Grenfell, Joyce, 1910-1979

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Epithet: née Phipps, actress and entertainer

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000560.0x000227

Joyce Grenfell. Joyce Irene Grenfell (nee Phipps) was born in London on 10 February 1910, the elder child and only daughter of Paul Phipps, an architect and a fellow of RIBA, and his wife Nora Langhorne, from Virginia, USA, who was the sister of Nancy (later Viscountess) Astor, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons. She was educated at Francis Holland School, London, (1917-1924) and the Christian Science School, Clear View in South Norwood (1924-1927) before attending a 'finishing school' in Paris in 1927 followed by classes at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Joyce Phipps married Reginald Pascoe Grenfell, a chartered accountant, in 1929. They had no children. He died in 1993. After a meeting with J. L. Garvin, editor of the Observer, Joyce Grenfell became the radio critic for that paper, writing a weekly column from 1936 to 1939. She made her stage debut in Herbert Farjeon's The Little Revue in 1939 delivering a comic monologue based on a talk she had heard at a Women's Institute meeting called 'Useful and Acceptable Gifts'. She had an instantaneous success and appeared in two further Farjeon reviews, Diversion (1940 and 1941), and Light and Shade (1942). In 1942 she undertook a UK tour for the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) before embarking on ENSA tours to India and the Middle East in 1944 and 1945. She appeared in further reviews until the early 1950s, and a variety of films over the years including The Happiest Days of Your Life (1949), Genevieve (1953), The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964), and the St.Trinian's series (1954-1960). In 1954 she began appearing in a series of one-woman shows, the first being Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure, with which she later toured the world. Joyce Grenfell retired from the stage in 1973, but she continued to appear on television in the musical quiz programme, Face the Music, from 1971 until 1975. Joyce Grenfell was committed to projects unconnected with show business. In 1957 she became president of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists; from 1960 to 1962 she served on the committee concerned with the 'future of the broadcasting services of the UK', chaired by Sir W. H. Pilkington; in 1968 she became the first Honorary Fellow appointed by Lucy Cavendish Collegiate Society; in 1972 she was appointed a member of the council of the Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship Trust, the grants from which enable students to go overseas to study their special subjects. A lifelong Christian Scientist, she was deeply interested in metaphysics. During her partial retirement from public life she wrote her autobiography in two volumes, Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure (1976), and In Pleasant Places (1979). She died in London on 30 November 1979. Joyce Grenfell first met Virginia Graham in the summer of 1917 when they were seven and six respectively. They were inseparable friends until Joyce's death. Virginia Graham. Virginia Graham was born in London on 1 November 1910, the daughter of Captain Jocelyn Henry Clive Graham, a playwright and lyricist, and Dorothy Villiers. She was educated at Notting Hill High School and in 1927 attended a finishing school in Paris with Joyce Grenfell. In 1939 Virginia Graham married Tony Thesiger, a tea plantation manager and later Director of Wallace Brothers, a merchant trading company owned by his mother's family. They had no children. He died in 1969. Virginia joined the Women's Voluntary Service in 1940, leaving in 1946 to resume a journalistic career, which had begun with contributions to Punch. She was a film critic for the Spectator from 1946 until 1956. In 1948 she became a drama critic for the Sunday Chronicle, and a film and book critic for the Evening Standard in 1952, and finally a columnist for Homes & Garden from 1953 until 1982. Virginia Graham also wrote poetry, many of which were first published in Punch, and an anthology, Consider the Years 1938-1946, was published in 1946. Other publications include The Story of the WVS (1960), A Book on Casino Gambling (1978), and A selection of metaphysical poets (1996), and several novels translated from the French. Virginia Graham died in 1993. Katharine Moore. Una Katharine Moore (née Yeo) was born on 25 April 1898. The family home was in Reigate, Surrey, from where her father commuted to London to his work in insurance. She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School and went on to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (1918-1921), where she read English. For a short interlude after leaving Oxford, she worked in the Lady Margaret Hall settlement in Lambeth. In 1922 she married Dr. Harold Moore, a widower with three young girls, and 20 years her senior. In 1925 Katharine gave birth to twins, Jane and Christopher. Harold Moore later became the first president of the Institution of Metallurgists. He died in 1972. In 1943 Katharine Moore took up a part-time post as an English teacher at Walthamstow Hall School for Girls in Sevenoaks, Kent, and later became full-time. Katharine Moore's publishing career began in 1936 with the publication of Moog, a children's book she wrote for her twins and which is illustrated by Jane Moore. This was followed by a series of educational books for children. Her first published adult work was an anthology, The Spirit of Tolerance (1964). The titles and subjects of her non-fiction books reflect her preoccupation with women's need for independence and her religious development - Cordial Relations:The Maiden Aunt in Fact and Fiction (1966); Victorian Wives (1974); and She for God: Aspects of Women and Christianity (1978). She published her first novel, Summer at the Haven (1983), at the age of 85 and received the Authors' Club Silver Quill Award for the most promising first novel of 1984. This was followed by two further novels, The Lotus House (1984) and Moving House (1986). She also published two memoirs ' Queen Victoria is Very Ill (1988), and A family life 1939-1945: a journal (1989), a collection of short stories, Six Gentle Giants (1990), and a fictional biography, Particular Glory: Some Chronicles of the Perronet Family in Eighteenth-Century Shoreham. In 1957 Katharine Moore began a 22-year pen friendship with Joyce Grenfell which ended only with Joyce's death in 1979. They agreed never to meet in order to express themselves with greater freedom in their writing. Katharine Moore died on 18 November 2001.

