To Vera Seal

veratypesA Critical Woman is dedicated to Vera Seal, who joined one of Barbara Wootton’s evening classes in economics in 1942, later worked with her as a research assistant, and became her life-long friend and helper and carer of Barbara’s literary estate after her death.  Ann Oakley and Vera Seal had many meetings and exchanged many letters during the writing of A Critical Woman.

In the photograph Vera is shown with the typewriter bought in 1952 (and still in good working order) for Barbara Wootton's project Social Science and Social Pathology. Vera died aged 95 in December 2011.


Here is an extract from one of Vera’s letters to Ann:

Dear Ann,

Oh! What a wonderful chapter! Thank you. I loved the bits about the Webbs and chamber pots and h.w. bottles! And Ethel Mannin and your comment - complaining about the writing of books about Russia “and then wrote another”. Lovely. This chapter is notable for marking BW’s slide from economist to a “scientist of social studies” (or the beginning of it). I’m inclined to think that this is the most interesting chapter so far. But then I realise how difficult it is for me to disentangle how much my interest is due to your cleverness in describing the era and the part it played in BW’s life. So much of the chapter is new to me and so interesting. Yes, it was an era in which I, too, lived but in 1934 a very immature 18 year-old, interested in nothing if it didn’t either float on water or grow in soil. And later one was falling in and out of love, as well as devouring everything BW suggested. ….If I still had my copy of Plan or No Plan I would have been able to check your quotations for you….Sometimes I wonder, what subject would I have chosen to work for a degree in, given the opportunity. Perhaps English or something to do with language. BW and I did discuss often the English language and I took all my queries to her. I much liked her use of English….much love,