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Personal Papers of Doreen Simmons, 1980 - 2018

Reference Code: GBR/0271/GCPP Simmons

Scope and Contents

The personal papers of Doreen Simmons listed here are held in digital form only. They comprise personal and biographical items, written work and papers relating to talks and lectures given by Doreen Simmons. Practically all of the written work and talks are on the subject of sumo wrestling. They cover a span of about thirty-five years, although it may be that they represent only a selection of her output. The personal materials include biographical articles on DS, photographs and obituaries. There are also photographs of DS in some of the papers relating to her talks and lectures. Many of the obituaries include considerable biographical detail. Some were compiled by various Tokyo-based organisations of which she was a member, and she was also remembered in her native Nottinghamshire. But it is interesting to note that obituaries for her were also published in the USA media, including NPR [National Public Radio], the New York Times and the Washington Post, suggesting a huge American interest in her contribution to sumo.


  • Creation: 1980 - 2018


Conditions Governing Use

The copyright in papers written by Doreen Simmons is held by St. Alban's Anglican-Episcopal Church, Tokyo. In the first instance please contact the Archivist.

Biographical / Historical

Doreen Sylvia Clarke was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, on 29 May 1932, the daughter of George Thomas Clarke, civil servant, and Elsie Noble, saleswoman. She was educated at Mundella Grammar School, Nottingham, and came to Girton College in 1950, having taught herself Greek in order to sit the entrance examination. She took Part I of the Classics Tripos in 1952 and part 1A of the Theology Tripos in 1953. She gained a PGCE from Hughes Hall, Cambridge in 1954 and taught Latin and Greek at a number of schools: Herbert Strutt School, Belper (1954-57); Leamington High School (1957-60); two successive schools in Singapore (1960-67); and Lady Eleanor Holles School, Hampton (1968-73). She married Robert George Simmons in 1967; the marriage was later dissolved.
Doreen Simmons lived in Tokyo from 1973 till the end of her life. She was Director of Studies at the International Language Centre in Tokyo, 1973-78. She then became Special Advisor at the Foreign Press Centre, Tokyo, in 1978 and Adviser to the House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Department, Tokyo in 1979, posts which she held concurrently. She was still working for the Foreign Press Centre in 2005.
In 1988 Doreen moved to an apartment in the Ryogoku area of Tokyo, famous for its many sumo stables. She had developed a strong interest in sumo since arriving in Japan. Having read theology as well as classics, she was originally attracted to sumo by its rituals and beliefs but soon became interested in the sport, the wrestlers and all the other people who make up the world of sumo. She wrote widely on the subject, including regular contributions to Sumo World magazine. She became sumo correspondent for Kansai Time out in 1992, the year which also saw the beginning of her regular guest commentary on NHK’s English-language satellite broadcasts of sumo. She also contributed articles on a wide variety of cultural and social topics to the Okura Lantern, Mainichi Daily News and Mainichi Weekly, and to other English- and Japanese-language papers. She lectured on sumo and other subjects to many organisations including the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan, the College Women’s Association of Japan and the Kobe Women’s Club
Doreen Simmons had wide interests beyond sumo, including music (choral singing and playing the bodhran). She was a member of St Alban’s Church in Tokyo and often visited the Union Church, on whose Ecumenical Council she served for six years. She was a Licensed Lay Reader in the Diocese of Tokyo. In 2017 Doreen Simmons was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun (the highest honour in Japan not reserved for royalty or politicians) for her services to the promotion of Japanese culture. She remained active until the end of her life. She died on 23 April 2018 in Tokyo. [Notes derived from Girton College Register Vol. II and from the sources listed here.]


52 digital file(s)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by St. Alban's Anglican-Episcopal Church, Tokyo.

Existence and Location of Originals

The original documents, many of which consisted of xeroxed copies, no longer exist.

Related Materials

Various sources of information on Doreen Simmons are available online. See in particular - an article written for a Nottingham magazine in 2020 by Jayne Muir who, with a friend, had researched DS for a play they had written. A copy of P L Cuyler, 'Sumo: From Rite to Sport', as revised by Doreen Simmons, third printing 1991, is held in Girton College Library.


Simmons, Doreen Sylvia, nee Clarke, 1921-2018



Repository Details

Part of the Girton College Archive Repository

The Archivist
Girton College Archive
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