Saturday, August 28, 2010

SATURDAY FOCUS: REMARKABLE WOMEN (2) Clare Mulley introduces Eglantyne Jebb

Mabel Kaplan
Isn't serendipity wonderful?
...I visited my local library yesterday, and the first thing I noticed was the poster by the 'in' desk: UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Child Friendly Language. I looked at the credits and found the poster to be a collaborative Childrens Week Project between the Community Development Office for Children and Youth, Meerilinga Young Children's Foundation Inc and the United Nations Association WA Branch with acknowledgement to UNICEF for permitting the reproduction of their original text and poster design.
...It opened a lovely conversation between me and the librarians on duty. I thought Eglantyne and Clare would be pleased!

Hello Clare!
I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to getting to know more about Eglantyne Jebb and the journey it's taken for you to uncover her story. Welcome!

Clare Mulley
Thank you, Mabel! I am delighted to be invited to talk about my new book, The Woman Who Saved the Children: A Biography of Eglantyne Jebb, Founder of Save the Children on your site, just as it is published in paperback in Australia.

Eglantyne's is a wonderful story. She set up Save the Children in 1919, at the end of the First World War, to bring relief to the starving children of Austria and Germany - a courageous and controversial aim at that time, and she was arrested in London’s Trafalgar Square for leafleting and chalking up the pavements, among other adventures, in an effort to get her message across. Later she wrote the pioneering statement of children's human rights that has since evolved into the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; the most universally accepted human rights instrument in history.

One of the things I loved about her is that although she dedicated her life to promoting children's welfare and rights, she was not fond of children herself, once calling them 'the little wretches' and in 1919 claiming that 'I suppose it is a judgment on me for not caring about children that I am made to talk, all day long, about the universal love of humanity towards them'. Eglantyne was not an overtly sentimental or maternal woman, but she was inspired by a burning humanitarian compassion that helped to bring many back to reason after the horror of the war, saving the lives of many thousands of children immediately and many millions around the world since, and permanently changing the way the world regards and treats children.

Full of humour and tragedy, passion and pain, Eglantyne’s story takes her from illicit romance in Cambridge to espionage in Serbia, from private spiritualism to public arrest, and from chasing the Pope round the Vatican and being feted by the royals of Europe, and winning the support of both the fledgling League of Nations and Bolshevik government. And yet it is a story that has not been told for more than forty years.

I was working at Save the Children when I stumbled across some of her private letters in the Fund’s London archive, stuffed down a plastic crate, and could not believe how funny and controversial she sounded even today. It has been a fantastic experience getting to know this woman, and discovering that her story still holds huge resonance in today's world, as a powerful testament to the humanitarian spirit in recognizing the complexity and humanity of all people.

Clare Mulley’s award winning biography The Woman Who Saved the Children: A Biography of Eglantyne Jebb is published in paperback by Oneworld Publications, 2010.

All author royalties are being donated to Save the Children.

Saturday 4 September, 2010: Book Review by Mabel Kaplan

Saturday 11 September, 2010: The Research Process – An Interview with Clare Mulley

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Mabel Kaplan
When Clare Mulley and I were introduced over cyberspace by Catriona Hoy recently, little did I realise how that the meeting would take me on a new kind of blog journey - a journey into the worlds of three remarkable women whose lives and accomplishments are relatively unknown. Yet each of these lives touch on children caught up in the horror of civil conflict and war, poverty and disease.

Who are these women?
Eglantine Jebb (1876-1928),
Joice Nankivell Loch (1887-1982)
Pamela Ateka (1976-)

Clare Mulley
Over the next three Saturdays I will be exploring with author Clare Mulley, the life and times of Eglantyne Jebb. I have chosen Saturday because Eglantyne, born on Saturday, 26 August 1876 and (in accord with the old rhyme) true to the day her birth day, she 'worked hard for a living'.

Saturday 28 August, 2010: Clare Mulley introduces Eglantyne Jebb
Saturday 4 September, 2010: Book Review by Mabel Kaplan
Saturday 11 September, 2010: The Research Process – An Interview with Clare Mulley
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay