing of Muriel Spark, Iris Murdoch and Doris Lessing were explored.


A 6th Form College member of staff visited the Archives as well as other parts of the Library to explore ways in which we could engage with their students. One example of this is another local 6th Form College who visits us each year to consult books from our Special Collections relating to Kett’s Rebellion (a Norfolk rebellion of 1549).

Doris Lessing Archive

  • A student has been consulting Lessing’s love letters to John Whitehorn as well as correspondence with the author Harry Ritchie.
  • There has been an enquiry from a Professor of History at the University of California – on correspondence and comments relating to Idries Shah (Sufi teacher).

Hill Papers

John Hill, politician, used to own Blyford Estate, a large agricultural estate in Suffolk. An owner of one of the farms has visited and we have been able to provide copies of historical documents and photographs relating to his property.

Pritchard Papers

  • A researcher has been looking at artists and writers of the 1930s.
  • A 4th year Art History student from St Andrew’s has enquired about correspondence between Alvar Aalto (Finnish architect) and Jack Pritchard; and the influence of Molly Pritchard on Lawn Road Flats.
  • We have learnt that one of our copyright holders of photographs in this collection has passed away at the age of 104 (photographer Wolfgang Suschitzky – he held the copyright for his sister’s photos, Edith Tudor-Hart).

UEA Collection

A number of students uea-pho-20-32-jpghave been consulting a publication on the natural history of UEA. The campus is roughly 130 hectares, includes wild and open spaces and a landscape which is integral to the showcasing of the ‘ziggurats’ student accommodation, designed by Denys Lasdun.

Special Collections

There were 21 enquiries.

Snoo Wilson Scriptwriting Prize

snoo-wilson-prize-poster-2On Thursday 1 December 2016, the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing will award the Inaugural Snoo Wilson Prize for Scriptwriting.

There will be performed readings from the shortlist (student names featured in the poster – right).

Date, time, venue:
1 December, The Garage in Norwich – 7-9pm
How to find The Garage:
Light refreshments will be provided

More about the prize and about Snoo Wilson

snoo-wilson-portrait-by-josephine-wilsonThe late Snoo Wilson read American Studies at UEA and was taught by the author and literary critic, Malcolm Bradbury. He graduated in 1969 and began his writing career in the same year. He was one of a handful of playwrights who reinvented British theatre in the 1970’s and 80’s. More About Snoo Wilson.

The Snoo Wilson Archive was gifted to the British Archive for Contemporary Writing in 2015 and the Faculty of Humanities kindly funded the prize which acknowledges Snoo’s legacy. The award of £500 will be given to the student who has written the strongest dissertation submission.

Drama students will perform readings of extracts from each of the shortlisted UG and PG dissertation scripts before the winner is announced.

Also in attendance will be members of Snoo Wilson’s family and friends, judges: Steve Waters, Adam Taylor (The Garage in Norwich) and Tony Frost and an invited audience of students/ and families of the shortlisted entrants.

Professor of Playwriting, Timberlake Wertenbaker, is unfortunately unable to attend but her  colleague, Steve Waters, will read her tribute to the award and the shortlisted students.


Exploring the Archives: a monthly update #6: October 2016

October has been a month of engagement:

  • An array of teaching sessions
  • A pop-up stand at UEA Open Day
  • Introductory sessions on a new blogging opportunity for students to become involved in the collections’ content
  • Staff training at the Archives Hub
  • Visits from depositors: Helen Hunter (Alan Hunter Archive) and Richard Beard (novelist & non-fiction writer)

Teaching sessions

  • Using Archives for Biography and Creative Non-Fiction

A seminar for MA post-graduate taught students in the School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing (LDC).

  • MA Literary Translation Seminar
  • Cultures of Suburbia

Seminar: Cultures of Suburbia

Another LDC undergraduate seminar focussing on the collections of Doris Lessing and her correspondence with John Whitehorn, Margaret Drabble, Muriel Spark and Quentin Bell. They examined the role of women in the short story To Room Nineteen and the novel The Fifth Child.

  • Reading the 18th century novel

Seminar for 3rd year undergraduates.

Roger Deakin Archive

We are continuing discussions with the BBC to gain online access to the BBC’s productions of The House (about Deakin’s home at Walnut Tree Farm) and The Garden. Requests have been received both nationally and internationally.
Photo: Walnut Tree Farm.


Doris Lessing Archive
An enquiry was received on Lessing’s property in Dartmoor.

J.D. Salinger – Hartog Letters
Consulted by a UEA student.

Kenney Papers
A Finnish publisher has requested permission to reproduce a photograph which appeared in the English edition. Caught in the Revolution, Stalingrad 1917 was researched and written by one of our archive readers.

Pritchard Papers
pp-16-2-30-53-b-johnmaltbycpyrocA researcher has visited to examine the papers of the tenants of Lawn Road Flats and the theory that the flats supported Russian spies. Much has been written on this yet there are still more angles to explore.
Photo: Lawn Road Flats by John Maltby ©Pyrok Ltd

UEA Collection
The Deputy Director of Estates has been looking at UEA’s early development plans and the architects’ vision for the teaching wall and wider campus.

W.G. Sebald Audiovisual Archive
This archive was viewed by a PhD candidate in Creative Writing from Western Sydney University who is studying 21st century fiction (particularly hybrid genre works).