Miss Margaret Gledstone

GCPH11-4a-36-57aFirstYear1916-MGledstone (2)
Margaret in her first year at Girton, Cambridge, 1916  ©The Mistress and Fellows, Girton College Cambridge[1]
Margaret Liddle Gledstone, 34, (1898-1987), educated at Girton College, Cambridge, was an organiser and press officer, and played a key role at the dinner, being the person to contact for tickets.  She built a wide-ranging career as an organiser and press officer, in Paris with the post-war Ambassador’s Conference, with literary agents Curtis Brown, various women’s organisations, the Y.W.C.A., and the National Association for Prevention of Tuberculosis.  Margaret died single, at the age of 89.

Tickets for the dinner can still be obtained from Miss Margaret Gledstone Western Mail, 15th March 1933[2]
Tickets for the dinner,for 10 shillings and 6 pence, could be obtained from Margaret, from 58 Cromwell Road, SW7, the Tudor Court Hotel (and still an hotel), just down the road from the Rembrandt and not far from the home of her maternal grandparents, Mrs. and Mrs. David Mason. She was one of four members of the Gledstone/Mason family attending the dinner – her mother, a great uncle and an aunt, all at her table.

Seated Beside …

If it were her choice – and perhaps as organiser she might have had some say in the matter – she might have preferred to be with at least one of the four guests on the table who were not family – the distinguished publisher Jonathan Cape? the actress Eva Moore? the wealthy socialite Lady Butterfield? the literary networker Sylvia Lynd? Your guess is as good as mine. As for family members her preference might have been to hear tales from Nigeria from her cousin and close contemporary Mrs C.R. Niven.

What’s On Her Mind?

Apart from worrying about people not having tickets, or being in the right seat, or asking if they could swap seats with someone, or other organisational matters, the relatively younger member of the party was probably just enjoying networking with all the remarkable people. And perhaps building up some useful contacts who would like their own events organised or their press relations polished. It is probable her career combined self-employment and employment, as opportunities arose. Introducing herself to the three senior Girton College alumnae might have also been an opportunity not to miss: Elizabeth Stevenson, Héléne Reynard and Minnie Moore – though working for the College Building Fund might well have involved such networking already.

Margaret’s Story So Far

Margaret was born on 28th April 1898, the daughter of Margaret Eadie Mason and William Liddle Gledstone, an insurance broker from Yorkshire. Educated at Croydon High School, In 1919 she achieved a Third Class History Tripos at Girton, Cambridge and received her degrees by diploma in 1928 from Girton, Cambridge (B.A. and M.A.).[3] [4]

Margaret was an archivist at the British Embassy in Paris for the 1920-21 Ambassador’s Conference.  Set up after the Versailles Treaty, the Conference was to enforce the peace treaties and to mediate various territorial disputes among European states.

From 1922-23 Margaret was Assistant Manager in the Magazine and Newspaper Department of the Curtis Brown Literary Agents.  There followed occasional work for the Old Vic., Sadler’s Wells and the Girton College Building Funds between 1923 and 1932.  From then until 1941 as she developed her career as a press and publicity officer with the International Conference of University Women, Housing Centre, the Women’s Employment Federation, and the Y.W.C.A. of Great Britain.[5]

At the time of the dinner Margaret was living with her parents at the family home of Peerie Hame, Guildown Way, Guildford (in the electoral register there between 1929 and 1938). In 1932 a Miss Gledstone (so quite possibly her), represented the Children’s Hospital, Hampstead at the funeral of Sir Charters James Symonds, in Harrow, alongside Lt. Co. J. H. Johnston and Mr F. Twyford.

What Margaret Did Next

Margaret was the Organising Secretary for the Vic-Wells Completion Fund (Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells Theatres), and for the Lilian Baylis Memorial Fund 1937-38.  From 1941-45 she was Publicity Officer for the Y.W.C.A. War Service, in 1940 recounting stories of Blitz valour.[6]  During WW2 she was a Member of the Press and Publicity Advisory Committee (Women’s) to the Ministry of Information, from 1942 to 1945, and after the war an Adviser to the National Association for Prevention of Tuberculosis (NAPT) in 1946, and 1952, its Press Officer.[7]

In September 1939 Margaret was living at 10 Jevington Gardens, Eastbourne, stated profession, organiser and press secretary.  In 1959 she attended the memorial service for Sir Robert Arthur Young, tuberculosis specialist and former chairman of the NAPT, at St Martin’s in the Fields.[8]

Her recreation (and presumably welcome escape from all this PR and organisation) was “wandering about Devon.”

Margaret’s nephew Christopher Spicer has written to us: “Margaret Gledstone was my mother Esther’s only first cousin and they remained close over many years. I do remember meeting her on several occasions. I have to state being in awe of her at the time ! One must remember that she was a Cambridge graduate, which for a woman was rare in the 1920s. I can fully understand that she would have been an admirer of Lady Rhondda.”[9]

Margaret’s father died in Farnham 18th March 1963, leaving probate to her. Margaret did not marry and she died in Hindhead, 3rd June 1987.


[1] ©The Mistress and Fellows, Girton College Cambridge. Not for reproduction without permission.

[2] Western Mail, 15.3.1933 Image ©Mirrorpix created by The British Library Board

[3] The Times 16.6.1919, p6

[4] The Times, 20.7.1928, p16

[5] From Girton College, Cambridge, Register (1869-1946, published 1948), with many thanks to the College Archivist, Hannah Westall.

[6] Story of how one woman continued to cook hot meals for the Y.W.C.A. despite bombs and then floods. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 19th December 1940 p2

[7] Commonwealth and Empire Health and Tuberculosis Conference, 8th to 15th July 1952. Press notice by Margaret Gledstone. The Indian Medical Gazette, March 1952 , p112 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5189838/pdf/indmedgaz73133-0074.pdf

[8] The Times, 8.9.1959

[9] With many thanks to Christopher Spicer for his recollections, not on for Margaret but also for his other relations, Mrs. C.R. Niven, John M. Mason and on Table 10, Louisa Martindale.  And thank you also to Christopher’s nephew Charles for addition guidance and information.

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