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Personal Papers of Sarah Tebbutt, 1873 - 2013

Reference Code: GBR/0271/GCPP Tebbutt

Scope and Contents

The papers of Sarah Tebbutt, née Mason, comprise transcripts of her personal diaries, 1875-82, and a miscellany of other personal and biographical materials.


  • Creation: 1873 - 2013


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is presumed to lie with the heir/s of the authors of individual items.

Biographical / Historical

Sarah Ellen Mason was born on 29 September 1859 in Northampton, the daughter of Hannah and Joseph Mason. Her father was a clerk with the London and North Western Railway: he died in about 1865. After his death, Sarah’s aunt Mary Anne Fisher (her mother’s eldest sister) became her guardian and she went to live with her in Camden Town, London, attending the North London Collegiate School from the age of about ten. Tom Lester says that ‘the unmistakeable impression from the diaries is that [the rest of the family] - - - faded into the background’. Sarah had a passion for singing and church music. She and her aunt were ‘devotees of the West End theatres, Covent Garden and the Royal Academy and (as her diaries relate) Sarah - - - saw and heard most of the leading actors, opera singers and painters of the period’. The diaries also refer to ‘Uncle’: this was Luke Shipman / Fisher, who appears to have been a business partner of Mary Anne’s late husband, William Fisher. Sarah studied at Girton from the Michaelmas Term of 1878 until the Easter Term of 1880 and returned to Girton for the whole of 1881: she is thought to have missed the Michaelmas Term 1880 because of chronic insomnia. She spent a large part of that term with her older cousin, Anna, and her husband, John McDonald, who was a minister in the Scottish Free Church. She studied Classics, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, though she did not take a Tripos. She obtained the standard of Ordinary Degree and also achieved a first class in the Special Examination for Law in 1881. Sarah married, in 1892, Frank Minards Tebbutt, the son of a Northampton shoe manufacturer, and had four children with him, but they separated in 1905. Mary Anne died in 1897 and Sarah brought up her four children in her mother’s house in Coventry, where she died in 1933, having been cared for her in her last years by her younger daughter, Beryl. [These biographical notes have been drawn largely from Tom Lester’s introductory notes to Sarah Mason’s diaries at GCPP Tebbutt 2/1.]


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

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

GCPP Tebbutt 1 and 4-8 were donated by Tom Lester, grandson of Sarah Tebbutt, in 2007. GCPP Tebbutt 3 was donated by Mrs B S M Lester, daughter of Sarah Tebbutt, in 1970.

Existence and Location of Originals

The original diaries are with Mr Tom Lester.


An extract from Sarah Mason's diary was published in the Girton Review, Lent Term 1971, which also contains a full page reproduction of a photograph of her aged about 20.


Tebbutt, Sarah Ellen, 1859-1933, née Mason

Finding aid date

1998-09-03 13:40:49+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Girton College Archive Repository

The Archivist
Girton College Archive
Huntingdon Road
Cambridge CB3 0JG United Kingdom
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