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Schonland, Lady Isabel Marian, 1896-1976



Isabel Marian ('Ismay') Craib (1896-1976) was born on 7 Oct. 1896, the daughter of Prof. James Craib, teacher and later Inspector of Schools in the Cape Province of Somerset East, South Africa, and Isabella Cornelia Hofmeyr. She was educated at Gill College, Somerset East and the University of Cape Town, then read English at Newnham College, Cambridge, 1919-1921. While in Cambridge she met fellow South African Basil Ferdinand Jamieson Schonland, who shared rooms with her brother at Gonville and Caius College, and they became engaged. Ismay married Basil in 1923. In 1921 Isabel Craib returned to South Africa to take a Teaching Diploma at Rhodes University. She taught English and history at Gill College, at the Teachers's Training College, and subsequently at Rondebosh Boys's High School. In 1922 Basil Schonland returned to South Africa as Senior Lecturer in physics at Cape Town. They were married on 21 July 1923, and had a son and two daughters. In 1954 the Schonlands moved to England on Basil Schonland's appointment as Deputy Director of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. He was made Director in 1958 and was knighted in 1960. During Second World War Mrs Schonland served in the Special Signal Services (Radar) and in the Women's Auxiliary Air Service. From 1947 to 1954 she carried out work for the Union War Histories Advisory Committee, which was researching and writing material for a history of South Africa's involvement in the Second World War. The Committee had been established in 1943 by Field Marshal Smuts and later became part of the Union War Histories Section of the Prime Minister's office. Mrs Schonland continued with this work for a few years after moving to England, but most of her narratives were not published. Her other responsibilities included being Honorary Treasurer of the Child Welfare Society, Pretoria, and Honorary Secretary of the Alexandra Health Clinic (Africans), Johannesburg. Dr and Mrs Schonland were both involved with the work of the South African Institute of Race Relations, and in particular were members of a small 'liaison committee' formed in 1952 to advise the Ford Foundation in New York on the merits of applications for money for the Institute. In that capacity they checked drafts of applications for grants and corresponded with Quintin Whyte, the Director of the Institute, and other members of the committee. The Schonlands seem to have had a particular interest in fostering research projects in the field of social development. Mrs Schonland was closely interested in a survey carried out by Mia Brandel-Syrier in and around Johannesburg and Durban in 1953-1955 on the needs of urban African women, which was commissioned by the Institute of Race Relations. In England the Schonlands were involved in a committee that tried to encourage research into industrialisation and social development in Africa. Sir Basil Schonland died on 24 Nov. 1972 in a nursing home in Shawford, Hampshire. Lady Schonland died on 19 July 1976.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Lady Isabel Marian Schonland: papers, photographs and printed material relating to South African affairs

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8703
Scope and Contents Papers, correspondence and research materials concerning Schonland's authorship of parts of the narrative of the 'Union War Histories', a history of South Africa's involvement in the Second World War, and her work in promoting harmonious race-relations in South Africa, including work with the Institute of Race Relations. The collection includes papers relating to a survey commissioned by the South African Institute of Race Relations on 'the needs of Urban African Women'. A small amount of...
Dates: 1939-1964 (Circa)
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (