The archive consists of diaries, correspondence, photographs and memorabilia relating to Holme's activities as a suffragette; her work with the Women's Volunteer Reserve and the Scottish Women's Hospital Unit during the First World War; her visits to and relief work in Serbia / Yugoslavia; and her personal life and friendships. Many items across the collection relate to her girlfriend Evelina Haverfield.
Any original order to the papers has been lost. The papers have therefore been arranged broadly chronologically, based around key activities in Holme's life. The photographs have been placed together in one series, in largely chronological order.
Holme, Vera Louise, 1881-1969, actress and suffragist
4 A boxes; 3 Albums; 1 OS folder
This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.
Immediate source of acquisition:
Donated by the family: Mrs Woodbridge in 1973 and John Holme in 2006.
The archive consists of two accessions. The first was donated by her niece Mrs Woodbridge on 21 Nov 1973; the second by her great-nephew John Holme on 29 Jun 2006. The papers were recovered after the death of Vera Holme from her house in Scotland.
Haverfield, née Scarlett, Evelina, 1867-1920, suffragette and aid worker
Administrative / biographical background:
Vera Louise Holme (1881-1969) was born in Lancashire in 1881, the daughter of Richard Holme, a timber merchant, and his wife Mary Louisa Crowe. Holme was sent away from home as a young girl to be educated at a convent school in Belgium. As a young woman she was based in London, and began performing with touring acting companies, often as a male impersonator. She adopted a masculine style of dress, short hair and took on the nickname Jack or Jacko. She became a member of the D'Olyly Carte Opera company around 1906, performing in productions of Gilbert & Sullivan at the Savoy Opera House. By 1908 she was a member of the Actresses' Franchise League. She joined the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) in 1908 and was active in suffrage propaganda work such as greeting released prisoners from Holloway Prison in Mar 1909; working as a mounted marshal at a demonstration in Jun 1909 and acting the role of 'Hannah Snell' in Cicely Hamilton's 'Pageant of Great Women' in 1909. She was close to the centre of WSPU activity and social circles, staying with the Blathwayt family at Eagle's House in 1909, becoming the chauffeur for the Pankhursts and Pethick-Lawrences, and was a member of the 'Young Hot Bloods' group alongside Jessie Kenney and Elsie Howie. She was imprisoned in Holloway Prison in 1911 for stone-throwing. From 1914-1920 she was an acting member of the Pioneer Players.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Holme joined the Women's Volunteer Reserve, and then enlisted in the transport unit of the Scottish Women's Hospital, based in Serbia and Russia, where she was responsible for horses and trucks. In Oct 1917 she delivered a report on the situation of the Serbian army on the Romanian Front to Lord Robert Cecil of the Foreign Office. She spent the remainder of the war giving lecture tours to publicise the work of the Scottish Women's Hospital Unit. In 1918 she became the administrator of the Haverfield Fund for Serbian Children - an orphanage set up by Evelina Haverfield, her companion from 1911 until her death in 1920. She continued to be involved in relief work for Serbia in various capacities throughout the 1920s -1930s, and remained interested in political issues in Yugoslavia throughout her life, returning to visit in 1934. She subsequently moved to Scotland where she lived with Margaret Greenless and Margaret Ker, friends from her suffrage days and also previously of the Scottish Women's Hospitals Unit. She became involved in the artistic scene centred around Kirkcudbright, led by Jessie M King. She was a lifelong friend of Edith Craig, participating in performances staged in the Barn Theatre, Kent. She was close to her brother Richard (known as Dick or Gordon) Holme throughout her life, and her niece and nephew were named Vera and Jack after her. She was also active in the Women's Rural Institute from the early 1920s until her death in Scotland in 1969.