Elisabeth Furse

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Elisabeth Furse
Born Louise Ruth Wolpert
(1910-08-30)30 August 1910
Königsberg, German Empire
Died 20 October 2002(2002-10-20) (aged 92)
London, England
Resting place Brompton Cemetery, London
Spouse(s) Bertie Coker
(m. 1934-?)
Peter Haden-Guest, 4th Baron Haden-Guest
(m. 1939–45)

Patrick John Dolignon Furse
(m. 1945–60)
Children 5, including Anthony Haden-Guest and John Furse

Elisabeth Furse (30 August 1910 – 14 October 2002) was a Communist activist, World War II resistance escape route organizer, London bistro proprietress, and an early member of the Association of Cinematograph and Television Technicians (ACCT).

Early life[edit]

She was born Louise Ruth Wolpert in Königsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad), and brought up in Berlin. Her father was a Russian-speaking Latvian Jew and a wealthy textile merchant; her mother, also Jewish, a German-speaking Lithuanian from a family of rich corn merchants. She was nicknamed "Lisl" by an aunt, from which she derived Elisabeth, the name she later adopted for herself.

Political activist[edit]

As a teenager she joined the Communist Party, and in her early twenties collected money in France and England to help political refugees in Germany to escape the Nazis.

In 1934, she married Bertie Coker, a fellow Communist. It was a marriage of convenience for a new nationality and legal residence outside Germany, where her activities with the Communists put her at risk of arrest and execution by the Gestapo. She left the Communist movement in 1934.


She was one of the earliest members (no. 35) of the Association of Cinematograph and Television Technicians (ACCT; founded in 1933).

World War II[edit]

Her second marriage was to Peter Haden-Guest. Their son, Anthony Haden-Guest was born in 1937. The marriage was dissolved in 1945.

Elisabeth was in France when war broke out. She made her way to Marseilles, where she joined MI9 and, with Ian Garrow, helped those opposed to the Germans escape occupied France via the Pat Line escape route. Her group was eventually betrayed, and after her release she returned to London.

She spent the rest of the war on the Devon estate of Patrick John Dolignon Furse (1918–2005), a British artist who was to become her third husband. They had four children, John Furse, Katharine (Katya), Anna and Sara.

In 1953 she started The Bistro, behind London's Royal Court Theatre with her husband. Under her eccentric management, The Bistro became a regular haunt of various journalists, politicians, artists and society figures, many of whom went on to become well-known public figures.


Furse wrote her life memoir, Dream Weaver, with the assistance of writer Ann Barr.


She died in 2002, aged 92, and was interred in Brompton Cemetery, London.


External links[edit]