Dr Margaret Posthuma

A pioneering child psychiatrist of the 1930s who was EM Delafield's best friend and is immortalised as 'Rose' in  Provincial Lady series.

She was born in 1876 (?7) in Sewknor, Oxon, the daughter of a clergyman (Rev George Fitzclarence Slade) whose father had been a General in the Peninsular War and was created a Baronet.  Her elder brother Edmond became an Admiral and Vice-Chairman of BP (the Anglo-Persian Oil Company as it then was) - another brother became a successful lawyer in Hong Kong.  She always wanted to be a Doctor but at the turn of the 19th Century this was not considered suitable for a woman (the first UK female doctor had qualified through a loophole in 1865) and also Doctors were regarded as 'trade' and not really a suitable occupaton for the grand-child of a Baronet. My grandmother (her neice) told me that the Doctor would enter the tradesman's entrance.

However she was determined. She met a dutchman called Posthuma on a cruise, and married him.  I have not found any documentation giving more details, and there is no notice in the The Times so it seems possible that the family disapproved.  I was told that she went to America to study as a Psychiatrist.  EM Delafield confirms that Rose spent quite some time in America.

The first records I have been able to find are in 1925 when she passed her MB Examination at the University of Bristol, and qualified as a Doctor (aged then 49!)  In the 1926 Medical Directory she is established at  1 Southfield Rd. Westbury-on-Trym - a small town near Bristol.  There were 17 other doctors in Westbury so I don't know who were her partners.  In 1930 she is mentioned in The Lancet as being a doctor whose address the GMC was unable to confirm. It is possible that she was in America studying then, but it is equally possible that she mislaid the letter. She is still shown at Westbury in the 1930 and 1931 Directories.

But by 1932 she has moved to London and is established in 15 New Cavendish Street, and in 1938 she has moved  to 128 Harley Street.  By 1939 she became, in addition, an Assistant Psychiatrist at the London Child Guidance Clinic and a Clinical Assistant at the Child Guidance Clinic at Guy's Hospital.  She’s a member of the Womens Medical Federation in 1931 & 32 (and marked as nee Slade!) But she isn’t in 1938 or 36 or 56 or any subsequent ones I can find.

In the 1941 Medical Directory she is listed as  Hon. Director Metrop. Emerg. Child Guidance Clinic rather than at the London Child Guidance Clinic - I haven't been able to find anything about this.  However there are some archives at Rockerfeller that may have relevant information.  There is also in this archive a report by her of Observational Trips (May 29, 1928 to Dec 21, 1933) funded by the Commonwealth Fund - I'll try to find out more.

I think 128 Harley Street must have been bombed in 1941 because it is not there in the 1942 Post Office Directory. However Dr Posthuma has moved to The Old House, Horsley’s Green, nr. High Wycombe, Bucks and in addition to being Clin. Asst. Child Guidance Clinic, Guy’s Hosp. she is Psychiat. i/c Child Guidance Clinic, High Wycombe. I have been able to find out nothing about this.  Her entry stays the same until 1955 where she has moved to Weaver’s, North Wraxall, Chippenham, Wilts and is. Late Clin. Asst. Child Guidance Clinic, Guy’s Hosp; Psychiat. i/c Child Guidance Clinic, High Wycombe.  By this time she is 79 so has presumably retired!  This entry continues until 1962 so she presumably died in 1961 aged 85.

The London Child Guidance Clinic

This was one of the earliest Child Psychiatry units in England, founded in Islington in 1929.   (The East London Child Guidance Clinic was founded by the Jewish Health Organisation in 1927 and is thought to be the first such clinic in Europe)  John Bowlby famously practiced there after graduating, and did pioneering research on delinquent children in 1944.  There were various society fundraising events for the Clinic in the 1930s, and EM Delafield made a radio appeal for funds (On Sat April 15th, 1933/?9). 

In 1934 The Times reported that Lady Lawrence had written a foreword to the report of the Clinic, at Canonbury, of which she was Chairman. She says that "in its efforts to adjust the groping child mind to life, top make useful citizens of difficult and abnormal boys and girls, the [Clinc] is doing the work of civilisation". The report shows that the time has now arisen when the support of the Commonwealth Fund, upon whichthe clinc has very largely depended, will be gradually withdrawn, and it is therefore necessary for financial aid to be sought elsewhere. During the 4½ years the Clinic had been open it had dealt with nearly 1900 cases (973 in the years 1932 &1933) with referrals from all over England, Wales Ireland and Scotland. Training students was one of the specific objectives of the Clinic. It was recognised from the beginning  by the London County Council, and referrals came from LCC Schools, Magistrates and Probation Officers. The problems and characteristics included: Backwardness, stealing, nervousness, difficult and unmanageable, temper, enuresis, speech difficulties, lying, sex difficulties, truancy and wandering, night terrors and fears, vocational tests, restlessness and sleeplessnesss, screaming, spitefulness, depression, defiance, overactivity, nervous movements, anxiety, fits, feeding difficulties, unwilling to attend school, lack of concentration and hysteria.

