Notable ONLs

Take a look below at some of the most well-known and accomplished Old North Londoners...

Anna Wintour: fashion icon

(North London Collegiate School 1963 - 1966)

Since 1988, when she became Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue, Anna Wintour has been fashion's fiercest force of nature.

Born in November 1949, from a young age Anna developed an eye for aesthetics and an enthusiasm for the publishing world. Her father was the editor of the Evening Standard, and often consulted her on how to make the newspaper appeal more to the youth of London, and her stepmother was the founder of publications such as Honey and Petticoat. Anna was destined to follow in their great footsteps.

During her education at North London Collegiate School, Anna showed a passion for fashion, frequently rebelling against the school's dress code by shortening the hems of her skirts. This seemed to pre-empt what was to come, as notoriously Anna has been known to cut off as much as 8" from the hems of clothes, without consulting the designers. Writing in the school magazine in 1966, she reviews "London's discotheques", paying particular attention to current styles, and noting that ‘the most way-out outfits are the expected uniform'. It was in the corridors of NLCS that Anna first sported her trademark pageboy bob, and she describes growing up in the 60s in London and that ‘seeing the revolution go on, made [her] love [fashion] from an early age'.

Having embarked on a career in journalism at just 16, Wintour chose not to go to university and began a training program at Harrods and then left, later saying, ‘you either know fashion or you don't'. In 1970, the publications Harper's Bazaar and Queen merged, and although the promising new magazine hired Wintour as an editorial assistant, she made no secret of the fact that she wanted ultimately to be the editor in chief of Vogue. After Harper's, Wintour became the fashion editor of ‘Viva', a women's magazine, fashion editor of ‘Savvy' in 1980, and in 1981 the fashion editor of New York. It was in 1983 that Wintour entered the Vogue family, becoming the magazine's first creative director, and then in 1986 at the age of 37, the editor of British Vogue.

Wintour, with her reputation for being very demanding, earned the nickname ‘Nuclear Wintour'. She was been responsible for the radical and revolutionary change British Vogue saw in the 1980s, a period which staff members called "The Wintour of Our Discontent" , and in 1988, she was appointed editor of American Vogue. With her natural instinct for fashion, Anna created a phenomenal impact on the fashion industry almost immediately, with a worldwide ‘bidding war' for the models she chose for Vogue's covers, and she introduced different such editions of the magazine as Teen Vogue and Men's Vogue. More than an editor, she is the figurehead of a $160 billion industry, and is recognised as one of the most powerful figures in fashion, dubbed by The Guardian the ‘unofficial mayoress' of New York.

Despite her icy reputation, Anna is a professional mother of two and a distinguished philanthropist, and since 1990 has raised over $10 million for Aids charities. She takes an active part in the careers of up and coming designers, presiding over the introduction of the CFDA (Vogue Fund) which encourages and mentors unknown fashion designers. As Manolo Blahnik said ‘it seems as if she can smell something on them, and then she goes ahead and brings it out of them'.

Written & researched by: Roxanne Alexander (Yr 12)

Prof Tanya Byron: clinical psychologist

(North London Collegiate School 1978 -1985)

Looking back fondly on her years as a pupil at North London Collegiate School, clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron said in a recent interview that she “ admired the way women pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable in terms of thinking and learning.” Of her favourite member of staff, English teacher Kay Moore, she said “Her teaching methods were really engaging: it was very much about bringing the subject alive and you could really feel her love for it.”

Although initially she did not have a great passion for academia, a family tragedy sparked her interest in how people behave and why they make the choices that they do, and decided to go to university. Clearly her time at school helped to shape her into the woman that she is today. Writing of a Geography field trip to Studland Bay when she was in the Sixth Form, she said “the week was very great fun, despite having to work until the early hours of each morning.”

She has enjoyed an exciting career ranging from being a practitioner to taking part in journalism and broadcasting. Working towards a career in clinical psychology, she was awarded her first degree from the University of York, before she went on to study for a Masters at University College, London. She finally earned a doctorate from University College Hospital and the University of Surrey, for her work on drug addiction.

Perhaps best known for her appearances as a child therapist, on television shows such as Little Angels and The House of Tiny Tearaways, Tanya Byron also works regularly on BBC television programmes relating to child behaviour, science and current affairs and presented the BBC radio programme All in the Mind, which focuses on issues to do with psychology and psychiatry.

Her articles can be found regularly in The Times, Good Housekeeping, and Girl Talk Magazine. She has produced a sitcom with comedienne Jennifer Saunders and advises the government on issues such as digital safety for children. One of the most interesting moments in Byron’s career was when she was commissioned by the Prime Minister in 2007 to investigate the harmful effects that internet and video games have on children. The final result became known as The Byron Review, published in March 2008. She has also published three books and recently became the chancellor of Edge Hill University and the Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. Now working in one or two clinics weekly, Byron also acts as the patron for the charity Prospex, which works with young people residing in North London.

