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Elsie Edith Bowerman


Elsie Edith Bowerman was born in 1889 in Tunbridge Wells, the daughter of Edith Barber and William Bowerman. Elsie studied at Wycombe Abbey School before reading mediaeval and modern languages at Girton College, Cambridge at the age of 19. In 1909, together with her mother, Elsie joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (the most militant of the groups campaigning for women’s suffrage), and remained active in the suffrage movement, eventually acting as Election Agent for Christabel Pankhurst in the 1918 General Election. In 1912, Elsie and her mother Edith survived the sinking of the Titanic. Nevertheless, she was not deterred from travel and later worked as an orderly in the London Unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Eastern Europe, and was in St Petersburg in 1917, experiencing first- hand the Russian Revolution. At the age of 31, Elsie was admitted to Middle Temple as a student and was called to the Bar three years later, in 1924. She co-founded the Women’s Voluntary Services during the Second World War and served for nearly four years as a liaison officer for the Overseas Services of the BBC. In the years following the war, Elsie went to the USA and helped to establish the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (a commission dedicated to ensuring women’s equality and to promoting women’s rights). She died in 1973 in Hailsham, England, at the age of 83.

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