Sunday, September 19, 2010

Notable Sussex Women

Let's take a break from the proceedings of the third trial pitting plaintiff Valerie Wiedemann against defendant Robert Horace Walpole and consider something else.

In her book, Notable Sussex Women, author Helena Wojtczak has written biographical sketches of 580 women of Sussex from Annie Abram to Nellie Sheail. As a tease, women within are also listed anonymously by accomplishment: "a woman with terrapins in her bra," "the wealthiest prostitute in London," and "Siamese twin entertainers," for example.

Included among these notable women is our Lady Dorothy Mills [née Walpole], daughter of Walpole and Louise Melissa Corbin. I'm uncertain how her accomplishments might have been described in the book's tease, however.

Is she "the white woman who led a protest march of 20,000 black Africans"? If she is, I'm unaware of that event, although Lady Dorothy certainly spent a great deal of time in Africa living among its native people.

Was she one of the "writers of books deemed 'obscene' and 'grossly immoral'"? I know that not every reader was in favor of her adventuring among the savages and even prompting marriage proposals from many.

Could Lady Dorothy's travels in the East have made her the "the titled lady who bred silkworms," a prize she may have returned with after one of her excursions?

With 580 biographical sketches in a 366 page volume, many of the sketches are bound to be exceptionally brief. There are 189 illustrations and 63 glossy photographs. Is there an image of Lady Dorothy Millls? And would it be an image of the young, globe-trotting Lady Dorothy, or of the aging Lady Dorothy who lived away from the public eye in Brighton from the publication of her last book 1931 until her death in 1959?

If you own the book or have borrowed it from a library and can summarize her biographical sketch, or if you own it and can e-mail me a scan of any information on Lady Dorothy Mills [pictured, right] it contains for the purposes of my research, I would be most grateful. Having already spent a couple of hundred of dollars on this strange quest of mine—most of it on shipping from the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand—I hesitate to tell my financial advisor [read: my wife, Janet] that I plan on spending well over £20 (with shipping) to catch a glimpse of a paragraph or two in a book that may or may not be of any use to me at all!

Please e-mail me at will19008 [at] if you can help, and thank you in advance for your consideration!

1 comment:

  1. The local library only has 2 copies of the book: One is a reference copy, which couldn't be found till much later after a staff shift change; it was being used downstairs in a promotion for the upstairs Reference Library. The lending copy has been stolen so scanning not poss. [My camera was not up to spec. in the library lighting.] Anyway no photos (glossy or otherwise) of Lady Dot. Most entries like hers merit about a quarter of a page. OK? Barry Mc.