‘The Tortoise.. and the Hare?’

This afternoon’s cataloguing involved an exciting late-afternoon – a letter from Winifred Holtby, journalist and author. I’m currently enjoying reading her novel South Riding about a fictional rural community in Yorkshire.  The main characters include some strong females such as Sarah Burton, the idealistic young Headteacher of the local school, and Mrs Beddows, the sole female voice on the local County Council.  This novel discusses so many of the issues which have come up in my cataloguing of the NUWT archive – the marriage bar, inequalities in status and pay of women teachers, feminism, social justice, rural education, the list goes on – needless to say I’m really enjoying this book and will definitely be going on to find out more about the author.

So far I know that she was a lifelong friend of Vera Brittain, that she was involved in the Six Point Group and the League of Nations Union, and now I know she was also a friend and supporter of the NUWT.

©Institute of Education Archives

Dear Miss Froud,
I send you this Speakers Bell with gratitude and affection for all the fine work of the NUWT.
The Tortoise, symbolic of the NUT, speaks for itself.
Yours ever, Winifred Holtby

In her reply Ethel Froud refers to it as a Chairman’s Bell so I assume it would be used to announce each speaker at a meeting. I’m not sure what the Tortoise is in reference to, maybe there was an inscription or drawing on the bell or maybe the design of the bell itself – the correspondence itself shows that maybe the meaning was quite illusive. Ethel Froud writes ‘whilst agreeing that the tortoise is indeed symbolic of the NUT, we will bear in mind the fable of the hare and the tortoise and will hope that this aspect was far from your mind when you chose the design’.  Very intriguing!  I wonder what happened to the bell?


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