Miss E.M. Glidewell

EM-Glidewell.png
Eleanor Glidewell at W.P.S.U. offices 1913[1]
Eleanor Mary Glidewell, 44, (1889-1966) was a suffragist and WPSU organiser and speaker for the campaign across the UK in 1912-1913. She was assistant secretary to the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association in London until 1917, when she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force, becoming Deputy Assistant Commandant of the W.R.A.F. [2] [3] Two of her brothers died in France/Flanders, in 1915 and in 1916. In 1934 she was living at 22 Cathcart Road, London S.W.10.[4] Eleanor celebrated her 44th birthday on the day before the dinner.  She continued a career as a journalist – not least stirring it up when writing about “that well-known pest, the woman driver” – as well as helping physically handicapped children. One of my favourite finds.

Seated Beside …

I would have thought she would be seated with the probable table hostess, Marion Lyon so they could both reflect on the progress of women in the world – and she might well have been one person on the table that Marion knew the least. Perhaps Eleanor was alongside the actress Laura Wallis Mills, given that Eleanor wrote a play herself.

What’s On Her Mind?

For someone who had worked hard in the suffrage cause this surely would have been an evening to recall the efforts to date, meet old “comrades” such as Charlotte “Charlie” Marsh or meet some notable campaigners for the first time, as well as talk about the many tasks still to be achieved. As a writer she may also have been looking for new material.

Eleanor’s Story So Far

Eleanor-WSPU
At a Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) office, 1913. Eleanor Glidewell & Isabel [Gay] pasting papers, copies of ‘Suffragette‘ for 2nd May 1913 pinned to the wall behind them[5]
Eleanor was born on 22nd March 1889 (and baptised 12th March 1904), one of five children of Emily Glidewell née Stonhill, daughter of gardener William Stonhill, and Arthur Glidewell, a tobacconist’s foreman and storeman, living at 70 Rushmore Road, Clapton. Emily and Arthur were married on 19th June 1869.

In 1911 Eleanor was working as a typist at a publishing firm and a wonderful photograph survives of her working on suffragette activities in May 1913, age 23 (seated next to the man who is standing). During 1913 she co-signed a letter with Edith Rigby and Helen Atkinson to Keir Hardie, wanting him to take up a fighting attitude for votes for women.[6] In March 1913 she was organising suffrage meetings in Huddersfield (as organiser and speaker) and Leeds (Organiser, and thanking members for heckling Keir Hardie) – at a meeting that year sausages were thrown at the vegetarian Labour leader.[7] She was speaking in Leicester in June 1913 at a WSPU meeting (also speaking, Charlotte Marsh).[8] She also spoke in Poplar, Beckton Road and in North Kensington in November 1913.[9]

After the First World War she did work for physically handicapped children in London, until 1939.

In 1928 the Lichfield Mercury reported on her writing in The Outlook on the theme “Are Women Drivers Dangerous”, noting this is a much discussed subject but that she dealt with it in an insipid way.[10] You may be the judge of that.

ARE WOMEN MOTOR DRIVERS DANGEROUS! It may perhaps be not unprofitable to gather up some of the complaints which are made periodically about that well-known pest, the woman driver. We are told that women are selfish, bad-mannered, inefficient, arrogant; in fact, as drivers they are a menace to everyone on the road. To each other, too, but, of course, that doesn’t matter! The strongest complaint concerns the woman driver’s lack of decision, and our male friends emphasise, in writing about us in the papers, the dangerous confusion which arises from our indecision. And one must agree with them. Every day some incident occurs which accentuates my indecision. I admit it frankly. I have in my mind some strict rules of the road which give me no preference on account of my unfortunate sex. But can I follow my rules! A thousand times no’ And why! For the simple reason that I am much too nice to refuse every courtesy that comes my way; to do so would have a fatal effect on my character. So occasionally I accept an advantage offered by the chivalrous male as a tribute to the shape of my hat.—Eleanor Glidewell in “The Outlook,” April 14. [11]

Eleanor also wrote a play “The Prime Minister’s Wife”.[12]

What Eleanor Did Next

Eleanor continued to write and in the 1939 census she was a journalist living in a hotel in 51-53 Cartwright Gardens St Pancras (still an hotel today). That year she moved to Bebington in the Wirral where she took a job as chief administrative assistant to the local medical officer of health, retiring in 1954. In 1944, when living at 32 Church Road, Bebington, Wirral, she received a 2 guinea award in a Liverpool writing competition.[13]

Eleanor’s passing did not go unrecorded, her obituary in the Liverpool Echo being entitled most appropriately, “She Fought for Votes for Women”:[14]

Liverpool Echo 8th March 1966

She Fought For Votes For Women

One of the leaders in the Votes-for Women campaign, Miss Eleanor Glidewell, of 23 Woodhey Court. Bebington, has died suddenly at her home, aged 77. She was an organiser for Mrs. Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union, working in London and the provinces. Unlike many of the Suffragette leaders, she was never sent to prison, but was involved in several affrays between the suffragettes and the police. She frequently went on speaking tours in support of the franchise for women. Miss Glidewell was assistant secretary to the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association in London until 1917, when she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force. She became Deputy Assistant Commandant of the W.R.A.F.. After the First World War she did work for physically handicapped children in London until 1939, when she moved to Bebington. She took a job as chief administrative assistant to the local medical officer of health, retiring in 1954. Miss Glidewell was a member of the Bebington Soroptimists Club. She had been an invalid for the last few years and was almost completely housebound.

Eleanor died on 6th March 1966 and her probate was granted to Ida Mellor Wilson M.B.E., wife of Martin Wilson.

puzzle-piece2-50What is Eleanor’s connection with Ida? Ida (12.7.1902 Stockton-on-Tees – 30.6.1984 Shrewsbury – where daughter also born) was the daughter of Jonathan Samuel, manufacturer and Liberal MP, born in Tredegar, and Hannah Exley Mellor. What did Ida get her MBE for?

BACK TO TABLE 5


[1] The Women’s Library Collection, LSE, Eleanor at Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) office, 1913.

[2] Supplement to the London Gazette, 25.9.1918 p11395 https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30919/supplement/11395/data.pdf

[3] Liverpool Echo 8.3.1966 p10, Trinity Mirror, Digitised by FindMyPast Newspaper Archive.

[4] Private Residents Directory, Post Office, 1934.

[5] The Women’s Library Collection, LSE, A Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU) office, 1913. Photograph, printed, paper, monochrome, three women pasting papers at a table, a man watching, copies of ‘Suffragette’ for 2nd May 1913 pinned to the wall behind them; manuscript inscriptions on front of image and reverse ‘May 1913’, and ‘When? Who?’ (crossed through), ‘Eleanor Glidewell & Isabel [Gay]’

[6] L S E Library Sylvia Pankhurst Collection http://www.sylviapankhurst.com/books_&_resources/Sylvia_Pankhurst_LSE_Archives.pdf

[7] The Suffragette, 7.3.1913

[8] Daily Herald, 21.6.1913

[9] The Suffragette, 7.11.1913

[10] Lichfield Mercury, 20.4.1920

[11] The Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire Advertiser. 27.4.1928, reprinted from The Outlook, 14.4.1928

[12] Leon Marks Lion Papers, Rochester Campus USA accessed 3.2.2018

[13] Liverpool Echo, 25.10.1944

[14] Liverpool Echo 8.3.1966 p10, Trinity Mirror, Digitised by FindMyPast Newspaper Archive.

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