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Personal Papers of Rhoda Power, 1917 - 1985

Reference Code: GBR/0271/GCPP Power, R

Scope and Contents

Rhoda Power's surviving papers listed here comprise the diaries she kept of her experiences in revolutionary Russia in 1917-18; a series of letters which she wrote during her travels in South and North America in 1946-47 for circulation amongst her friends; and publishers' agreements. There are photographs of Rhoda Power in the papers of Eileen Power at GCPP Power, E 1/1.


  • 1917 - 1985


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright in all material written by Rhoda Power is vested in Trustees.

Biographical / Historical

Rhoda Dolores le Poer Power was born in 1890, the second of three daughters of Philip Ernest le Poer Power, stockbroker, and Mabel Grindley Clegg (see also Beryl Power and Eileen Power at GCPP Power, B and E respectively). Philip Power was convicted of fraud when Rhoda was about two, at which point he ceased to be part of the lives of Rhoda and her sisters, and Mabel Power died when Rhoda was thirteen. After the death of their mother the Power sisters were cared for by their maternal grandfather, Benson Clegg, and their mother's three unmarried sisters. After Oxford High School, Rhoda studied languages and political economy at St Andrew's University from 1911 to 1913. She then taught for a year in the United States and took up freelance jounalism. In 1917 she went to Russia as governess to the daughter of a businessman in Rostov-on-Don, where she was caught up in the Revolution. The chronic deafness which Rhoda suffered, and which got worse after an unsuccessful operation in America in 1947, would appear to have started because of an illness which she suffered while in Russia [see Russia diaries March 1917, GCPP Power, R 1/1/2]. In the mid-1920s Rhoda began writing history books for children, together with her sister Eileen, the first being a series entitled 'Boys and Girls in History' (1926). In the 1930s she continued to write children's histories on her own, including 'Great People of the Past' (1932) and 'The Kingsway Histories for Juniors' (1937). Rhoda Power's career with the BBC began in 1927, when she was asked to give six talks, 'Boys and girls of other days'. She worked on a freelance basis until July 1937, when she was appointed as a part-time assistant and scriptwriter in the school broadcasting department. She developed school broadcasting with the idea of the illustrated history lesson, using sound effects, music and dialogue: again, much of this work was undertaken in collaboration with her sister Eileen, sharing with her a belief in the importance of teaching world history. Rhoda regarded school broadcasting as a co-operative venture with schools and teachers and she travelled widely visiting schools and talking to teachers and children. Her World History Series, begun in 1932, was particularly successful. Rhoda became a full-time member of the school broadcasting department in 1939 and moved to Bristol with the department in 1940, continuing to write scripts and to develop new series, including 'If You Were Chinese'. She took a year out from 1946 to 1947, travelling in South and North America. Rhoda Power was appointed MBE in 1950. She continued to write scripts and develop new series through the 1950s, while publishing books based on her broadcasts, including 'We Were There' (1955), stories told by imaginary eye-witnesses. She also contributed to children's television programmes. Rhoda Power died suddenly in London on 9 March 1957.


1 archive box(es) (1 box) : paper

Language of Materials



There are numerous references to Rhoda Power in Maxine Berg, 'A Woman in History: Eileen Power 1889-1940', Cambridge University Press 1996.


Power, Rhoda Dolores le Poer, 1890-1957, broadcaster and children's writer

Repository Details

Part of the Girton College Archive Repository

The Archivist
Girton College Archive
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