Scope and Contents
Copies of Margaret Diggle's letters home from Girton 1923-26 (fourteen letters). The subject matter includes Quiller Couch's lectures (on Dorothy Wordsworth etc) and tutorials with Q., and coaching from F R Leavis (whom she describes), as well as other lectures (mainly in the English Faculty) from G K Chesterton (and his altercation with G G Coulton), Bertrand Russell (on China), and Middleton Murray (Clark lectures). In addition there are descriptions of life at Girton - her room, the Fire Brigade Dance and other dances, a controversy over Freshers Rag, the rule about men in Girton grounds, Tripos Tea, the impact of the General Strike, and, in 1924, the change of status when College became self governing (in this letter is detail of Bertha Phillpotts' explanation of the reasons behind the University's opposition to the admission of women). MD writes of being permanently short of money, the problems of choosing a career, and her student contributions to 'The Gownsman' (including examples).
With the letters are MD's explanatory notes to them, as well as letters to the Archivist 1992-99 about the gift, and some later reminiscences of her time at Girton. There is also a copy of her poems, 'The Telescope of Years' circa 1990.
Biographical / Historical
Margaret Diggle was born in Moulton, near Spalding, Lincolnshire, the youngest of four children of John Harber Diggle, a land agent and later civil servant, and Katharine (Kitty) Stark, a cookery teacher. She was educated at Willand Hall School, Spalding, and The College, Harrogate before coming up to Girton College in 1923 as a Henry Tomkinson Scholar to read English. She was awarded the Charity Reeves Prize for a first in English then switched to History for her final year in 1925-26. Margaret’s memories of Girton included being conscientious about work, making friends with ease, and being permanently short of money. She continued at Girton for a further two years as a Turle Scholar, obtaining an M.Litt in 1928.
Margaret Diggle then went into teaching, returning to Cambridge 1930-31 to obtain a certificate in education at the Cambridge Training College for Women. She then taught at the Duchess School, Alnwick, Northumberland, for three years before taking up a post at Gloucester Training College of Domestic Science as a lecturer in English and later in English and Education. After ten years at Gloucester, she spent two years as an education lecturer at Stockwell College, Bromley before setting off for the USA in 1946 to take posts as a lecturer, first at Wellesley College, then at Ohio State University, and finally at the University of Oregon.
On her return to post-war Britain in 1949 she found it difficult to get employment, but she eventually became a tutor at Bilston College of Further Education before being appointed as lecturer at Garnett College in 1954. She remained there until her retirement in 1970. After retirement, she moved from London to a Sussex village, where she cared for an older sister. In 1973 the Cambridge Quarterly published her study, Mansfield Forbes on the Romantic Revival and, c. 1990, she published an anthology of her poetry, The Telescope of Years. She was elected a Barbara Bodichon Foundation Fellow by Girton in 2005, just short of her hundredth birthday, and she chaired a U3A [University of the Third Age] poetry group until the age of one hundred and one.
Margaret Diggle died in 2008 and left a bequest to Girton College specifically intended for the support of poorer and disadvantaged students. [Notes drawn from Girton College Register Vol. I and an obituary by Margaret Diggle's nephew Tony Diggle in the Girton College Annual Review 2009.]