Jacquetta and J.B. Priestley make many appearances in a new biography of their friend, Margaret Storm Jameson. Born in Whitby, Jameson (1891-1986) was an essayist, novelist, and campaigner for peace and social justice.
Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson, by Elizabeth Maslen, (Northwestern University Press) is based on research in many archives, including ours. Links with the Priestleys, and with our other collections, can be seen throughout the book: for instance Jameson joined J.B. Priestley’s 1941 Committee and championed writers as he did through PEN. The quotation above comes from a letter to Jacquetta, who persuaded her to join the CND Women’s Committee (Jameson agreed with the cause, but was cautious because she felt she might be of little use and had so many other calls on her time – earning money for her family etc.).
Maslen’s biography will prove an invaluable and impeccably researched resource for a fascinating writer and her literary and campaigning contemporaries.
Past, Present, Man, Nature: celebrating Jacquetta Hawkes.
An online exhibit by Alison Cullingford, Special Collections Librarian, University of Bradford.
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8. A Woman asks why
Jacquetta was active in many causes, especially the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which she was instrumental in founding along with Priestley. Her other activities included governor of the British Film Institute; her strong views on education led her to become a governor of two Stratford schools. Clearly a good organiser and persuasive advocate, Jacquetta was willing to work hard, to attend committees, and to use her extensive connections in the arts and government to help her causes. She makes an interesting contrast to Priestley, who loathed committees, and believed that he was far more useful writing about the causes he championed. He said he had had enough of marching in the Great War, but Jacquetta “went the whole distance for six successive Aldermastons”.
Her role in CND shows that she was not afraid to become involved with controversial campaigns; others included reform of the law on homosexuality, and family planning. When she examined her motives for becoming involved with these causes, in articles entitled “Heart, head and charity” and “Why do I bother”, she cited the example of her mother who worked for child welfare, her anti-authoritarian inclinations from childhood, and her lifelong willingness to fight for her sense of fairness.
Women ask why
Jacquetta’s views on the Bomb in the late 1950s were consistent with the ideas she was expressing elsewhere, that over the span of a “million, million years”, society could change, that civilisation was fragile, that women as nurturers had a particular part to play in ending the madness of the cerebrum gone wild. As she said in this CND booklet, “Women ask why” (1962), “I do not like to think of women apart from men. But in this one thing it is different … Men have got beyond killing one another and are preparing to kill us and our children. Women are slow to change. It might be that we should still all be peasants if it were not for masculine genius. But now that genius is running mad, and we have to come to the rescue”.