Sophie Green:

Local celebrity and educational pioneer

By David Wilson

Sophie Green died in 1956, but some people in the area still remember her.  In her day, her work with the Cooperative movement, trade unions and above all the WEA, gave her local and national reputation.

Born in 1877 her family were from Titchmarsh (Northamptonshire) and were among the many attracted to Kettering as its industry expanded.  Sophie Green lived in Cobden Street, later moving to St.Peters Avenue. She began work as a machinist in the Kettering Clothing Cooperative factory and then became active with the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) as a student.

In 1919 she was appointed as Tutor Organiser for a special WEA scheme, in which role she carried out pioneering work with women in rural areas until 1939.  She was also on the Board of Education and Poor Law Guardians.  When she retired, the famous social thinker and historian of the WEA, R.H.Tawney, said:

“It was Sophie Green, more than any other single person who laid the foundations on which the WEA’s later achievements in the area have been built.  The establishment of new branches of classes: the extension of its influence in rural districts; the development of its work among women; the close and cordial relations between it and the Cooperative and trade union movements- every side in short of the Association’s activities bears the mark of her energy and wisdom.”

When reporting her death, the local paper said that she was generally known as “Our Sophie”

I am trying to discover more about this remarkable woman with a view to publishing a research paper and I would be pleased to speak to anyone who can add to what I have been able to discover.  In particular, I would like to find out where in Grange Street the adult school, in which she also taught, was.  I know that there are some who still remember her and any scrap of information to add to documentary evidence would be very welcome.  I would also be pleased to hear from anyone who knows about her friend, Helen Stocks, of Oxford University. 

This page was added by David Wilson on 01/05/2013.
Comments about this page

Sadly though Sophie's grave plot num ber is  recorded ther is no grave stone.

By David Wilson
On 08/01/2014

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MLA Department for Education and Skills DCMS Learn with museums Kettering Borough Council