Tanya Bryon is married to The Bill actor Bruce Byron and they have two children: Lily, 13 and Jack, 10.

Written & researched: Nadia Odunayo (Sixth Form IB Student)

Website Sub-Editor: Natalie Dragic (Yr 12)

Frances Mary Hamer: Photographic Chemist

School Hockey team, c.1912.
Frances Hamer, 2nd left, middle row

(1894-1980, North London Collegiate 1903 - 1913)

In 1916, Frances Mary Hamer had just completed her undergraduate study at Girton College, Cambridge University. At that time, women were not allowed to hold Cambridge degrees and could instead buy a ‘titular' degree, as a special arrangement for women. Independent in thought and deed, Frances refused as a matter of principle to accept this award, thus she received her first degree (DSc) from the University of London. The Cambridge awards (BA and MA) were granted 20 years later.

Born in 1894, her father was Chief Medical Officer of Health for London. Her mother and aunts on both sides of the family had attended NLCS, and moreover her mother (Miss Conan) had been on Frances Mary Buss' staff. The school's founder, after whom she was named, became her godmother, although she died shortly afterwards so Frances Hamer never really knew her.

Dr Hamer attended North London Collegiate School from 1903- 1913, and was greatly influenced by its headmistress, Dr Sophie Bryant. She was also a member of the hockey team, as well as editor of ‘The Searchlight', a school scientific magazine produced by pupils.

Editorial by Frances Mary Hamer NLCS pupils'
science magazine Searchlight c.1912

During World War I, whilst an undergraduate at Girton, she joined a research group led by William Pope. They worked on synthetic dye to be used in photographic plates, which were used for the strategically important military reconnaissance pictures, which were taken at dawn. The group successfully determined the structure of the dye and a reliable method of synthesis, and Frances earned the Gamble Prize in 1921 as well as a Cambridge University research fellowship. From 1924 she worked for Ilford Ltd, a photographic company, and then for Kodak till her retirement.

Her professional career was devoted to research into spectral sensitizing dyes and their use in photographic materials. A major player in this field, she was the first woman to be elected to the council of the Royal Photographic Society (1939), as well as the first woman to be awarded their silver progress medal in recognition of her work in photographic chemistry (1962). She was viewed as an outstanding research scientist and served on the council of the Royal Institute of Chemistry as well as being awarded fellowship of the Chemical Society, and her international reputation was built on her characteristic accuracy and attention to detail. After retiring she wrote the book The Cyanine Dyes and related compounds, published in 1967.

An enthusiastic walker and life member of the National Trust, 2 serious walking accidents greatly reduced her mobility in later life. Despite this, even into her eighties, she managed her house and large garden with little help, independent in thought and deed till the end.

Her obituary states "Dr Hamer was a person of character, intellect, charm and warm friendship." In 1983, a new science laboratory at NLCS was fittingly named after her.

Lillian Lindsay: Dentist and pioneer

(1880-1958, North London Collegiate 1894 - 1899)

‘I am afraid Madam; you are taking the bread out of some poor fellow's mouth'.

These were the words of Sir Henry Johnlittle when he heard of Lillian's desire to become a dentist. Yet despite these and many other criticisms Lillian Lindsay overcame the odds and went on to become the first woman to qualify as a dentist in the United Kingdom.

Born in 1871 to professional organist James Robertson and Margaret Amelia Murray, Lillian Lindsay was the third of eleven children. Education was an essential part of her childhood and she was educated at the Camden School for Girls before being awarded the Frances Mary Buss Scholarship at North London Collegiate School in 1886 which entitled her to two years of free education. At North London Lillian flourished and one of her school mates stated that Lillian was ‘clever with sensitive fingers...and seemed indicated as a pioneer'.

It could be said that Lindsay's road to dentistry began with a conversation between herself and North London

 Collegiate founder Frances Mary Buss. At Lindsay's refusal to become a teacher to the deaf and dumb the autocratic Miss Buss stated ‘then I will prevent you doing anything else', to which Lillian defiantly replied ‘you cannot stop me from becoming a dentist', and revoked Lillian's scholarship. Lillian herself cited this experience as the catalyst that inspired her to pursue her dreams of dentistry.

After leaving North London, Lillian began a three year apprenticeship, before applying to the National Dental School in London in 1889. As a woman, Lillian was prevented from even crossing the school's threshold, and was told to apply to Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Determined to defy the odds this is exactly what she did, and so in 1892 Lillian left her family and departed for Scotland to begin her studies. Edinburgh proved no different to London. As she was not allowed entry into the male classrooms, Lillian was forced to take lessons at the Medical College for women, studying under Dr Sophia Jex-Blake, one of the first qualified female doctors in the United Kingdom. Whilst at Edinburgh, Lillian defied her critics and obtained a Silver Medal for Dental Surgery (1893) and a Watson Medal in 1894. Lillian also met her future husband, fellow dentist Robert Lindsay, and graduated in 1895 as the first female to qualify as a dentist in the United Kingdom.

