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CANNON, Elsie May

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 7EMC
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: CANNON, Elsie May
Date(s): 1958-1994
Level of description: fonds
Extent: 0.25 A box
Name of creator(s): Cannon | Elsie May | fl 1940-1970 | journalist and publisher
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Elsie May Cannon worked at the magazine Good Housekeeping and in a book publishing department in the 1940s-1970s. Her aunt was the barrister Helena Normanton (1882-1957).

Helena Florence Normanton (1882-1957) was born on 14 Dec 1882 to Jane Amelia and William Alexander Normanton in Kensington. In 1886 the family moved to Brighton. From 1900 Helena attended York Place Secondary School, Brighton (later renamed Margaret Hardy School, forerunner of Varndean School for Girls). From 1903-1905 she attended teacher training at Edge College, Liverpool. In 1907 Helena obtained a diploma in French language, literature and history from Dijon University. In 1912 she achieved her BA Hon First Class in History (London University). From 1913 -1915 she was a senior mistress for History at Glasgow High School for Girls and lecturer to postgraduate students of Glasgow University in Principles and methods of teaching history and then a University Extension lecturer to the University of London. From 1918-1920 she edited 'India' a political weekly. On 24 Dec 1919 Helena was admitted as a student at the Middle Temple, the day after the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act received Royal Assent. On 26 Oct 1921 she married Gavin Bowman Watson Clark (d 1948). On 17 Nov 1922 Helena was called to the Bar, a few months after Ivy Williams had become the first woman to do so (but she did not practise). In 1922 Helena was the first woman to be briefed at High Court (successful divorce petition). In 1924 she was the first woman to be briefed at Old Bailey. Also in that year she was the first married British woman to be issued a passport in her maiden name ('as legal and only name'). In 1926 she was first woman to be briefed at the North London Sessions. In 1948 she was the first woman to prosecute in a murder trial (young soldier found guilty of murdering his wife) in the North-Eastern Circuit. In Apr 1949 she was the first woman KC (with Rose Heilbron).

In 1952 Helena drew up a memorandum of evidence as President of the Married Women's Association for consideration by the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce (criticism led to her resignation, withdrawing the memorandum and forming the Council of Married Women and submitting a revised memorandum to the Royal Commission). In 1956 Helena was the first recorded donor to the fund to create a new university in Sussex. Helena died in Oct 1957 and was buried at Ovingdean churchyard, Brighton.

Positions held : Treasurer and Secretary of the Old Bailey Bar Mess; Honorary member of the New York Women's Bar Association and of the women lawyers' association, Kappa Beta Pi (USA); Principal elected officer for Europe of the International Legal Sorority Other interests : wrote extensively for Good Housekeeping magazine and other publications eg 'The Queen', 'Quiver'; Associate Grand Dame for Europe of the International Society of Women Lawyers; Chair of the International legislative sub-committee of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women; Executive member of the National Council for Equal Citizenship; Executive member of the State Children's Association; First Secretary of the National Women's Citizens' Association; Founder and Honorary Secretary to the Magna Carta Society; Founding member of the Horatian Society


Scope and content/abstract:

The archive consists of letters to Elsie Cannon concerning placement of items which belonged to her aunt, Helena Normanton.

Papers and publications relating to the Women's Press Club of London 1945-1988 were removed and can be consulted at 5WPC.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

The Women's Library Catalogue

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The collection was deposited by EM Cannon in 1997 as an outright gift.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Women's Library also holds the papers of the Women's Press Club (5WPC ) and the Papers of Helena Normanton (7HLN).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Finding aid created by export from CALM v7.2.14 Archives Hub EAD2002. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
In compliance with ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description - 2nd Edition (1999); UNESCO Thesaurus, December 2001; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:

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