Miss Nora S. Heald

Nora Heald The Sphere 27.8.27.p21
Nora Heald, 27.8.1927 The Sphere ©Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans[2]
Nora Shackleton Heald, 51, (1881-1961), journalist, one time teacher, was the editor of two of the leading women’s society magazines of her day, of the society magazine The Queen at the time of this dinner.  Later, from perhaps 1935, she was Editor of the women’s magazine The Lady until her retirement in 1954. [1] Nora’s younger sister Edith Shackleton was also on this table. They were both members of the WPC (Women’s Provisional Club), as were many dinner guests including Helen Archdale, Lilian Baylis, Alice Burton, Winifred CullisElizabeth HaldaneCicely Hamilton, Marion Jean Lyon, Emilie Peacocke and Lady Rhondda.

puzzle-piece2-50 We must research the 1933 issues of The Queen for a few ideas. We also would welcome a photograph.


Like Vera Brittain, anyone would have been a likely dinner partner, though we might assume that she did not sit with her sister given that they lived in the same house.  On the table we have suggested (see Vera‘s page) she would either be next to Vera or Violet and with one of the overseas guests (either of the overseas Sarahs, Macdonald-Sheridan or Millin) at the table.


No good leads at the moment though doubtless always on the lookout for what The Queen should be covering.


Nora Shackleton Heald was born in Accrington, Lancashire, on 31st July 1881, to Mary Shackleton (born Stacksteads, Lancs in 1857, died in Steyning, Sussex in 1934) and John Thomas Heald, a schoolmaster, born 1851 in Blackburn. Nora was baptised in the Chapelry of St James, Accrington, on 2nd October, one of four children: an older brother Harry (a mechanical draftsman in 1901, age 21); a younger brother, Ivan Shackleton, clerk in the iron works, 17 who by 1891 was in London working as a sub-editor in Fleet Street; and her younger sister Edith, then 15. At that time, at 19, Nora was a teacher of art in a school. Ten years later in 1911 she was still a teacher working for the Accrington Education Authority.

Father John Heald had abandoned the children in their youth (he seems to have been teaching in various places). Brother Ivan was regarded as “Fleet Street’s most acclaimed humorous writer” but all that was cut short when he joined the Royal Flying Corps and died on 4th December 1916 in Northern France, buried in the Cabaret Rouge Cemetery, Souchez, north of Arras.[3] The eldest brother, Harry, became a leading textile engineer, and moved to Coventry where he died on 6th September 1956. Harry’s son, Ivan, born a year after his uncle Ivan in France died, became a doctor and died in 1997 aged 80.

In 1918 Nora began her journalism career as Women’s Page Editor on the Sunday Dispatch, became Dramatic Critic for the Daily Mail, Women’s Page Editor for the Daily Herald and the London columnist for The Daily Chronicle, before becoming editor of the society magazine The Queen and probably from 1935, the women’s magazine The Lady, staying until her retirement in 1954.[4] [5]

Despite being a writer there is very little material easily available, though accessing the archives of The Lady and The Queen may yield more stories. For now we shall have to do with a few gleanings:

British actors.png

On 18th June 1920 the San Antonio News in Texas ran a story from their London correspondent accusing British actors of snobbery, opening with the view of Nora A. (sic) Heald that “The acting temperament seems to have skipped a generation of our women” after analysing the success of three American stars in London, Peggy O’Neill, Edith Day and Mary Nash. “We have sound actresses over the age of 35; there are a few promising beginners, but between them a sad dearth of stage genius”.[6] It’s good story is developed in the article – albeit a fairly predictable slanging match.

On 6th April 1929 Nora was on the radio talking about New Clothes (this was her stock in trade of course).[7] That year she was living with her mother and sister at 5 Waverley Place, St. John’s Wood, NW8.

In 1924 Nora Heald was called as a witness in a court case concerning a libel writ by Lady Terrington, where the plaintiff said the article made her look like “a vain, extravagant and frivolous woman” and that it had hurt her chances during the ongoing election – a Liberal MP, she did indeed lose her seat.[8]

On 11th March 1932, just over a year before the dinner, Nora of St Peter’s Place, Maida Vale, London W2, was fined £1 for the use of an unlicensed car.[9]


The story of Nora’s father is proving a little hard to pin down, as he seems to have been teaching in places away from the family after 1881 or so. However we do know that Nora’s mother Mary came south and she died when resident at Smuggler’s Cottage, Steyning, on 30th March 1934, a year after the dinner, lving close to her daughters.

From 1935 to 1939 Nora was living above the shop, so to speak, during the week at the offices of The Lady, in Covent Garden. Which would seem to confirm that she was at The Lady by then, perhaps also the Editor from that point too.


39-40 Bedford Street, the offices of The Lady, 39-40 Bedford Street, Covent Garden, WC2

In April 1937 Nora and several other PEN members cabled General Franco to protest at the imprisonment of Arthur Koestler, then a London newspaper correspondent, in Malaga.[10]

In 1939 she was living at 34 Church Street, Chanctonbury, Sussex, (aka The Chantry House, Steyning)[11], with her younger sister Edith. In February 1948 she moved out of the house for a while due to the scandal surrounding Edith’s lesbian relationship with the artist Gluck.[12]

Nora died on 5th April 1961 at Carisbrooke Nursing Home in Steyning, at the age of 80.


[1] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mgFhBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT170&lpg=PT170&dq=heald+editor+The+Queen&source=bl&ots=iH2TW4Mnau&sig=1lKXaIJnqJA0tje6_2YgAHE6eHU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiXmuSrjq_VAhXEaFAKHQEvC8MQ6AEITDAG#v=onepage&q=heald%20editor%20The%20Queen&f=false

[2] The Sphere, 27.2.1927, p21, ©Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans

[3] Joseph M. Hassett, W.B. Yeats and the Muses, OUP Oxford, 2010

[4] Miss Nora Shackleton Heald, The Times, 7.4.1961 page 17

[5] https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mgFhBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT170&lpg=PT170&dq=heald+editor+The+Queen&source=bl&ots=iH2TW4Mnau&sig=1lKXaIJnqJA0tje6_2YgAHE6eHU&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiXmuSrjq_VAhXEaFAKHQEvC8MQ6AEITDAG#v=onepage&q=heald%20editor%20The%20Queen&f=false

[6] San Antonio News, Texas, 18.6.1920 access via Ancestry.

[7] The Times 6.4.1929

[8] Manchester Guardian 11.11.1924

[9] Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 11.3.1932

[10] Dundee Evening Telegraph, 8.4.1937

[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chantry_House,_Steyning

[12] Nora Heald Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nora_Heald

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