Queer Places:
Iden, Woodcote Valley Rd, Purley CR8, UK
Kensal Green Cemetery Kensal Green, London Borough of Brent, Greater London, England

Olive Christian Malvery (October 1, 1871 – October 29, 1914) was an Anglo-Indian journalist, best known for her investigations into the working conditions of women and children in London.[1]

Malvery was born in Lahore, in the Punjab, in 1871[2][3] from parents of European and Indian ancestry, to Thomas Barber Malvery and Jessie Anderson. Her father, Thomas Malvery, died aged 61 from 'excessive drinking.' He was buried in Sewee, Bombay in 3 January 1896. In 1903 her mother, Jessie Malvery, remarried at Simla to Benjamin George Faulkner Simmonds. Following her father's death, she and her brother were raised as Anglican in India by her maternal grandparents. Both siblings were well-educated.[4] She moved to London in 1898 to train as a professional singer at The Royal College of Music.[4] To support herself during this time she gave elocution lessons, wrote fiction for periodicals and gave drawing-room performances about Indian legends.[4][1] In May 1898 she was introduced by Lady Henry Somerset, among other representative of the different National Women's Christian Temperance Unions, as part of celebrations of the National British Women's Temperance Association’s twenty-third anniversary in London.

In 1904, she was commissioned to write a seven part series of articles for Pearson's Magazine.[4] For this she explored women's work in various trades by disguising herself as a street singer, street peddler, factory girl, shop girl, costermonger, waitress, and barmaid. The series 'The Heart of All Things' appeared in the magazine between November 1904 and May 1905, before being published together in her first book 'The Soul Market'.[1] The success of this book led to Malvery being in great demand as a public speaker.[5] Malvery donated some of the royalties from her books to Christian charities and to build two shelters for homeless women in London.[4][1] Malvery describes the success of The Soul Market as "the first book that roused the public to shame and sympathy". This would appear to have affected charitable giving, as she later went on to say "To-day there are a great many Mission which have been founded by people who were stirred by that book".[1] Malvery also lectured for the temperance movement in Europe and North America.[1]

In 1905, when Malvery married Archibald Mackirdy, a Scottish-born U.S. diplomat, the United States Consul at Muscat, Persia, she invited a thousand London working girls as wedding guests. Her bridesmaids were costermongers from Hoxton.[4] Malvery and her husband had three children (Flora Mackirdy, Mary Sinclair Mackirdy, John Montgomerie Mackirdy) before he died in 1909, from a severe haemorrhage. He is buried at Kensal Green.[4]

In 1911, her first hostel, The Mackirdy Hostel on Great Titchfield Street, was opened by the Duchess of Albany. In 1913, her second hostel, The Mackirdy Hostel for Women and Girls, Paddington, is opened by Princess Alexander of Teck. In 1914 she founded and became editor of the newspaper Mackirdy's Weekly. The paper promoted Women's Suffrage, but was strongly opposed to the militancy of suffragettes and was critical of Christabel Pankhurst. ​

She died aged 37 in 1914, at her home in Purley, Surrey, having been ill with cancer. The cause of death was apparently from an accidental overdose of sedatives.[4]


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