Kathleen Freeman (classicist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Kathleen Freeman
Kathleen Freeman (classicist).jpg
Kathleen Freeman
Born22 June 1897
Died21 February 1959
Parent(s)Charles H Freeman and Catherine (Mawdesley) Freeman
Academic background
Alma materCardiff University (as University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire)
Academic work
DisciplineAncient Greek philosophy
InstitutionsCardiff University (as University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire), Philosophical Society of England

Kathleen Freeman (22 June 1897 – 21 February 1959) was a gay British classical scholar and author of detective novels. Her detective fiction was published under the pseudonym Mary Fitt. Freeman was a lecturer in Greek at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff between 1919 and 1946.[1]

Early life, education and academic career[edit]

Kathleen Freeman was born in Yardley, Birmingham, and was the daughter of a commercial traveller (Charles H Freeman) and Catherine (Mawdesley). By 1911, the family had moved to an eight-room house on Conway Road, Cardiff.[2] Freeman's mother died in 1919, and her father died in 1932.[2] [315] Freeman attended Canton High School on Market Road in Cardiff, which opened in 1907. Boys and girls were both educated in the school but separately in different subjects.[2] ([15] Canton High School offered Latin but not to girls, and Freeman's schooling did not include Greek or Latin.

In a field dominated by men, she was an unlikely candidate to become a Classicist of note.[3] [314] It is not known when she started to learn ancient Greek, or from whom.[2] [316] Freeman had a working knowledge of Latin, French, German, Italian, and ancient and modern Greek. Except for French, which was taught at Canton High School, it is not known how she learnt these languages.[2] [316]

Freeman attended the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, Cardiff, which accepted female and male students by the charter granted in 1893.[2] [317] She began her degree in 1915 and studied with Professor Gilbert Norwood. Following her graduation in 1918 when she was awarded a BA, she remained at University College and was appointed Lecturer in Greek in 1919. She went on to earn an MA in 1922 and a DLitt in 1940.[4] A picture of the faculty at University College from 1922 shows 41 men and 10 women. Only one of these women, Ida Beata Saxby, had a doctorate (University of London, 1918).[2] [318] [5]

From early in her career, Freeman worked to bring Greek texts and ideas to the general public through her work in translating texts and presenting her ideas to general audiences. Freeman featured on BBC radio in 1926 presenting the works of Aristophanes.[6]

During the Second World War Freeman delivered lectures on Greece to the Ministry of Information and in the National Scheme of Education for HM Forces in South Wales and Monmouthshire. She further contributed to the war effort with her selections of translations from Greek authors which featured in The Western Mail, a Cardiff-based newspaper. These were later published as the book, It Has All Happened Before: What the Greeks Thought of their Nazis (1941). Her publications Voices of Freedom (1943), What They Said at the Time: A Survey of the Causes of the Second World War (1945) and her work with the Philosophical Society of England, where she acted as Supervisor of Studies from 1948 to 1952 before becoming the Chairman in 1952, are further testimony to her desire to make Greek ideas accessible through translation. Freeman resigned from the university in 1946 in order to pursue her research and writing.[7]

Fiction-writing career[edit]

Freeman enjoyed success as a writer of fiction and wrote under the pseudonyms Mary Fitt (1936–60), Stuart Mary Wick (1948; 1950), Clare St. Donat (1950) and Caroline Cory (1956).[8] In 1926, in addition to her study The Work and Life of Solon, Freeman published a collection of short stories The Intruder and Other Stories and her first novel Martin Hanner. A Comedy. In 1936 she chose the pseudonym Mary Fitt for her mysteries, writing 27 books and a number of short stories, many of which feature detective Inspector (later Superintendent) Mallett. She also wrote twelve children's stories and T'other Miss Austen (1956), a study of Jane Austen.[9]

In recent years Freeman's work has been re-assessed, especially in the light of queer traditions in women's writing, and new editions of her short stories are planned.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Formerly Canton High School, now Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Cardiff

From some time in the 1930s until her death Freeman lived with her lifelong partner, Dr Liliane Marie Catherine Clopet (1901-1987), a GP and author, at Lark's Rise, a house on Druidstone Road in St Mellons (now a district of Cardiff).[1] [12] Freeman dedicated all her novels (written as Freeman, rather than Fitt) to Clopet from This Love (1929) onwards. The presentation copy of The Work and Life of Solon has survived, which Freeman dedicated to Clopet, dated to 14 July 1926.[13] Freeman's inscription includes a slight misspelling of Clopet's name, which has been thought to indicate that Freeman and Clopet were in the early stages of their relationship.[13] Freeman died in 1959 in St Mellons at the age of 61. Clopet considerably outlived Freeman, dying in 1987 in Newport.[12]


Academic publications[edit]

