Lady Kennet was born at the rectory, Carlton in Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, on 27 March 1878, the youngest of the eleven children of Lloyd Stewart Bruce (1829–1886), a Church of England clergyman, and his first wife, Jane (Janie) Skene (c.1838–1880), an amateur artist. Orphaned at the age of eight, she was brought up in Edinburgh by her great-uncle, the historian William Forbes Skene, and was educated at two English boarding-schools. Her disciplined and restricted upbringing provoked a strong sense of independence and, after rejecting the idea of teaching, she attended the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1900–02) and the Académie Colarossi, Paris where she studied under Rodin.
Her earliest surviving works are a series of statuettes reflecting her obsession with motherhood and the baby as a miracle of creation. Her concern for babies born amid the Turkish atrocities in Macedonia led her to quit her studio in 1903 to assist with child relief there.
In 1906 she met Captain Robert Falcon Scott (1868–1912). They were married on 2 September 1908 and their son, Sir Peter Markham Scott, was born the following year. Her brief marriage was marked by lengthy separations from Scott due to his naval duties and, from 1910, his second Antarctic expedition. On her return voyage to New Zealand to meet him in 1913, she learned of his death the previous year. Granted the rank of a widow of a knight commander in the Order of the Bath and known as Lady Scott, she aroused widespread admiration for the dignified and courageous manner in which she bore her loss and for her determination to give her son a happy childhood. Her regard for what she called Scott's ‘gloriousness’ is reflected in her best-known sculpture, a bronze statue of him (1915) in Waterloo Place, London and its marble replica (1916–17), in Christchurch, New Zealand. When not engaged on these statues, Kathleen undertook wartime work. After helping to establish an ambulance service in northern France, she worked in the Vickers factory in Erith, Kent, making electric coils, and in 1917 was private secretary to Sir Matthew Nathan, permanent under-secretary at the Ministry of Pensions. In 1918 she reconstructed faces of the war wounded, her models acting as a basis for the plastic surgery which followed.
Kathleen's career as a sculptor peaked during the inter-war years and she became known for her busts of many powerful men of the day, including Herbert Asquith, David Lloyd-George, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain. In all, she had six major exhibitions, regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy, became an associate member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1923), was awarded a bronze medal at the salon of the Société des Artistes Français (1925), and was elected to the council of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (1937), followed nine years later by fellowship of the society.
Her friends included George Bernard Shaw, James Barrie, Max Beerbohm and Henry James.
In 1922 she married the politician, journalist, and businessman (Edward) Hilton Young (1879–1960) and they had one son, Wayland Hilton Young, born in 1923.
She died of leukaemia on 24 July 1947.
Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Kennet
Scope and Contents
A collection comprising the papers of the Rt.Hon. Edward Hilton Young (1879-1960), 1st Lord Kennet of the Dene, the politician and writer, and those of his wife Kathleen (1878-1947), a noted sculptor and the widow of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer.Lord Kennet's papers contain school letters and diaries, a series of correspondence with G.M Trevelyan and E.M. Forster, letters and diaries from his war years, political papers and letters including correspondence with Neville...
Conditions Governing Access:
Restricted. Permission must be sought before consulting anything from this collection.