Throughout her life Lillian won many accolades for her contribution to dentistry. In 1920 she became librarian tothe British Dental Association, transforming the library beyond recognition. It was in 1931, after the death of her husband of twenty five years, that Lillian became sub-editor of the British Dental Journal and in 1933 she was the first female president of the Metropolitan Branch of the British Dental Association. Lillian Lindsay truly was a pioneer and in 1946 she was appointed CBE, and became the first and only female president of the British Dental Association. The Lillian Lindsay club was set up in her honour in 1962. Lillian stated in her autobiography that ‘the debt I owed to my profession was of equal importance to the debt I owed as a citizen' and it was this desire to help and influence society and change social attitudes towards women that is an indicator of the remarkable woman that Lillian Lindsay was.

Written & researched by Stephanie Adeyemi (Yr 12)

Barbara Baisley: Anglican Minister

(1947 - 2001, North London Collegiate 1954 - 1965)

"I came to realise that I was part of a struggle, and out of that, discovered a growing confidence and the conviction that here at last was something worth fighting for." Barbara Baisley, writing in the school magazine

Barbara Baisley left North London Collegiate School in 1965, having studied there for eleven years. She was one of the first women to be ordained into the Anglican priesthood and spent her life working hard to pave the way for females dedicated to God.

Having graduated from art school and studied at theological college, she was ordained deaconess in September 1982 and was made a Deacon, the ‘first rung' of Holy Order, in 1991. She secured a position as Assistant Chaplain at the University of Warwick and later became Chaplain from 1987 to 1993. During her time as Chaplain, in 1990, Barbara was appointed as the Diocesan Adviser for Women's Ministry, in which she had the responsibility of speaking and acting on behalf of women Deacons and of supporting them. She went on to become a ‘Bishop's Selector', a national post for determining candidates for ordination training, and held various posts in the Diocese and nationally. In 1992, Barbara obtained a scholarship to Harvard University and spent a semester in Massachusetts, exploring the way in which the Episcopal Church had adjusted to ordained women.

Barbara Baisley was herself ordained into the priesthood in April 1994. She was among the first group of women to do so in her diocese. The following year, in 1995, she was elected to General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England.

She had been diagnosed with cancer in 1986, and unfortunately this recurred in 1990, leading to her early retirement in 1997. However, she upheld her position as a ‘Bishop's Selector' and as Inspector for Theological Colleges and Courses and continued to carry out vocational work in the diocese. In April 2000, Barbara was involved in North London Collegiate School's 150th anniversary celebration service at St Pauls Cathedral, and in November of that year published "No Easy Answers", which confronts the issues of dealing with cancer.

Sadly, in September 2001 Barbara passed away, having dedicated her life to her family, to the advancement of women in the Church and to God.

Written and researched by Kirstie Conway

Edith Ingold: Chemist

Edith is seated in the middle of the front row
2nd Hockey 11, 1914 - 1915

(1898-1988, North London Collegiate School 1912-1916)

As far as we were concerned that was the first intimation that we had that an engagement was in the offing and, of course, they were married shortly afterwards" claimed F Dickens, one of Christopher Ingold's colleagues, after Ingold accidentally poisoned himself with phosgene in 1923, and Edith Usherwood was the first to his rescue.

Edith Hilda Usherwood was born on May 21st 1898. The daughter of an engineering teacher she displayed strong academic potential from a young age. When she won a scholarship to North London Collegiate School in 1912, the family moved from Horsham to Finchley so that she could take her place."

During her time at the school she received many prizes and won the most prestigious scholarship to study chemistry and botany at Royal Holloway College, from where she achieved a first class honours degree in 1920, and won many awards.

After this she carried out postgraduate research in organic chemistry under Martha Whitely at Imperial College, where she obtained her PhD in 1922, and where she met Sir Christopher Ingold whom she married.

She attained a DSc in 1924 but her research work stopped after the birth of her three children, Sylvia (1927), Keith (1929) and Dilys (1932). Thereafter, she supported her husband with the administration of his work, and eventually was appointed administrative assistant to UCL's chemistry department in 1946. She continued this job until her death in 1988.

Written and researched by Pernia Price (Yr 12)

Lindsey Fraser: Olympic diver

Lindsey Fraser was a member of the British Olympic Team in 1980 and 1984 and the British Team Manager for the Olympic Games in 2000 and 2004, She was also one of the Team GB coaches in Beijing in 2008.

