Kathleen Scott

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The Lady Kennet

Kathleen Scott.jpg
Scott in 1910
Edith Agnes Kathleen Bruce

(1878-03-27)27 March 1878
Died25 July 1947(1947-07-25) (aged 69)
London, England
Alma mater
(m. 1908; died 1912)

(m. 1922)
ChildrenPeter Scott
Wayland Young, 2nd Baron Kennet

Edith Agnes Kathleen Young, Baroness Kennet, FRBS (née Bruce; formerly Scott; 27 March 1878 – 25 July 1947) was a British sculptor. Trained in London and Paris, Scott was a prolific sculptor, notably of portrait heads and busts and also of several larger public monuments. These included a number of war memorials plus statues of her first husband, the Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott. Although the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes her as "the most significant and prolific British women sculptor before Barbara Hepworth", her traditional style of sculpture and her hostility to the abstract work of, for example Jacob Epstein and Henry Moore, has led to a lack of recognition for her artistic achievements.

Kathleen Scott was the mother of Sir Peter Scott, the painter and naturalist and of the writer and politician Wayland Young from her second marriage to Edward Hilton Young.


Early life[edit]

Born at Carlton in Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, Kathleen Scott was the youngest of the eleven children of the Church of England clergyman Lloyd Stuart Bruce (1829–1886) and his first wife Jane Skene (c. 1828–1880), an amateur artist.[1] An orphan by the age of eight, Scott was brought up by a relative, William Forbes Skene, in Edinburgh where she attended St George's School before being sent to boarding schools in England including a convent school run by nuns.[1][2]

Paris and Macedonia[edit]

Scott studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1900 to 1902.[3] Then, with two friends from the Slade, Jessie Gavin and Eileen Gray, Scott enrolled at the Académie Colarossi in Paris.[3][4] Although she had taken some modelling classes at the Slade, at the Académie Colarossi Scott concentrated on sculpture and within three months had a statuette of a mother and child accepted for the Paris Salon, where it won a medal.[1] She was befriended by Auguste Rodin who, although he was not formally taking students at the time, agreed to mentor her and for Scott to visit his studio on a regular basis.[3][1] In Paris, Scott also met Aleister Crowley, who wrote several poems about her, Gertrude Stein, the photographer Edward Steichen, Isadora Duncan and, very briefly, Pablo Picasso.[1] Scott and Duncan became friends and in 1903 travelled to Belgium and the Netherlands together.[1]

In December 1903, following the Ilinden uprising Scott joined a relief mission to Macedonia, undertaking logistic duties and some basic nursing work at refugee camps.[2] There, in February 1904, Scott fell ill with a life-threatening bout of influenza and, possibly, typhoid.[1] When she recovered she decided to return to Paris and boarded a freighter for Marseilles but, finding herself to be the only women on the ship, disembarked at Naples and spent some months in Florence before returning to Paris and reopening her studio.[1] Scott spent the summer of 1906 at Noordwijk in the Netherlands supporting a pregnant Isadora Duncan and then spent some months on an island near Methana in Greece before moving to London.[1]

Marriage to Robert Falcon Scott[edit]

In London, Scott took a flat in Cheyne Walk and made a series of portrait busts, mostly of young men.[1] She became acquainted with George Bernard Shaw, Max Beerbohm and J. M. Barrie, whose former home she later bought. At one point she became seriously ill with an abdominal cyst and was thought unlikely to live.[1] Scott recovered and subsequently assisted her upstairs neighbour, a district maternity nurse, on house calls to deliver babies.[1]

In October 1907 she met Captain Robert Falcon Scott at a tea party having briefly seen him at a lunch hosted by Mabel Beardsley several months earlier.[1] The two spent ten days together before he left London on Naval duties but within a month they had decided to marry.[1] Their wedding was on 2 September 1908, in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace with Rodin among the 150 guests.[1] The couple took a house on Buckingham Palace Road in London and within a year their son Peter Scott, who became famous in painting and conservation, was born.[1]

Kathleen and Robert Falcon Scott aboard the Terra Nova, 1910

In July 1910, she accompanied her husband to New Zealand to see him off on his journey to the South Pole and in October that year they spent a fortnight together at Lyttleton. on the South Island, before Captain Scott and his crew departed on 29 November.[1] Kathleen Scott returned to England and, after extended stop-overs in Australia and Egypt, arrived at Dover in February 1911.[1] It has been suggested that, in her husband's absence, she had a brief affair with the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen.[5] This has been denied by others.[6]