  • 1926 The Work and Life of Solon, with a translation of his poems, Cardiff, University of Wales Press Board. OCLC 756460254[14]
  • 1941 It Has All Happened Before: What the Greeks Thought of their Nazis, London, F. Muller Ltd.
  • 1943 Voices of Freedom, London, F. Muller Ltd.
  • 1945 What They Said at the Time: A Survey of the Causes of the Second World War, London, F. Muller Ltd.
  • 1946 The Pre-Socratic Philosophers; a companion to Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Oxford, Blackwell. OCLC 54961908
  • 1946 The Murder of Herodes and Other Trials from the Athenian law courts, London, MacDonald. OCLC 607833964
  • 1947 The Greek way: an Anthology. Translations from verse and prose, London, MacDonald. OCLC 577963906
  • 1947/48 Ancilla to the pre-Socratic philosophers: a complete translation of the fragments in Diels, Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Oxford and Cambridge, Mass., Blackwell and Harvard University Press. OCLC 706866300
  • 1948 The Philoctetes of Sophocles, a modern version, London, Muller. OCLC 10111365
  • 1950 Greek city-states, London, Macdonald; New York, W.W. Norton. OCLC 654595269
  • 1952 God, Man and State. Greek concepts, London, Macdonald. OCLC 307525
  • 1954 The Paths of Justice, London, Lutterworth Press. OCLC 602389093
  • 1954 Everyday things in Ancient Greece, London, Batsford. A one-volume revision of Everyday Things in Homeric Greece, Everyday Things in Archaic Greece, and Everyday Things in Classical Greece by C. H. Quennell and Marjorie Quennell. 1929-32. OCLC 401803
  • 1954 The Sophists. Translation of Mario Untersteiner, I sofisti, Oxford, Blackwell. OCLC 504343285
Newspaper Cutting of an Obituary for Kathleen Freeman, dated 21 February 1959

Selected fictional publications[edit]

  • 1926 The Intruder and Other Stories, London, J. Cape.
  • 1926 Martin Hanner. A Comedy, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Co.
  • 1937 The Three Hunting Horns, London, Nicholson & Watson. OCLC 752858530
  • 1938 Expected Death, London, Nicholson & Watson. OCLC 8717293
  • 1941 Death On Herons' Mere, London, Michael Joseph. OCLC 560844590
  • 1941 Aftermath of Murder, New York, Doubleday. OCLC 13960788
  • 1946 Death and the Pleasant Voices, London, Michael Joseph. OCLC 25115981
  • 1948 And Where's Mr Bellamy?, London, Hutchinson. OCLC 16298203
  • 1941 Death and Mary Dazill, London, Michael Joseph. OCLC 11233504
  • 1950 Pity for Pamela, London, Macdonald & Co. OCLC 25115985
  • Girls Entrance, Formerly Canton High School, now Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Cardiff
    1952 Clues to Christabel, London, Pan Books. OCLC 155919411
  • 1959 Mizmaze, London, Michael Joseph. OCLC 16252800

Further reading[edit]

  • Biography and bibliography by M. Eleanor Irwin
  • How to Conceal a Female Scholar; or, the Invisible Classicist of Cardiff by Edith Hall
  • Deininger, Michelle and Claire Flay-Petty, 'University Connections and Professional Lives: S. Beryl Jones, Kathleen Freeman and Liliane Clopet', New Welsh Reader, 119 (December 2018). Snippet available at https://www.newwelshreview.com/article.php?id=2307
  • Deininger, Michelle and Claire Flay-Petty, ‘The Cash-Box and The Specimen Tin’, Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, 226 (Summer 2017).
  • Greene, W. C. (1949) 'Review: Pre-Socratic Philosophers Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers: A Complete Translation of the Fragments in Diels by Kathleen Freeman', The Classical Journal,Vol. 45, No. 1 (Oct., 1949), pp. 53–4 JSTOR 3293307
  • Irwin, M. E. (2004) 'Freeman, Kathleen (1897-1959)', in Todd, R. B ed. (2004) The Dictionary of British Classicists. Volume I, A-F, Bristol: Thoemmes Continuum, pp. 343–4
  • Irwin, Eleanor (2016) 'An Unconventional Classicist: the Work and Life of Kathleen Freeman' in ed. Rosie Wyles and Edith Hall (2016) Women classical scholars : unsealing the fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly (Oxford University Press)[3][2]
  • Turner, Nick (2019). "Miss Fitt's Misfits: Mary Fitt and the Case of the Vanished Crime Writer". Clues: A Journal of Detection. 37 (2): 105–14.


  1. ^ a b For a brief note on Liliane Clopet, her career and her writings see Biography and bibliography by M. Eleanor Irwin and How to Conceal a Female Scholar; or, the Invisible Classicist of Cardiff by Edith Hall.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "WOMEN CLASSICAL SCHOLARS: Unsealing the Fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly - Classics for All". Classics for All. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b Women classical scholars : unsealing the fountain from the Renaissance to Jacqueline de Romilly. Wyles, Rosie and Hall, Edith (First ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom. 2016. ISBN 978-0191038297. OCLC 964291395.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Irwin (2004), 343.
  5. ^ Saxby, Ida Beata (1918). Some conditions affecting the growth and permanence of desires (Thesis).
  6. ^ "Issue 162". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  7. ^ Irwin (2004), 343-4.
  8. ^ Irwin (2004), 344.
  9. ^ For a comprehensive list of Freeman's writings see Biography and bibliography by M. Eleanor Irwin.
  10. ^ "The Association for Welsh Writing in English Annual Conference 2016" (PDF). 2016. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  11. ^ "Dr Michelle Deininger - People - Cardiff University". Cardiff University. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Kathleen Freeman". www.utsc.utoronto.ca. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  13. ^ a b "The Work and Life of Solon. With a Translation of his Poems. by FREEMAN, Kathleen.: (1926) Signed by Author(s) | Peter Harrington. ABA/ ILAB". www.abebooks.co.uk. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  14. ^ Walker, E. M. (1927). "The Work and Life of Solon - The Work and Life of Solon. With a translation of his Poems. By Kathleen Freeman, M.A., Lecturer in Greek, University of South Wales, Monmouthshire. Pp. 236. Cardiff: The University of Wales Press Board; London: Humphrey Milford, 1926. Cloth, 10s. net". The Classical Review. 41 (1): 17–19. doi:10.1017/S0009840X00031437. ISSN 1464-3561.

External links[edit]