Miss E.M. Glidewell

Eleanor Glidewell at W.S.P.U. offices 1913[1]
Eleanor Mary Glidewell, 44, (1889-1966) was a suffragette 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. Between 1930 and 1938 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, recently enhanced when Dinner Puzzle contributor Lizzie Broadbent pointed out that in 1926 Eleanor was in fact the Advertising Manager for Time and Tide.[5]

Seated Beside …

Eleanor may well have been seated with the probable table hostess, Marion Lyon: both were connected with Time and Tide and both were members of the Women in Advertising Club of London (WACL). Perhaps Eleanor was alongside the actress Laura Wallis Mills, given that Eleanor wrote a play herself. Eleanor would also have known Alice Mortimer, of Table 19.

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

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[6]
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.[7] 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.[8] She was speaking in Leicester in June 1913 at a WSPU meeting (also speaking, Charlotte Marsh).[9] She also spoke in Poplar, Beckton Road and in North Kensington in November 1913.[10]

After the First World War Eleanor did work for physically handicapped children in London, until 1939 including the After-Care Association for Crippled Children (see her escapade – literally – below).

By March 1924 Eleanor was involved with the Women in Advertising Club of London (WACL) – now known as the Women in Advertising and Communications, Leadership – and in October 1924 was elected Secretary for 1924.25, serving on the committee alongside Marion Lyon. She continued to serve on the committee in 1925/26 and in 1926 was also listed in the “Who’s Who of British Advertising” as “the Advertising Manager for Time and Tide“. [11]

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.[12] 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. [13]

Eleanor also wrote a play “The Prime Minister’s Wife” for which I have recently obtained a copy of the script.[14]

What Eleanor Did Next

Well, what does a suffragette publicist do next, once sausages have been thrown at the Labour leader, you’ve written a play about the PM’s wife, and followed your own rules of the road?  Only one thing for it, leave by the office window with as much decorum as you can muster, and ensure you book page three of The Daily Mirror…..

Screenshot (6073)
The Daily Mirror, 14.7.1938 page 3, ©Reach PLC. [15]


MISS ELEANOR GLIDEWELL was kept late in her office last night . . .

And that will cost London ratepayers — £5. For Miss Glidewell was LOCKED in.

So she did what everybody who gets locked in anywhere does. She put her head out of the window and shouted –

“Oy ! Can you fetch a ladder.”

For you see Miss Glidewell was a prisoner in an upper story of an office in Westminster’s Old Queen-street, the offices of the After-Care Association for Crippled Children in fact. A resident across the way heard her. Bawled back agreement.

So Miss Glidewell stepped back from the window and paced up and down. Then she looked out of the window again.

“My word,” she mumbled. For down below was a fire-engine, complete with escape, half a dozen firemen, a police sergeant, a constable, scores of eager spectators.

And under their appreciative eyes she was invited to make her descent.

Which she did. And in the big picture you see her doing it.

“It was the only way,” she told me afterwards. ” But I certainly didn’t expect the fire brigade to turn up in force. From an official at London’s Fire Brigade I was told that Miss Glidewell was liable to defray something of the cost of the brigade’s services—probably about £5 in her case.

In the little picture you see a snap of Miss Glidewell taken after her rescue.

The Daily Mirror, 14th July 1938 page 3.

Eleanor had 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.[16] Which perhaps helped covered some of the cost of forgetting the office door key.

Eleanor’s passing did not go unrecorded, her obituary in the Liverpool Echo being entitled most appropriately, “She Fought for Votes for Women”:[17]

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?


[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 and Electoral rolls.

[5] Many thanks to Lizzie Broadbent for contacting The Dinner Puzzle with this true nugget of information.

[6] 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]’

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

[8] The Suffragette, 7.3.1913

[9] Daily Herald, 21.6.1913

[10] The Suffragette, 7.11.1913

[11] More nuggets from Dinner Puzzle contributor Lizzie Broadbent.

[12] Lichfield Mercury, 20.4.1920

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

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

[15] The Daily Mirror, 14.7.1938 p3 ©Reach PLC. Digitised by FindMyPast Newspaper Archive.

[16] Liverpool Echo, 25.10.1944

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

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