From the guide to the Papers of Joyce Grenfell and Virginia Graham, 1927-1997, (University of Cambridge, Lucy Cavendish College)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf A. W. RUSSELL AND RUTH PITTER CORRESPONDENCE. Vol. III (ff. 183). Correspondence of A. W. Russell; 1967-1969, n.d. The names of the writers and recipients are given in the index to the present catalogue.includes:ff. 1-11 John Leslie Thomas Arlott, wr..., 1967-1969 British Library
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
referencedIn Papers of J.S.Shields, 1960 University of Southampton Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Papers of Joyce Grenfell and Virginia Graham, 1927-1997 University of Cambridge, Lucy Cavendish College
creatorOf LETTERS TO MIRIAM LORD AND A. S. LYNCH, chiefly in connection with the Margaret McMillan Memorial Fund and Community Centre; 1945-1972, n.d. Preceded by letters of Margaret and Rachel McMillan; 1907-1927. Purchased at Sotheby’s, February 2000. ff. 49..., 1907-1972 British Library
creatorOf Papers of Joyce Grenfell and Virginia Graham, 1927-1997 University of Cambridge, Lucy Cavendish College
creatorOf Vol. lx b (ff. 164). 1 Apr. -31 Dec. 1952.Augustus Dudley Peters, literary agent: Mary Herring, secretary to Sir T M Rattigan: Rattigan Productions: Correspondence, including enclosures, of A. D. Peters, and other members of his staff, with Sir T. M... British Library
creatorOf Vol. lxxxiv a (ff. 191). 23 Jan 1953 -31 Dec. 1953.Harold Freedman, literary agent: Brandt and Brandt Dramatic Department, Inc: Correspondence, including telegrams, of H. Freedman, President of Brandt & Brandt Dramatic Department, Inc. and other mem... British Library
referencedIn Crump, Mary Alletta, 1887-1970. Papers 1916-1970. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Correspondence concerning the Arts Council of Great Britain and the National Federation of Music Societies (administering funds provided by the Arts Council); 1947-55. With draft returns of projected concert expenditure and income for some years.ff. ..., 1947-1955 British Library
creatorOf Alan Fluck collection. Correspondence. Garrick-Musgrave, 1962-1993 British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith Crump, Mary Alletta, 1887-1970. person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Graham, Virginia., 1910-1993 person
associatedWith Grenfell | Joyce Irene | 1910-1979 person
associatedWith Grenfell, Reggie., d 1993 person
associatedWith Hart-Davis, Lady -., fl 1966 person
associatedWith Hart-Davis, Rupert. Sir, 1907-1999 person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Moore, Katharine Una., 1898-2001 person
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Women journalists
Women authors


Birth 1910-02-10

Death 1979-11-30



Ark ID: w6xt3g63

SNAC ID: 52149112