In London Kathleen Scott created portrait busts and heads of various friends and relatives and also worked on a statuette of Florence Nightingale while supporting fund-raising exercises for the Antarctic expedition.[1] She received her first commission for a public monument, a life-size statue of Charles Rolls, which was unveiled in April 1912.[1] When Rolls's family lent Scott some of his clothing for her model, she was shocked to find they had included blood-stained items from his fatal air crash.[1] During 1912 she also created portrait busts of, among others, the Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, Fridtjof Nansen, Compton Mackenzie plus a series of figures of bishops for the chapel at Winchester College and a sculpture of a baby for a hospital.[1] At the end of the year she began working on a statuette of her husband.[1]

Kathleen Scott decided to travel to New Zealand to meet her husband on his return from Antarctica. She left Liverpool on 4 January 1913 for New York, then travelled by train to New Orleans and El Paso and went camping in Mexico before sailing from California to Tahiti.[1] The bodies of Captain Scott and his companions were discovered on the 12 November 1912 and the news reached London on 11 January 1913[1] with a memorial service, attended by King George V, being held at St Paul's Cathedral on 14 February 1913.[1][7] Five days later a wireless message finally reached the ship Kathleen Scott was on and she was informed of her husband's death.[1] She continued on to New Zealand where she was given the diaries and letters which had been recovered when her husband's body had been found.[1][8]

On her return to London Scott, and her son, were the subject of intensive public and press attention which she tried to counter by embarking on a concentrated period of work.[8] She began work on large statues of Captain Scott, Asquith and Captain Edward Smith.[1] In August 1913 she spent some time in Andorra and in 1914 she went to North Africa. After trekking in the Sahara, Scott returned to Britain shortly before World War I began.[1]

World War I[edit]

Statue of Robert Falcon Scott, Christchurch, New Zealand (photographed before it was damaged in the 2011 earthquakes)

During World War I, Scott initially set aside sculpture and worked in a variety of other roles to support the British and Allied war effort. She helped to set up an ambulance service for the French army by transporting vehicles to northern France and raised money and recruited volunteers to support the establishment of a hospital at the Chateau d'Arc-en-Barrois where she subsequently worked for a time.[1] Scott then worked on the assembly benches of a Vickers electronics factory at Erith in south London.[1] In England she also worked on three statues connected with the Terra Nova expedition.[9] The first to be commissioned, by the mayor of Cheltenham, was her statue of Edward Wilson which was unveiled in July 1914.[9] Her statue of Scott in his naval greatcoat with a husky at his feet was commisssioned by officers of the Portsmouth naval base and dockyards and was unveiled in February 1915.[9] Her bronze statue of Captain Scott was unveiled in central London in November 1915, although Scott did not attend the ceremony and spent the day at the Vickers factory.[9] In March 1916 Scott travelled, via Paris and Rome, to the quarry in Carrara, Italy where she carved the white marble statue of Captain Scott which was erected at Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1917.[1] In 1917, Scott served as a private secretary to Sir Matthew Nathan in the Ministry of Pensions.[2] She resigned that post towards the end of 1917 but resumed working for the Ministry in Paris for a short while.[1]

During October 1918 Scott began working at the Queen's Hospital in Sidcup, creating masks and facial models of wounded patients for the plastic surgeons there, including Harold Gillies, to use in planning their reconstruction operations.[10][11][12]


Scott visited Paris immediately the war ended and worked to promote the formation of the League of Nations.[1] She continued to receive considerable press coverage for her dignified manner as the widow of a national hero while continuing to work as a sculptor.[2] She received numerous commissions for portraits, war memorials and regimental pieces and had three works shown at the Royal Academy in London in 1919.[1] Throughout the inter-war years she had six significant solo exhibitions and continued to regularly show new works at the Royal Academy, with at least one piece shown there every year, except once, between 1920 and 1940.[2][1] Early in 1920 she visited Italy and during 1921 undertook an extended trip to the United States, Panama, Cuba and Ecuador.[1] During the early 1920s, along with many smaller pieces and statuettes, Scott made a large portrait bust of David Lloyd George, created the Thinking Soldier war memorial for Huntingdon and the large male nude, modelled by the 22 year old Arnold Lawrence, which is now outside the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge.[1][13]

