Shirley Williams revisits her childhood haunts

BBC Radio 4’s latest series of “The House I Grew up In” (which revisits the childhood neighbourhoods of influential Britons) includes an episode featuring Liberal Democrat Peer, Shirley Williams.

Shirley Williams, now Baroness Williams, returns to her childhood homes in London’s Chelsea and the New Forest. Her mother was the writer, Vera Brittain, whose most famous novel – Testament of Youth – was a best-seller when Shirley was a child in the 1930s. Her father, George Catlin, was an academic and and an instinctive feminist whose own mother had been an early suffragette, ostracised by Victorian society. He was a frustrated politician who stood for parliament a number of times but was never elected. But these were not the only nurturing adults in her young life. Also hugely significant was her mother’s best friend, Winifred Holtby, and the housekeeper and her husband, Amy & Charlie Burnett – a bright, under-educated working class couple whom Shirley adored.

It’s a cracking listen – you can find it on BBC iPlayer here or visit the BBC Radio 4 website for more details of the series.

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One Comment

  • I loved this programme!
    Most amusing detail? As a small girl, Shirley Wiliams played with toy soldiers. She used them to stage elections (!!). A LibDem through and through – she just didn’t know it yet.

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