In 2002 she was the English Commonwealth Diving Coach. She is a trained secondary school teacher and continued her teaching career alongside her coaching until she moved to Southampton in 1999. She now holds the post of Diving Development Officer at the Quays. She was awarded the Helen Rollason Medal as the top female UK Coach of the Year in 2004.

Lindsey is now Director of Coaching at the Southampton Diving Academy.

Esther Rantzen CBE

Old North Londoner (1958)

Journalist and television presenter

Esther Rantzen is best known for her long appearance in That's Life! and her help as founder of the charity ChildLine.

After leaving the school, she attended Somerville College, Oxford, where she read English and performed with the Oxford University Dramatic Society. She later joined to present That's Life! This ran on BBC One for 21 years, reaching audiences of more than 18 million. In 1986 she produced and presented Childwatch, which alerted the British public to the prevalence of child abuse, and successfully campaigned for a number of legal reforms in this area.

Now, alongside her television career she continues her work with ChildLine as a volunteer counselor on the helpline, and fundraiser and spokesperson for children's rights. For twenty years she chaired the Board of Trustees, and since ChildLine merged with the NSPCC, she has served as a Trustee of the NSPCC, and President of ChildLine.

Esther Rantzen is best known for her long appearance in That's Life! and her help as founder of the charity ChildLine.

After leaving the school, she attended Somerville College, Oxford, where she read English and performed with the Oxford University Dramatic Society. She later joined to present That's Life! This ran on BBC One for 21 years, reaching audiences of more than 18 million. In 1986 she produced and presented Childwatch, which alerted the British public to the prevalence of child abuse, and successfully campaigned for a number of legal reforms in this area.

Now, alongside her television career she continues her work with ChildLine as a volunteer counselor on the helpline, and fundraiser and spokesperson for children's rights. For twenty years she chaired the Board of Trustees, and since ChildLine merged with the NSPCC, she has served as a Trustee of the NSPCC, and President of ChildLine.

Esther Rantzen is best known for her long appearance in That's Life! and her help as founder of the charity ChildLine.

After leaving the school, she attended Somerville College, Oxford, where she read English and performed with the Oxford University Dramatic Society. She later joined to present That's Life! This ran on BBC One for 21 years, reaching audiences of more than 18 million. In 1986 she produced and presented Childwatch, which alerted the British public to the prevalence of child abuse, and successfully campaigned for a number of legal reforms in this area.

Now, alongside her television career she continues her work with ChildLine as a volunteer counselor on the helpline, and fundraiser and spokesperson for children's rights. For twenty years she chaired the Board of Trustees, and since ChildLine merged with the NSPCC, she has served as a Trustee of the NSPCC, and President of ChildLine.

Esther Rantzen is best known for her long appearance in That's Life! and her help as founder of the charity ChildLine.

After leaving the school, she attended Somerville College, Oxford, where she read English and performed with the Oxford University Dramatic Society. She later joined to present That's Life! This ran on BBC One for 21 years, reaching audiences of more than 18 million. In 1986 she produced and presented Childwatch, which alerted the British public to the prevalence of child abuse, and successfully campaigned for a number of legal reforms in this area.

Now, alongside her television career she continues her work with ChildLine as a volunteer counselor on the helpline, and fundraiser and spokesperson for children's rights. For twenty years she chaired the Board of Trustees, and since ChildLine merged with the NSPCC, she has served as a Trustee of the NSPCC, and President of ChildLine.

Marie Stopes: scientist

(1880-1958, North London Collegiate 1894 - 1899)

Marie Stopes was bought up in a family in which there was a strong appreciation of the importance of education. Her father was a scientist and much of her childhood was spent helping him carry out experiments and research in the field of geology. She was born in Edinburgh to Henry and Charlotte Stopes, and her mother was the first woman in Scotland to gain a certificate in arts and later a diploma awarded by Edinburgh University [this was the nearest equivalent to a degree at the time]. Through her mother, Marie developed a keen political awareness, especially of issues concerning women's suffering. As a child Marie Stopes was first educated at home by her mother. She then attended St George's High school in Edinburgh until 1894 when the family moved to London, and in October of that year she joined North London Collegiate School.

Marie Stopes was a distinguished member of the school Science Club, and later became its secretary. She was an extremely well rounded pupil who, amongst other things, took part in drama productions such as ‘Through the Looking Glass and Alice in Wonderland' in 1898. Marie Stopes also took a keen interest in English, and as well as being a member of the Literary Society, she won a school prize from the English Department for her 1896 holiday work. She attended North London Collegiate School for five years, from 1894 - 1899, and made a great impression, often giving talks to the science club on subjects ranging from her father's work on the classification of flints to her own interest in Botany, and in 1899, her final year, she was made a prefect for both the spring and summer terms.