Kathleen Scott, 1923

The Lawrence statue was one of several idealised sculptures of young male nudes that Scott created throughout her career.[13] The Lawrence figure was originally designed by Scott as a war memorial and was exhibited several times at major exhibitions in London and Paris under different titles, such as Youth and These had most to give.[13] Although it won a medal at the 1925 Paris Salon the work failed to sell and Scott donated it to the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. Despite initial opposition from the Institute's board of management, the statue now known as May Eternal Light Shine Upon Them, was erected on the forecourt of the Institute's new building in 1934 where it serves as a memorial to the 1911–1912 Antarctic Expedition.[13][14]

In November 1919 Scott met Edward Hilton Young, an M.P with a distinguished war record, and they married in March 1922, the ceremony taking place in the crypt of the Palace of Westminster.[3][1] Later the same year the couple attended the Hague conference on trade with Russia together.[1] Her second son, Wayland Hilton Young, who became a writer and politician, was born the following year. Marriage to a politician suited Scott who had long counted several leading statesmen, most notably Asquith but also Lloyd George, Austen Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin, among her social circle. Asquith, even when Prime Minister, frequently visited Scott's studio and regularly wrote to her.[1] Her bust of Asquith is in the Tate collection in London.[15]

From 1927 Scott and her family lived at Leinster Corner near Lancaster Gate in central London overlooking Kensington Gardens, in a house once owned by J. M. Barrie. The property had a coach-house, which she converted into a two-storey high studio, and a large garden where she worked on monumental pieces in the open air.[1] These included a larger than life-size bronze statue of Baron Delamere, on a ten foot base, costing £2,000, for Nairobi, Kenya.[1]

Later life[edit]

Scott's 1929 solo exhibition at the Greatorex Gallery in central London received favourable press reviews and included portrait sculptures of, among others, Lord Reith, Viscount Simon and Anthony Bernard.[1] Throughout the 1930s, despite bouts of ill health, Scott continued to work and travel. She visited Italy in 1930 and 1936, attended the Paris Salon in 1932 and, most years spent some weeks in Switzerland with her sons.[1] She created a plaque depicting Queen Mary for the ocean liner of the same name, made busts of George V and Neville Chamberlain, a memorial for Poets' Corner and a statue of the actor Sabu.[1]

Scott's work was in great demand in the years preceding the Second World War. Between 1935 and 1940 she produced a monumental nude figure originally entitled The Strength Within and later England, plus busts of Montague Norman, George Bernard Shaw and the Prince of Wales.[1] She was the subject of BBC Television's first programme on sculpture in 1937 and the following year a illustrated volume, Homage. A Book of Sculptures was published with text by Stephen Gwynn.[2][13] At the start of World War II, Scott volunteered to work with plastic surgeons as she had done in World War I but was not called upon although she did host a number of evacuee children at her country cottage in Norfolk near Fritton Lake for a short time.[1]

Throughout her life, Scott remained a traditional sculptor and worked independently of contemporary artistic developments such as modernism and abstraction. Described by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as "the most significant and prolific British women sculptor before Barbara Hepworth", her traditional style of sculpture and her hostility to the abstract work of, for example Henry Moore and, especially, Jacob Epstein.[2] This coupled, with the media emphasis on her being Captain Scott's widow, has led to a subsequent lack of recognition for her artistic career.[2][16]

Scott died, from leukaemia, at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, near to her Lancaster Gate home in July 1947. Her funeral service was held at West Overton in Wiltshire where a commemorative plaque is sited.[2] A memorial exhibition of her work was held at the Mansard Gallery in 1947 and two years later her autobiography, Self Portrait of An Artist was published.[17] Scott's grandchildren include the artist Emily Young and the writer Louisa Young, her biographer.

Awards and memberships[edit]


In 1913, Scott was granted the rank (but not the style) of a widow of a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. This meant that, for the purposes of establishing official precedence, she was treated as if she were the widow of such a knight. However, she was not entitled to be called Lady Scott merely by virtue of this (although she often was), and it did not amount to Captain Scott being posthumously knighted.[2][10] When her second husband was created Baron Kennet on 15 July 1935, she gained the title Baroness Kennet.[16]

In popular culture[edit]

Scott was played by the actress Diana Churchill in the 1948 Ealing Studios film Scott of the Antarctic, with John Mills as her husband. In 1985, she was played by Susan Wooldridge in the television miniseries The Last Place on Earth, from Central Independent Television, with Martin Shaw as her husband. A BBC Radio play, Imitations by Michael Butt, was based on the friendship between Scott and George Bernard Shaw, who frequently sat for her.[1]

Selected public works[edit]

