Testimony to Love

Gwen Steele-Perkins

Testimony to Love. Friends of Sir Robert Hart. The Authors. Excerpts. Plaudits. To Order. Links.
Testimony to Love is the memoir of Gwen, born in China in 1893 to a professional family with nine children, of whom she was the seventh. Such families enjoyed a good income while the breadwinner was alive and in work, but her father died in 1902 aged 51, before he had been able to provide fully for his wife and children. They returned to Britain, and a bachelor brother of her mother helped them out, as related in Friends of Sir Robert Hart. Gwen was given a good education to the age of 18, but took no qualifications, because stressful exams were unnecessary for women destined to be obedient wives.
When war broke out in 1914 Gwen trained to become a volunteer nurse and was posted to Exeter Hospital where she lodged with the Doctor in charge. She married his youngest son, Horace Steele-Perkins, a naval Purser (administrative officer), in February 1916, still in total ignorance about sex or childbirth. Horace soon evoked an enduring and passionate love. Their son John was born in December the same year. Their two daughters, Mary and Susan, did not follow till 1931 and 1934.
Gwen wrote Parts II and III of her memoir soon after the events described, in 1931 and 1935 respectively. She added Part I, on her earlier life, in the 1950s. Later that decade she added Part IV on her life after 1935. This is summarised by her daughter Mary Tiffen, except for some key reflections Gwen made on her own life, which are in her own words. She had lived through two world wars, many scientific advances in which she took great interest, and changes in the status of women in which she had shared. She died in 1981.
Gwen made many efforts to get her account of her 1930 Vision and its tragic after-event in 1935 published, but the time was not ripe.  Now that all concerned are long dead her daughter Mary Tiffen has brought it out and provided some explanatory material. Mary can be contacted at marytiffen@gmail.com.

The Complete Family, at the Baptism of Susan, Easter 1934. John is Back Middle