William Moodie was Director in 1933 (possibly from 1929-1936)

From 1941-1946 Kathleeen Todd was its Director and she wrote Child treatment and the therapy of play with Lydia Jackson which was published in 1946.

In 1967 it moved to the Tavistock - I hope to find some archival records about it.  There are Bowlby's papers on his work at the London Child Guidance Clinic (1936-87!) in the Wellcome Library so at some stage I should go back and check them. Rokerfeller has the Archives of the Commonwealth Fund and there is lots of material there - again I'd love to get hold of some.

Lady Lawrence

I think this was the Lady Lawrence who was better known as Rosamond Napier. However the Rockerfeller Archives have her as Lady (Isabel) Lawrence of whom I can find no trace at present.

Lady Rosamond Lawrence was a British novelist who had several popular titles to her credit before marrying and relocating to the wilds of India complete with snakes, panthers, travel by horseback, and sleeping in jungles. Indian Embers.  She was born in 1878.  She was evidently Chairman of the London Child Guidance Clinic in 1934.  Her works in the British Library Catalogue are:

A Cameo from The Provincial Lady Goes Further

October 13th -  Call upon Rose, in rather unusual frame of mind which suddenly descends upon me after lunch - cannot at all say why - impelling me to demand explanation of strange behaviour last week.
     Rose at home, and says How nice to see me, which takes the wind out of my sails, but I rally and say firmly that That is All Very Well, but what about that evening at the Women's Institute?  At this Rose, though holding her ground, blanches perceptably and tells me to sit down quietly and explain what I mean.  Am very angry at quietly,which sounds as if I usually smashed up all the furniture, and reply - rather scathingly - that I will do my best not to rouse the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, rather unguarded movement of annoyance results in upsetting of small table, idiotically loaded with weighty books, insecurely fastened box of cigarettes, and two ash-trays.  We collect them again in silence - cigarettes particularly elusive, and roll to immense distances underneath sofa and behind electric fire - and finally achieve an arm-chair apiece, and glare at one another across expanse of Persian rug.
     Am astonished that Rose is able to look me in the face at all, and say so, and long and painful conversation ensues, revealing curious inability on both our parts to keep to main issue. Should be sorry to recall in any detail exact number and nature of utterly irrelevant observations exchanged, but have distinct recollection that Rose assets at various times that: (a) If I had been properly psycho-analysed years ago, I should realise that my mind has never really come to maturity at all. (b) It is perfectly ridiculous to wear shoes with such high heels. (c) Robert is a perfect saint and has a lot to put up with. (d) no-one in the world can be readier than Rose to admit that I can Write, but to talk about The Piano is absurd.
     Cannot deny that in return I inform her, in the course of the evening, that: (a)  Her best friend could never call Rose tidy - look at the room now! (b) There is a great difference between being merely impulsive, and being utterly and grossly inconsiderate (c) Having been to America does not, in itself, constitute any claim to infallability on every question under the sun. (d) Naturally, what's past is past, and I don't want to remind her about the time she lost her temper over those idiotic iris-roots.
     Cannot say at what stage I am reduced to tears, but this unfortunately happens, and I explain that it is entirely due to rage, and nothing else. Rose suddenly says there is nothing like coffee, and rings the bell.  Retire to bathroom in great disorder, mop myself up - terams highly unbecoming, and should much like to know how film-stars do it, usual explanation of Glycerine seems to me quite inadequate - Return to sutting-room and find that Rose, with extraordinary presence of mind, has put on the grapahone. Listen in silence to Rhapsody in Blue, and feel better.
    Admirable coffee is brought in, drink some, and feel better still.  Am once more enabled to meet Rose's eye, which now indicates contrition, and we simultaneously say that is Perfectly Impossible, and Don't let's quarrel, whatever we do.  All is harmony in a moment, I kiss Rose, and she says that the whole thing was her fault, from start to finish, and I say No, it was mine absolutely, and we both say that we didn't really mean anything we said.
     (Cold-blooded and slightly cynical idea crosses my mind later that entire evening has been a complete waste of nervous energy, if neither of us meant any of the things we said - but refuse to dwell on this aspect of the case.)