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FRY, Isabel (1869-1958)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0366 FY
Held at: Institute of Education
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Full title: FRY, Isabel (1869-1958)
Date(s): 1878-1958
Level of description: collection
Extent: 4 boxes
Name of creator(s): Fry | Isabel | 1869-1958 | educationist, social worker and reformer
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Isabel Fry (1869-1958) was an educationist, social worker and reformer. She was born in March 1869 into the famous reforming Quaker family, as the daughter of Sir Edward Fry (1827-1918), jurist, and Mariabella Hodgkin. She was one of nine children. Her siblings included Joan Mary Fry (1862-1955), a leading Quaker; Agnes Fry (1868-1957), author; (Sara) Margery Fry (1874-1958), penal reformer and Principal of Somerville College, Oxford; Roger Eliot Fry (1866-1934), artist and critic; and Anna Ruth Fry (1876-1962), pacifist and Quaker activist. In around 1885 Isabel attended school at Highfield and in 1891-1892 went to teach at Miss Lawrence's School in Brighton [later named Roedean] with Constance Crommelin [later Mrs John Masefield]. In around 1895 she moved to London with Constance and coached small groups of children in their own homes, including at Harley Street, and also at private schools in London, including at a school she founded in Marylebone Road. In 1908 Isabel Fry met the Turkish educational and social reformer Halidé Edib and visited Turkey for the first time. In 1912 she began to take deprived children to her summer cottage at Great Hampden, for holidays and teaching. Between 1913 and 1915 she held classes in Gayton Road, Hampstead and at other schools in London, in 1914 she paid her second visit to Turkey and in 1916 she worked as a welfare supervisor in a factory in the Midlands. In 1917 she founded The Farmhouse School, Mayortorne Manor, Wendover, Buckinghamshire, an experimental school in which training in farm and household duties were emphasised. It was here that she made a close personal friend of Eugénie Dubois, who taught French at the Farmhouse School. In 1930 she left Mayortorne Manor and worked in settlements for unemployed miners in Wales and Durham with her sister Joan, and in the Caldicot community in Maidstone, Kent. In 1934 she opened a new experimental school for deprived children and refugees at Church Farm, Buckland near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Isabel Fry died in 1958. She published three books, Uninitiated (Osgood, Mcilvaine & Co, London, 1895), The Day of Small Things (Unicorn, London, 1901) and A Key to Language: A Method of Grammatical Analysis by Means of Graphic Symbols (Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1925).


Scope and content/abstract:

The collection mainly consists of a set of Isabel Fry's personal diaries and notebooks dating from 1878-1958. These are supplemented by letters to her friend Eugénie Dubois, c1930-1958, and a few publications and photographs. The diaries reflect all aspects of her life and career including her teaching activities and educational ideas; her preoccupations with political and social affairs, including political reform and emancipation in the East and in Turkey and Persia; her friendships with liberal intellectuals; and her involvement with anti-militarist movements, slum clearance, socialism and feminism. Also included are details of her relationship with her family, friends and their wider social circle.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

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Conditions governing reproduction:

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Librarian or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Upon her death in 1958 Isabel Fry bequeathed her journals and books to Eugénie Dubois.

Immediate source of acquisition:

These papers were given to the Institute of Education in July 1983 by M. Eric Dubois of Linkebeek, Belgium, son of Eugénie Dubois.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Papers of her sister, Margery Fry, may be found at Birmingham University Library (papers as Warden of University House, Birmingham and general correspondence 1914-1917) and at the Bodleian Library (correspondence relating to the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning 1934-1951). Papers of her brother, Roger Eliot Fry, are widely dispersed, including at King's College Cambridge and Sussex University Library. Family correspondence of her father, Rt Hon Sir Edward Fry (1827-1918) may be found at Kings College, Cambridge and his diaries of prison visits, 1895-1901, are at the Modern Records Centre, Warwick University.

Publication note:

BC Brown (ed), Isabel Fry: Portrait of a Great Teacher (Arthur Barker, London, 1960); Agnes Fry, Memoir of the Right Honourable Sir Edward Fry (Oxford University Press, 1921); Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry (Hogarth Press, London, 1940); Ruth Fawell, Joan Mary Fry (Friends Home Service Committee, London, 1959).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 06/2/1999, modified 12/4/2000

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