Marie Stopes admission form to
North London Collegiate School

After leaving North London Collegiate School Marie Stopes attended UCL, where she gained a BSc in Botany and Geology, and later attended Munich University, where she became the first woman to be awarded a PhD in Botany. However, she soon turned her interests towards feminism and marriage, and started writing a book on this subject during the First World War. In 1918 she published her first book, entitled ‘Married Love' which was an immediate success, selling 75,000 copies within four months of release. This led to a desire to help women in need of birth control and family planning advice, and in 1921 she set up a Birth Control clinic in Holloway, North London, in an effort to remove the social stigma surrounding these issues. From this she developed the Marie Stopes International Charity which has since become the widest provider of family planning services in the UK. She also focused on the more general issue of women's rights and equality, and championed causes such as ending education authorities' right to dismiss female married teachers.

Marie Stopes worked tirelessly to educate women and to remove the social stigma from issues crucial to the education of women. Although in her later life she withdrew from the public sphere and focused more on her literary interests, nevertheless she provided an invaluable contribution to women's rights and education. Her influence on today's society is emphasized by the posthumous award in 1999 of ‘Woman of the Millennium', and by the ongoing success of the Marie Stopes International charity.

Written & researched by Rachel Jeal (Yr 12)

Emer Kenny: actress & model

Having acted with National Youth Theatre and Young Actor's Theatre, Emer Kenny made her television debut as Gail in BBC's Bafta-nominated Coming Down the Mountain in 2007.

She followed it with appearances alongside James Corden and Matthew Horne in the film Lesbian Vampire Killers and in Dominic Savage's credit-crunch drama Freefall.

This year Emer was selected to participate in the BBC's New Writing Summer School and was commissioned as a screen-writer on EastEnders: E20.

Whilst penning the second episode of the famous Eastenders drama she was also cast as feisty Zsa Zsa Carter.

At school, Emer acted in various plays and was the co-Chair of the Arts Society which produced the Fantasy Fashion Show in 2007.

Myfanwy Piper: Art critic and librettist

(1911-1997, North London Collegiate School 1920 – 1930)

Willowy banks of a willowy Cherwell a

Willowy figure with lips apart

Strong and willowy, strong to pillow me

Gold Myfanwy, kisses and art.”

With these lines from a 1938 poem*, John Betjeman celebrated Myfanwy Piper, art critic and opera librettist, who was said to have been the poet’s muse and the inspiration behind two of his best works.

Mary Myfanwy Evans grew up as an only child in Hampstead, and grew to love the arts as a pupil at North London Collegiate School, where she was an active hockey player and a strong swimmer. In 1930 she won a scholarship to Oxford University to read English Literature, at a time when women were kept in the background at universities, and she became an outstanding student, also leading her swimming team to victory in a 1932 match.

Through her friendship with Nicole Binyon, Myfanwy continued her interest in modern art, and in 1934, at the age of 23, she attended a summer painting party at Sizewell. It was here that she met her future husband John Piper, one of the most versatile artists in Britain in the 20th century. He put her in contact with the French-American abstract painter Jean Helion, who encouraged her to establish and then to edit the quarterly journal Axis, which became the most radical and stylish publication on art at that time.

In 1937, she was finally able to marry John Piper, who had till then been committed to an unhappy marriage. The couple resided in a farmhouse at Fawley Bottom, which became a gathering place for artists such as W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Christopher Isherwood, and Benjamin Britten. In 1953, Britten asked Myfanwy to write the libretto for his opera The Turn of the Screw, performed for the first time in 1954 in Venice, and she went on to work with Britten on two further operas – Owen Wingrave(1971) and Death in Venice (1973).

Myfanwy Piper’s first play The Seducer, based on Kierkegaard, was mentioned in the news section of the 1959 edition of the North London Collegiate School magazine, a journal which between 1928 and 1930 published several poems which she wrote as a pupil. The following appeared in February 1930:

Bury Hill

The strong pure line of downs swept round,

the centre dipping cone-shaped, where

a chalk pit gleamed and winked;

the Summer haze was full, and hot, and quivering,

one vast swimming opal,

vast! Adorable! And infinite.

Now, from a dream, a mere remembrance

shrill shreds of wanton nothingness,

we recreate – fragmentary, abrupt.

Myfanwy Evans. Upper VI.

Written & researched by Rugile Girdzijauskaite (Yr 13)



Gardner-Huggett, Joanna P. , “Myfanwy Evans: "Axis" and a Voice for the British Avant-Garde “

Woman's Art Journal, 21 (2) Autumn 2000 - Winter, 2001, pp. 22-26

Jenkins, David Fraser, “Obituary: Myfanwy Piper “ Independent, 22 Jan 1997

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury: philanthropist

(1858–1951, North London Collegiate School 1874-1876)

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury: philanthropist

Known as Birmingham’s “Grand Old Lady”, Dame Elizabeth Cadbury was “perpetually youthful in spirit” and “a hostess beloved by the poor children of Birmingham” – according to the News Chronicle.

