The Historical Birthday-Tea Party March 11th


Una Troubridge
Una Troubridge painted by Romaine Brooks

No particular birthday today, so going back to that 8th March that was choc-a-bloc, lets share cake with Una Troubridge 8 March 1887 – 24 September 1963.

At the tender age of ten Una lost her heart to a

splendaciously ample and properly upholstered principal boy… whose sex was never for a moment ambiguous … I sat in silent worship before the well filled silken tights … the dominant gait … the clustering curls … of this peerless wonder.

Una passed the entrance exam for art college at the age of 13 and was an accomplished sculptor. She married Admiral Troubridge and they had a daughter Andrea, who lived with Una when not at boarding school after their (acrimonious) separation.

Una met Radclyffe Hall (known as John, but more on her later) in 1915 while Una’s cousin  Mabel Batten (aka Ladye) was John’s lover.  Mabel died the following year, and Una and John moved in a year later.Una described her relationship with John as the first time she had known sexual rapture.

The couple had a wide circle of lesbian friends and thought that it was their duty to be visible, have no time for closeted lesbians (or gay men) who were financially independent and answerable to no one.

They had a lot of fun, partying with their friends, showing daschunds at Crufts and so on. On one occasion during a bicycling craze, John bought Una a bicycle which was christened Clara. Una insisted on a ‘loud and aggressive’ bell which she rang a great deal until John asked her to spare the neighbours.

Neither of them could be described as feminists, and Una saw her role as to make it as easy as possible for John to write, although she also wrote herself.  She took on everything to do with the house, including supervising, with every sign of enjoyment, drainage works on their house in Rye, for which she dressed in a boiler suit.

They lived together until John died, in her arms, in 1943.

Una of John:

I could not, having come to know her, imagine life without her.

Una had John’s suits altered after her death and wore them herself.

Una died in 1963 in Rome, she had wanted to be buried with John and Mabel in Highgate cemetery but her instructions were not found until too late.

her tombstone describes her as

The friend of Radclyffe Hall

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Author: Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a published fiction writer, publisher, event organiser, photographer, cardmaker, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She is an enthusiastic singer. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.

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