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Vera Ruth Gordon Douie (1894 - January 11, 1979) was the first woman Permanent Librarian, The Women’s Library, London in 1926. She is the author of the biography of Aeta Lamb.
Douie corresponded with Virginia Woolf. Woolf turned to the LNSWS’s library, adjacent to the hall, and to its librarian, Vera Douie, when seeking verification of the facts, gathered into footnotes, in Three Guineas. In March 1938, for instance, she wrote enquiring about peace organisations and the numbers of women involved in working for peace. Vera Douie sent her a full reply, enclosing Mrs Fawcett’s pamphlet on ‘What the Vote Has Done’. A couple of months later , in gratitude for the help she had received, Virginia Woolf offered to supply the library with any books, new or antiquarian that it required. The offer was gratefully accepted; in 1938, for example, Virginia Woolf gave to the library both volumes of the newly published Miss Weeton. Journal of a Governess, a text from which she had copied quotations into her Three Guineas Reading Notebook, and in July 1940 paid for two books by Mary Carpenter, Juvenile Delinquents (1853) and Our Convicts (1864), that had appeared in the catalogue of an antiquarian bookseller. Both the latter are still part of the Cavendish Bentinck collection in the Women’s Library at LSE – although the name of their donor is not noted in the catalogue entry. On 26 March 1941 Vera Douie wrote to Mrs Woolf to say how much she had enjoyed reading her biography of Roger Fry and asking, in her usual delicate manner, for two more books. This time, however, her request was in vain. Virginia Woolf was dead by the time the letter was delivered to Monks’s House.
Douie was born in Lahore in 1894, the daughter of a British Civil servant in India. She was educated at the Godolphin School, Salisbury before going on to complete her studies at Oxford University before degrees could be taken by women. She subsequently became a library assistant at the War Office Library from 1916 until 1921, the year in which she became the indexer of 'The Medical History of the War'. She later became the librarian of the London National Society for Women's Service at the Women's Service Library at Marsham St, London between 1926 and her retirement in 1967. It was Douie who, during this period, laid the foundations of its transformation into the Fawcett Library (now The Women's Library). She was active in the women's movement throughout her life and was particularly involved in the Association for Moral & Social Hygiene. During the Second World War she was a fervent campaigner for equal rights and published 'The Lesser Half' on behalf of the Women's Publicity Planning Association in 1943, examining the 'laws, regulations and practices introduced during the present war, which embody discrimination against women'. After the war, she also published 'Daughters of Britain: an account of the work of British women during the 2nd World War' (1950). When she retired in 1967, she was awarded the OBE for her life's work. She died in 1979.
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