Born Elizabeth Taylor, into an affluent middle-class Quaker family in 1858, she and her nine brothers and sisters were brought up in strict Quaker fashion. Aged 13, Elizabeth was sent to Germany along with her elder sister Margaret, as their mother had “A poor opinion of….schools in England catering for the daughters of gentlemen.” Later she recorded that: “We found...we were in some ways ‘peculiar’. We were Quakers; we were teetotallers; we did not go to the theatre; and we did not dance.”

Towards the end of her life Elizabeth Cadbury reached the conclusion that: “It had been good to face these tests, to stand for principles which, if not strictly speaking [mine], were those of [my] family and of [my] religious allegiance”.

Perhaps the most important result of her German education was to inoculate her against the jingoism and patriotism which pervaded much of her class in the periods before and including the two wars. She wrote that: “England slipped into her place as being one amongst others of the European countries” – a perspective that would prove an inestimable advantage in her later international work and interests.

In July 1874, she returned to London to complete her education at North London Collegiate School. In 1950, speaking at the dinner given to mark the school’s centenary, she remembered how Miss Buss [then headmistress] had “[swept] into the classroom with the sudden question, “Well, girls, what are you doing?” “Euclid.” “No, no. You’re learning to be of some use in the world.”” Elizabeth Cadbury certainly fulfilled her headmistress’s wishes.

After leaving school, she worked at a medical mission in Paris and also with boys and seamen in London’s East End, and in 1888, she married George Cadbury – a partner in the Cadbury chocolate business. She helped her husband shape plans for an experiment in housing reform; this led, in 1900, to the founding of the Bournville Village Trust, from which countless other initiatives followed. After George Cadbury’s death, she tirelessly pursued the social experiments initiated at Bournville, became chairman of the Bournville Village Trust, president of the Birmingham United Hospitals, and chairman of the Birmingham School Medical Service Committee (1911 to 1930).

Her travels in the cause of international peace took her to most European countries, to Canada, the US, and to Calcutta (as the leader of a British delegation to a women’s world conference). In 1934, she was created Dame Commander of the British Empire, in recognition of her “educational and social services”. Birmingham University made her an honorary MA, and Yugoslavia decorated her for refugee work during both world wars.

Mrs Cadbury was a Liberal whose politics remained radical and forward-thinking right into old age. The Lord Mayor of Birmingham commented that “Her vitality and interests in everything around her was outstanding in one so old”. On her death, in 1951, Mrs Cadbury received obituaries in every major national newspaper. The Times remarked that “It was typical of her to be a questioner of tradition”, whilst the Manchester Guardian called her “Tall, dignified, impressive… [with]…true humility of spirit.”

Dame Cadbury’s progressive politics, which undoubtedly stemmed from her Quaker upbringing, made her alive to the privations of others. A public servant of the highest order, she vigorously pursued reform and development both in England and abroad.

Written & researched by Violet Brand (Yr 12 History student)

Anna Popplewell: actress

(b. 1988, North London Collegiate School 2000 -2007)

“It was bizarre”, says Anna.” Today I had a normal day at school, then I went to Armani couture and spent three hours looking for a dress to wear to the premiere, then I went home to do my essays”.

The school to which Popplewell refers is our very own, during the year in which she finished the infamous, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the film in which she plays one of the lead roles, as Susan Pevensie, and for which she was nominated for several awards.

It is clear that she was shocked by her busy schedule as a young actress, and although she suggests that it was rather hectic, she dealt with it with maturity and organisation, sitting her GCSEs in April after filming had finally ended.

This former Senior Student (2006-2007) has many aspirations, which began quite a while before she was chosen for the part as Susan Pevensie. She has been acting since the age of six, and played film roles in Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Little Vampire andMansfield Park. Whilst at North London Collegiate School, she played lacrosse and learned sign language, hoping to use her drama to work with deaf children in the future.

Whatever rewards her talents have brought her, and however much fame and attention she receives, it is clear that she will always stay true to her roots, as she recognised at the Première of the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: “It’s really nice to bring the film home for us British actors and to be with the home crowd”. Having conquered the hearts and minds of many children and parents, as seen by her presence on the Peter Pan Award Panel, she serves as an inspiration to others. She has chased after her dreams, but never at the price of her education, and is living proof of her philosophy: “You get what you give”.

From North London Collegiate, Anna won a place at Magdalen College, Oxford, to read English. She has gone on to star in the Oxford University Dramatic Society.

