Miss Barbara Hayes

no-picture-square3Miss Barbara Hayes[1] Phyllis Barbara Hayes, 22, (1910-1986) was the young secretary of Sir Norman Angell.[2] One of the younger dinner attendees, this would have been heady company. She was his long-time companion. His biographer Martin Ceadel writes: “A forceful tomboy, thirty eight years his junior, whom he always introduced as his niece, “the plump little lassie” – as a political associate in Bradford described her. She was never taken as his mistress though they forged a close bond. Lacking good career prospects, showing symptoms of manic depression, and perhaps also uncertain as to her sexual orientation, Barbara needed him for the employment, status and emotional stability he could provide.”


I’m sure she would have enjoyed conversations with all her table companions: a friendly chat with the successful Eleanor Farjeon, tales of America from Harriet of Philadelphia, and perhaps some interesting observations on the role of criticism in literature from Richard. Herself, although the youngest and not always confident, hopefully full of spark and ready for debate.


Another opportunity to hear Sir Norman Angell talk in a different setting, and a great chance to meet many more of the high achievers of her time in a relaxing environment.


Barbara was born Phyllis Barbara Hayes on 17th October 1910, baptised 27th November 1910, her parents living at 87 Abbotts Road, Southall at the 1911 census, the daughter of Helene Jacoby (1.7.1875 – 1968 ) and William Hayes, (1883 – 1969) carriage builder.[3] Her mother Helene was the daughter of the German born (Altona, Hamburg?) violin musician Martin Jacoby and his partly deaf Paddington born wife Laura Jane Turner (herself the daughter of a horse dealer). Her paternal grandfather was also a carriage builder, the family coming from Lancashire and Lincolnshire.

Barbara took a diploma at the LSE and in the year before the dinner resumed as Angell’s secretary. She was a political person with a commitment to progressive causes, which Angell respected. She was secretary of the Labour Association for the London University seat and would have strongly disproved if her “uncle” had left the party. She also became co-secretary of her local LNU youth group in Finchley where she lived with her parents William and Helene (at Bredon, Finchley).


Seven months after the dinner Angell took her on his trip to Canada and the US, to visit John Buchan, by then Lord Tweedsmuir and Governor-General in Ottawa, and then on his lecture tour through Canada, California, Texas, and the mid-western states to give her experience of US academia. From hereon she increasingly became his companion. In September 1939 she was living as his private secretary at his Northey Island home.

Sir Norman moved to the US during WW2 and in 1941 Barbara was appointed Head of the Speaker’s Section of the British Library of Information in New York.[4]

Barbara was awarded an M.B.E.. Later she and John Jacoby (I presume her cousin John Martin Jacoby) created a memorial to Norman Angell in Haslemere but she did not attend the unveiling as she was becoming unstable. Barbara died aged 75 on 12th June 1986 at the Arthur Rank Hospice, Cambridge and was buried in Saffron Walden.

puzzle-piece2-50a bit of a puzzle herself, it would be good to hear more, of her achievements and ideas.


[1] Martin Ceadel, Living the Great Illusion: Sir Norman Angell, 1872-1967 OUP Oxford, 16th July 2009

[2] Robert Calder, Beware the British Serpent: The Role of Writers in British Propaganda in the United States, 1939-1945, McGill-Queen’s Press, MQUP, 2004

[3] Phyllis Barbara Hayes, Find a Grave

[4] Robert Calder, Beware the British Serpent: The Role of Writers in British Propaganda in the United States, 1939-1945, McGill-Queen’s Press, MQUP, 2004, page 65


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