Partner Evelina Haverfield, Margaret Greenlees, Margaret Ker
Dunearn House, Lochearnhead FK19 8PX, UK
Vera Louise Holme, also known as Vera 'Jack' Holme, (1881–1973) was a British actress and a suffragette. She was known as the Emmeline Pankhurst's chauffeur. During World War I Evelina Haverfield worked as a nurse in Serbia. After the war, she returned to Serbia with her companion Vera "Jack" Holme to set up an orphanage in Bajina Bašta, a town in the west of the country. The two women worked closely with Dr Elsie Inglis in Serbia during the war, and when Haverfield died in 1920, Holme stayed in Serbia working as an ambulance and relief lorry drive. On the death of her lover, Evelina Haverfield, in 1920, Vera Holme was required by the executors to remove her belongings from their shared home, and Holme sent to them a list of requests for particular gifts, including "1 bed with carved sides EH and VH". Vera Holme's friend, Naomi "Micky" Jacob, who ran a munitions factory in Willesden during the war, was also a lesbian.
Holme was born in Birkdale in Lancashire on 29 August 1881. Her parents were Richard and Mary Holme. Little is known of her early life but she may have been to school in France. She was able to sing, act, ride horses and to play the violin. She became an actress and in 1906 she had a place in the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company in London, which was based in the Savoy Theatre. By 1908 she had joined the Actresses' Franchise League, and became involved in the militant suffrage campaigning group the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). One notable escapade was when she hid in the large organ of a public hall in Bristol. Holme waited overnight and she achieved her objective of shouting "Votes for Women" at a political address the next day.
In 1909 Holme was invited to Mary Blathwayt's home at Batheaston where the leading suffragettes met. Significant visitors were asked to plant a tree to record their achievements on behalf of the cause e.g. a prison sentence. In 1911 she was arrested for stone throwing and imprisoned in Holloway Prison.
During these years she was best known as the Pankhurst's chauffeur.
Upon the outbreak of war in 1914 Holme joined Eveline Haverfield's Women's Volunteer Reserve, and went on to join the Scottish Women's Hospitals for Foreign Service (SWH) as part of their transport unit. She was Haverfield's partner and she was appointed a major. She was based in Serbia and Russia. Holme was imprisoned again; this time she spent some months as a prisoner of war in Austria. In 1917 she was sent back to England to carry a personal message from Dr Elsie Inglis to Lord Derby, the Secretary of State for War.
Holme had met Haverfield before the war, and they were companions from 1911 until Haverfield's death in 1920. Although during 1919 she was living in Kirkcudbright where she had an affair with the artist Dorothy Johnstone. Holme was left £50 a year for life by Haverfield. In the 1920s she spent time with Christabel Marshall's ménage à trois partners, Edith Craig and Clare Atwood. She was known throughout her life for adoption of masculine dress and mannerisms, well documented in the photographs held in her archive.
When she returned from Serbia in the late 1920s, Vera Holme set up home together with Margaret Greenlees and Margaret Ker in Lochearnhead, Scotland. They were known as the 'Ladies of Lochearnhead'. By 1939, Margaret Ker had moved out.
Holme died in 1969 in Glasgow.
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