Written & researched by Praveena Sivakumaran (Sixth Form History student)

Jessie Pope: poet

Pupils in the 1880s

(1868 – 1941, North London Collegiate 1883 – 1886)

When we talk of the poetry of World War I, we tend not to think of female poets, but Jessie Pope wrote a large number of poems on the war, and was a significant name of the period. Many of her poems were printed in The Daily Mail, and in 3 books of poetry, and she also published a large number of stories for children.

The Call was one of her most famous poems

Born in 1868, the daughter of Richard Pope, a commercial traveller, Jessie spent 7 or 8 years at school in Leicester, and then became a pupil at North London Collegiate School in 1883. Entries in the school magazine of the time rarely included the full names of pupil contributors. However, it is intriguing to wonder whether she is the author of a very literary account of a lecture, signed J.P., in an issue of Our Magazinedated July 1886. Certainly she showed early promise as a writer, having won a prize for her Holiday Work in English, in 1885.

As a woman, she never experienced life in the trenches, but her verse aimed to encourage recruitment ("Who’s for the trench — Are you, my laddie?"). Her work is often dismissed as jingoistic – their rhymes dismissed as “twee” or predictable - but her tone is extremely patriotic. Significantly, she was the inspiration for Dulce et Decorum Est, written by Wilfred Owen as an angry reaction to her verse. Some drafts were dedicated directly to her, and some to “A Certain Poetess”.

Helen Gardner: academic

T.S. Eliot and Dame Helen Gardner

(1908-1986, North London Collegiate 1919 – 1926)

“Helen Louise Gardner was a distinguished academic, who, as an editor and an interpreter made enduring contributions to literary studies”

Helen Gardner, born 1908, resided in Finchley as the middle child and sole daughter of journalist, Charles Gardner, and his wife. Helen’s father passed away when she was only 11, and her family moved to the home of her grandparents.

During her time at North London Collegiate School, she undertook many posts of responsibility, including Senior Prefect, and held posts on several pupil committees. The school magazine records her successes at sport, and her interest in the Arts is reflected there too, as she participated in many school productions, and wrote poetry and short stories.

Upon leaving school she won a place at St Hilda’s College, Oxford (in 1926), attaining a first-class honours degree in English and an M.A. Having lectured at the University of Birmingham and at Royal Holloway College, the most prominent of her career moves took her to Oxford, as a tutor, and led to her becoming Merton Professor of English Literature (1966-1975). This was a great achievement, as she was the first woman to hold this chair.

In the latter period of her life sgahe became a literary critic, with a particular interest in T.S Eliot’s work, as seen by her 1949 study, The Art of T.S Eliot, in which she presented numerous controversial and unique notions. For instance, she stated “If there are passages whose meaning seems elusive, where we feel we are ‘missing the point’, we should read on… [and] find the meaning in the reading”, to express that one must strive to interpret his work, as there is always a meaning however vague. She was also associated with the poetry of John Donne, editing John Donne: the Divine Poems and she compiled The Faber Book of Religious Verse and The New Oxford Book of English Verse and other works.

She was a lively, strong personality, and her clear, strong voice and enthusiasm made her a popular lecturer. Appointed a CBE in 1962 and a DBE in 1967, the truly inspirational characteristic of this ONL was her perseverance and her love of academia, reflected by the fact that she was granted honorary degrees from such universities as Cambridge, Harvard and Yale.

Written & researched by Praveena Sivakumaran (Yr 12)

The Times 6 June, 1986

Gardner, Helen, The Art of T.S.Eliot, London, Cresset Press, 1949


Gardner, Helen, John Donne: the Divine Poems, Oxford, Clarendon press, 1952

Gardner, Helen, The Faber Book of Religious Verse, Faber & Faber, 1972

Gardner, Helen, The New Oxford Book of English Verse, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1972

Maisie Gay: actress

(1878–1945, North London Collegiate 1891 -)

Maisie Gay has been described as a “laughing” and “humorous” character. Educated at North London Collegiate School, she did not originally have any intention of becoming an actress, but seemed to be taking the linguistic path. She took the Senior Cambridge Local Examination in English and in her chosen languages, and was also a form monitor.

What influenced her career choice was an extraordinary bus journey, when a chance conversation with a chorus girl started her infamous career.

Maisie Gay was born Daisy Noble, and her life also hid other secrets. Later in life, although Maisie said that her date of birth was 1883, accounts written by her father indicate that Maisie’s real year of birth was in fact 1878. A common practice during the 19th century, many actresses shaved years off their actual age as well as changing their name.

Once Maisie left school, her first stage appearance was in the chorus of the 1903 The Cherry Girl written by Seymour Hicks. She joined a theatre company, toured in the musical play A Country Girl, and became more famous whilst touring in America. A review appeared in the Times on her return: “Miss Maisie Gay has returned from America even more humorous than she was when she left us”, and she went on to appear in her friend Noel Coward’s London Calling! in 1923, later touring Australia with him.

