Records of Winifred Horrabin



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Winifred Horrabin was born in 1887, the daughter of Arthur John Batho and Lilian Outram. Her father died when she was a child. She came from a nonconformist (congregational) background in Sheffield and attended the Sheffield School of Art where she met her husband, Francis (Frank) James Horrabin, whom she married in 1911. Frank Horrabin gained employment on the Sheffield Telegraph and went on to become a political cartoonist of considerable note with several newspapers. He and Winifred Horrabin shared socialist political principles. They were friendly with H G Wells and Frank Horrabin illustrated Wells's Outline of History, which appeared in 1920. Winifred Horrabin spent the early years of her marriage working on a number of writing projects, the most significant being her book on the socialist historian, Olive Schreiner, whose nonconformist background (Quaker) had been similar to her own (Dictionary of National Biography).

Winifred Horrabin was involved with her husband in the Labour Colleges Movement and he was the first editor of The Plebs, the journal of the National Council of Labour Colleges, and her diaries and letters have information about this work. Frank Horrabin served during the first world war and after the war he was briefly Labour MP for Peterborough and became involved in anti-imperialist politics, collaborating with Rita Hinden and Arthur Creech Jones in creating the Fabian Colonial Bureau. In 1942 Frank Horrabin left Winifred Horrabin and there are letters and notes about their separation in the collection. He remarried in 1948 and died in 1962. Winifred Horrabin's papers continue after their separation and are most valuable for her literary works. She died in 1971 (Dictionary of National Biography).


The papers of Winifred Horrabin comprise diaries, journals and notebooks (1922-1965); literary manuscripts and typescripts (1913-1960s); correspondence (1907-1967); press cuttings (1926-1963); photographs (late 19th century-1960); miscellaneous (1882-1965).

An attempt has been made to classify the items in U DWH/1. The diaries are basically day-to-day accounts (sometimes indicated 'Notes only', very brief) of events. The journals contain accounts, often irregular, of events or journeys, interspersed with comment, literary notes, observations and self - analytical jottings. The notebooks contain notes and jottings intended for extension or use at a later date in written work, or relating to personal affairs. The diaries in the collection number 31 and are day to day accounts of Winifred Horrabin's life 1922-1955 and, in addition, there are 13 journals of trips abroad 1926-1953. These include trips to Russia and Poland. The journal for 1949 includes a memoir of H G Wells. The collection also includes 30 notebooks and these have wide coverage. There are several made during her research into Olive Schreiner in the 1930s though she also made notes on another historian, Thomas Carlyle. There are notes on political events both at home and abroad, and these include notes on English elections and the Spanish civil war. There are notes made for her autobiographical novel, Death of a woman, as well as notes about her husband, Francis (Frank) James Horrabin.

The literary manuscripts and typescripts in the collection include her short stories and these are sometimes autobiographical, such as 'Grandpa Batho', and they sometimes reflect her left-wing politics, such as 'A Polish Tolpuddle: Vladimir Volynsk'. Feminist essays include 'My early feminism' and 'Introduction to the life of Mary Wollstonecraft and the rights of women'. There is also her work on Olive Schreiner, historian of the London School of Economics and author of Women and Labour (1911). One folder includes Rita Hinden's 'Homage to a Socialist', which is about Frank Horrabin.

The correspondence in the collection includes family letters, including letters from Winifred Horrabin's mother, Lilian Batho nee Outram, and letters of Harold Batho about his first world war experiences sent to his sister, Winifred Horrabin. There are letters of Winifred Horrabin to Frank Horrabin including some sent during the first world war and drafts of letters about their separation 1942-1943. Letters from friends include one from H G Wells dated September 1942 about her separation from Frank Horrabin, one from Vera Brittain dated 1935 about the death of Winifred Holtby and one of William Mellor dated 1938. There are almost 200 letters of Frank Horrabin, the bulk of them written to Winifred Horrabin during the first world war and 6 of them about their separation. There are also several letters of Winifred Horrabin to personal friends about her marital problems.

Press cuttings in the collection include cuttings of Winifred Horrabin's articles and letters. Photographs include family photographs and photographs of a bust of Winifred Horrabin done by Oscar Nemon in the early 1940s. Miscellaneous items include the marriage certificate of Lilian Outram and Arthur John Batho (1882), sermons and obituary material for Arthur John Batho (1891), theatre programmes, party invitations and obituaries of Maurice Newfield (1949).