Marlborough History Society to host biographer of Eglantyne Jebb - Save the Children Fund’s founderClare Mulley, author of the award winning biography of Eglantyne Jebb, The Woman Who Saved Children, will be speaking at Marlborough History Society on Thursday, May 16 at 7.30pm in St. Peter’s Church.
Eglantyne Jebb was the founder of Save the Children Fund and she had two strong connections with Marlborough.
The talk will be just a few days before the centenary of the founding of the charity on May 19 1919. It marks the first of several events to celebrate the centenary and Marlborough’s connections with Eglantyne Jebb.
The first Marlborough connection involves Eglantyne Jebb’s much loved younger brother, Gamul, who was at Marlborough College in the 1890s. At that time Eglantyne was studying at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.
She received a letter from her mother telling her that Gamul had caught a chill. Two weeks later a telegram arrived announcing his death.
Clare Mulley told marlborough.news: “This was a watershed moment for Eglantyne. Her brother had wanted to become a doctor. She dreams about him for years afterwards and his death makes her acutely aware of the potential of youth and the value of life. She makes a commitment to live a life of social worth.”
Following her studies at Oxford, Eglantyne trained as a teacher at Stockwell Teacher Training College in London and then insisted on working at a school for the poor. This leads to the second Marlborough connection.
In 1899, aged twenty-four, Eglantyne arrived in Marlborough to teach at St. Peter’s School which was in the building that is now Marlborough’s library. Her Uncle James was a Maths teacher at Marlborough College and lived nearby.
Clare Mullley explained: “This was the first time Eglantyne really saw the poverty of children and she writes a wonderful report about the lack of resources in the school together with a very moving account of six individual pupils.”
Clare Mulley believes that Eglantyne was unusual in that she did not view children in the traditional way for the time – as cute and innocent or like animals with basic instincts and lacking in morality.
“She was not sentimental or maternal and saw children as individuals and respected them in a new way.”
In the aftermath of World War One in 1919, it was the plight of starving children in Europe, victims of the blockade, that led her and her sister to take action.
On May 19, 1919 Save the Children Fund was set up at a packed public meeting in the Royal Albert Hall, London. Publicity campaigns used shocking images of children suffering from the famine in Europe and considerable funds were raised to tackle the crisis.
Eglantyne became a champion of rights for children and was responsible for the creation of the ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child’ which was adopted by The League of Nations in 1924 - and inspired today’s UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Clare Mulley first became interested in Eglantyne Jebb when she was working for Save the Children Fund. Her biography The Woman who saved Children was first published in 2009. It has been republished this month to celebrate the centenary and all Clare Mulley's author royalties will be donated to the charity.
Clare has published two other books – The Spy who Loved (2013) - a biography of Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, Britain’s first female special agent of the Second World War. And The Women who Flew for Hitler (2017) - a dual biography of two extraordinary women who were Nazi test pilots and ended their lives on opposite sides of history.
Clare is also a regular contributor to TV and radio, recently gave a TEDx talk at Stormont, wrote the BBC Reith Lecture quiz and lectures in London and Paris.
Guests are welcome to attend Clare’s talk at Marlborough History Society on May 16. To find out more go to : http://www.marlboroughhistorysociety.co.uk/prog.htm
Signed copies of Clare’s books will be on sale. You can find out more about Clare Mulley here.