A book cover by Maisie...

As her fame increased, in 1932 her film version of The Old Man screened cross England, greatly improving her status as an infamous actress, and she also began submitting articles to prestigious artistic papers. In 1926 she had written a piece forMusic Masterpieces , the beginning of her article revealing her bubbly and modest nature, “How do I get my laughs? I am so often asked this question, and yet I am always at a loss for an answer. People tell me that I have a comic personality, whatever that may mean, but I suppose, after all, it is the way one says a thing – or “cracks a gag,” as the saying goes” . Her autobiography (1932), called Laughing through Life expressed her belief that “The only laugh that matters is the one that comes straight from the heart, and the sentiment that inspires it must also come from the heart.”

Suffering from severe arthritis, she took premature retirement in 1932, and renovated the “Northey Arms” a pub situated in the village of Box. This was an immediate success, and became a place to meet influential writers, actors and musicians. Noel Coward regularly visited the pub and described her in his biography as plump with a pop-eyed face as round as a full moon. This pub has become part of Maisie’s legacy, and is referred to by the locals as, “Maisie’s.” Her close relationship with Noel Coward has been widely documented, and as an amusing and friendly character she acquired many other admirers for her humorous acting talents, rare for a woman at the time.

Thus, Maisie Gay was an actress worthy of the praise she received. A short notice in the issue of North London’s Our Magazine for 1942 – 1946 quotes a tribute from C.B.Cochran in the obituary from The Times “In her particular genre Maisie Gay was unique and irreplaceable…” The pictures scattered around North London Collegiate School illustrate her humorous nature through her unconventional poses, and make her stand out in the school corridors as well as in English acting history.

Written & researched by Olivia Beecham (Sixth Form History student)

The Times 7 December, 10, 1922

Gay, Maisie, “Laughter-Making in Musical Comedy”, Music Masterpieces June 1926, p179

Noble, Daisy Munro, Laughing Through Life, London, Hurst & Blackett, 1931

The Times, 1945

Dorothy Evans: suffragette

Photo: Mary Evans Picture Library

(1888–1944, North London Collegiate 1903 –)

Dorothy Evans was a political fighter, an active and passionate suffragette whose activities influenced women all over the United Kingdom.

Born in 1888, as a pupil she was an integral part of North London Collegiate School, making contributions to sport, music and the school magazine.

Within the school archives is a 1906 description of Dorothy’s skills as a hockey goalie “Considering this was her first season in goal, the goal-keeper did well on the whole. She stops balls well with her feet, but is not quick enough in clearing. Also she is not quite ready enough to run out if the need arises.” She represented the school for diving, won the choir prize for her year, and was lucky enough to receive a bottle of Eau de Cologne in 1906 for winning the Tug of War on sports day.

However it was not sporting or extra curricular achievements which enabled her to influence society, it was her quick, controversial mind and decision-making as an active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which led later to her imprisonment.

In 1910, after briefly training to become a gymnastics teacher, Dorothy was arrested for “failing to pay a dog licence” on the grounds that women should not be taxed, as they had no political representation. She became heavily involved within the movement and was soon acting as liaison officer between the WSPU headquarters in London and its exiled leader Christabel Pankhurst, who was residing in Paris. As she became more involved with the suffragettes, her militant tactics became more extreme, and in 1913 she was arrested for the possession of explosives in Ireland. However, many of her prison sentences were not carried out because she undertook hunger and thirst strikes.

Dorothy's admission form...

Suffragist Procession 13th June 1908 led by [from left to right] Lady Frances Balfour, Mrs Millicent Fawcett, Miss Emily Davies and Dr Sophie Bryant (Headmistress of North London Collegiate)

As the years passed and World War I enveloped Europe, Dorothy became a pacifist, and devoted her energies to gaining equal legal rights for women, and equal pay, and for attaining the right for women to have custody of their children. As these rights began to be granted, Dorothy focused her attention on elevating the rights of married women and their position at home. Very unusually for the time, Miss Evans had a daughter with A. Emil Davies, the treasurer of the Fabian Society, and the pair decided not to marry as she believed in “partnership held together by love, comradeship and mutual respect and not by legal ties.” What further shocked society during the 1930s was her long-term relationship with the feminist Sybil Morrison, but she was not perturbed by social stigma and continued to fight for what she believed in.

Dorothy Evans tirelessly strived throughout her life for women’s rights and managed to gain the respect of a wide-range of women. A forward thinker, Dorothy Evans left her mark on politics, and enabled women to enjoy a higher standard of living.

Written & researched by Olivia Beecham (Sixth Form History student)

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