Elizabeth Haldane

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Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane
E.S.Haldane 1.jpg
Taken from the frontispiece of her autobiography 'From One Century to Another'.
Born (1862-05-27)27 May 1862
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died 24 December 1937(1937-12-24) (aged 75)
St. Margaret's Hospital, Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, UK
Pen name E. S. Haldane
Occupation Writer, biographer, historian, philosopher
Nationality Scottish
Genre non-fiction, biography, philosophy

Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane, CH, JP (/ˈhɔːldn/; 27 May 1862 – 24 December 1937) was an eminent public figure, author, biographer, philosopher, suffragist, nursing administrator, and social welfare worker. She was the sister of Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane and John Scott Haldane, and became the first female Justice of the Peace in Scotland in 1920.[1] She was made a Companion of Honour in 1918.


Elizabeth Haldane was born on 27 May 1862 at 17 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. Her father was Robert Haldane of Cloan House near Auchterarder, Perthshire and her mother was Mary Elizabeth Sanderson.[2] She was educated by a succession of tutors and visiting schoolmasters. She wanted to go to college but it was too expensive and she was an only daughter tied to her widowed mother. Instead she educated herself by correspondence courses.[3]

She took nursing courses in the 1880s and subsequently became involved in establishing the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) from 1908 onwards.[4] She became a manager of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary around 1901 onwards.[5] Her autobiography, From One Century to Another covers the period from 1862 to 1914. It lacks precise detail but gives a graphic picture of what it was like to be a well-to-do lady in the Victorian and Edwardian periods. She was intimate with royalty such as Queen Alexandra[6] and was a personal friend of literary figures such as Matthew Arnold and George Meredith. She was taken out to dinner by Matthew Arnold who astonished her "by his knowledge of the neighbouring fishing streams, since he did not personally know the neighbourhood." She adds that: "I enjoyed his talk very much, as I had always had a great admiration for his work and felt it an honour to meet him. He had the stiff rather highbrow Victorian face one knew so well from pictures, but he was delightful to me."[7] George Meredith visited Cloan House in September 1890. She recalls that "It was quite unnecessary to entertain him, for the wonderful sentences poured from his mouth and we had but to listen."[8] In later life, she corresponded with her niece, Naomi Mitchison (née Haldane) who regarded her suffragist views as being out of date. Haldane accepted "the restriction of women's activities to the inside, the personal, the domestic" whereas Mitchison considered women to be equally free to pursuit their lives outside the home.[9] She died on 24 December 1937 at St. Margaret's Hospital, Auchterarder, Perthshire.

Official Appointments[edit]



  1. ^ "Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane:Historical Figures and Perthshire". Strathearn.com. Retrieved 28 September 2007. 
  2. ^ Births and deaths information available at the General Register Office for Scotland, Scotlands People Centre in Edinburgh, and also at Scotland's People.gov.uk. She was christened 'Elizabeth Saunderson' but the additional 'u' seems to be a clerical error.
  3. ^ Haldane, Elizabeth S. (1937). From one century to another: the reminiscences of Elizabeth S. Haldane. London: Alexander Maclehose & Co. p. 73. OCLC 2174488. 
  4. ^ The Territorial Force Nursing Service 1908–1921: available here.
  5. ^ From One Century to Another, p.196.
  6. ^ From One Century to Another, pp. 223, 257.
  7. ^ From One Century to Another, pp.101–102.
  8. ^ From One Century to Another, p.164.
  9. ^ According to Johanna Alberti, in her paper, "Inside out: Elizabeth Haldane as a women's suffrage survivor in the 1920s and 1930s". Women's Studies International Forum (ScienceDirect) 13 (1-2): 117–125. 1990. doi:10.1016/0277-5395(90)90078-C. 
  10. ^ This list of her appointments appears in her 'Who was Who' entry.


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