Pearl Binder

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Pearl Binder (28 June 1904[1]–25 January 1990,[2]) was a British writer, illustrator, playwright, stained-glass artist, lithographer, sculptor and a champion of the Pearly Kings and Queens. She was a legendary character who had a lifelong fascination with the East End of London, where she settled in the 1920s.

Early life[edit]

Lady Elwyn-Jones, née Pearl "Polly" Binder was born in Salford. Her father was Jacob Binderevski, a Russian-Ukrainian Jewish tailor[2] who came to Britain in 1890 and shortly afterwards became a British citizen.


Binder moved to London after the first world war and studied art at Central School of Art and Design. In this time Binder drew scenes from everyday life in London that she made into lithographs. She published a series that illustrated “The Real East End” by Thomas Burke, a popular writer who ran a pub in Poplar at the time. Binder's illustrations are an intimate, first-hand portrayal of grimy London life in that era.[3]

Binder was a Pioneer in Children's television. In the early days of television Binder and the fashion historian James Laver co-presented the first television programme on the history of fashion. Clothes-Line was first aired as a six-part live series in 1937. Pearl Binder could well have been the first heavily pregnant woman to appear on television.

In the course of her life Binder travelled extensively in Russia and China, wrote a musical, designed costumes for a theatre company, wrote stories for children, designed a Pearly mug and plate for Wedgwood and instigated and executed 22 armorial windows at the House of Lords.

Family life[edit]

In 1937 she married Frederick Elwyn-Jones and in 1974 he became Lord Chancellor.

Binder's daughter Josephine was born 6 January 1938, less than a month after the transmission of the last episode of Clothes Line.[4] She was also the mother of the fashion historian Lou Taylor and of the poet Dan Jones.

Binder died in Brighton on 25 January 1990 aged 86, seven weeks after the death of her husband.[2][5]


  1. ^ "Pearl Binder", BFI.
  2. ^ a b c "Death of Lady Elwyn-Jones". Glasgow Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 2 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Pearl Binder, artist & writer". SpitalFields Life. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Taylor, Lou, Establishing Dress History, chapter 2 (Manchester 2002) ISBN 0-7190-6639-5
  5. ^ "Jones, (Frederick) Elwyn, Baron Elwyn-Jones (1909–1989)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.