Image Title / subject Location and
Date Type Material Dimensions Designation Wikidata Notes
Charles Stewart Rolls, aviator - geograph.org.uk - 824750.jpg Charles Rolls Marine Parade, Dover 1911 Statue on pedestal Bronze and stone [19]
Captain Smith Statue.jpg
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Captain Edward Smith Beacon Park, Lichfield 1914 Statue on pedestal with plaque Bronze and Cornish granite Grade II Q26482574 [19][20]
Edward Wilson Cheltenham.jpg
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Edward Wilson The Promenade, Cheltenham 1914 Statue on pedestal Bronze and stone Grade II Q26667370 [19][21]
Robert Scott sculpture.jpg
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Robert Falcon Scott College Road, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard 1915 Statue on pedestal with plaque Bronze and granite Grade II Q26562141 [22][23]
Statue of Robert Falcon Scott, London.JPG
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Robert Falcon Scott Waterloo Place, London 1915 Statue on pedestal with plaque Bronze and granite Statue 3m; pedestal 3.4m Grade II Q27084830 [19][9][24]
Scott Statue, Christchurch, New Zealand.jpg
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Statue of Robert Falcon Scott Christchurch, New Zealand 1917 Statue on pedestal and steps Marble and stone Category II Q7437304 [25]
Penddelw David Lloyd George (crop).jpg David Lloyd George Lloyd George Museum, Llanystumdwy 1921 Bust on pillar Bronze [19]
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May Eternal Light Shine Upon Them Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge 1922 Statue on pedestal Bronze and stone [14][26][27]
Huntingdon War Memorial (geograph 5256353).jpg
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The Thinking Soldier war memorial Market Square, Huntingdon 1923 Statue on pedestal Bronze and stone Grade II Q26676626 [28][29][30]
St Dunstan-in-the-West, head of Lord Northcliffe.jpg
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Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe St Dunstan-in-the-West, Fleet Street, London 1930 Bust on pedestal Bronze and stone Grade I Q30316413 Architect, Edwin Lutyens[19][31]
Bust Scott Geograph-1422431-by-Keith-Edkins.jpg
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Robert Falcon Scott Scott Polar Institute, Cambridge 1934 Bust in circular niche Bronze Grade II Q2747894 [27][32]
Bust of Adam Lindsay Gordon, Westminster Abbey 01.jpg
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Adam Lindsay Gordon Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London 1934 Bust Stone [33]
GOC Welwyn Garden City 002 Ad Astra (49445680192).jpg Ad Astra The Campus, Welwyn Garden City c. 1940 Statue on pedestal Bronze and brickwork [19]

Other works[edit]

  • A small bronze of the Indian actor Sabu which is now missing, after a theft.
  • A larger than life-size statue of Thomas Cholmondeley, 4th Baron Delamere. It was initially situated in Nairobi, Kenya, but is now in the Soysambu Conservancy, near Nakuru, Kenya.
  • Here Am I, Send Me, a bronze figure of a nude boy raising his arm as if volunteering. Following World War I, Scott made two casts of the figure as war memorials, one for West Downs School and one for Oundle School which were her son Peter's schools. When West Downs closed, the memorial was relocated to WWT Slimbridge, the nature reserve he had established.[34][35][36][37][38]
  • A memoral plaque to Captain J. M. T. Richie at the church of St Peter & St Paul at Medmenham in Buckinghamshire.[39]
  • A large standing statue, c. 1928, with arms folded and head bowed, of Edwin Montagu, former Secretary of State for India. Originally erected in Kolkata in 1931, the statue was subsequently relocated to the grounds of Flagstaff House, Barrackpore.[40][41][42]
  • The Royal Collection holds Scott's 1935 bust of King George V while the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich in London has her head and shoulders figure of George VI.[43][44]
  • Bronze bust of Robert Falcon Scott, commissioned by the Devonport Corporation c. 1913-14, and displayed at the Stoke Damerel Community College in Plymouth.[45]
  • Three works by Scott are in the collection of London's National Portrait Gallery, and she is also the subject of several photographic portraits there.[46]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax Louisa Young (1995). A Great Task of Happiness. The Life of Kathleen Scott. Macmillan, London. ISBN 0-333-57838-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Mark Stocker (25 May 2006). "Scott, nee Bruce, (Edith Agnes) Kathleen, Lady Scott [other married name (Edith Agnes) Kathleen Young, Lady Kennet, known as Kathleen Kennet]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34283. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 1 December 2021. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ a b c d e f James Mackay (1977). The Dictionary of Western Sculptors in Bronze. Antique Collectors' Club. ISBN 0902028553.
  4. ^ Frances Stonor Saunders (21 July 2001). "The house that Eileen built". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  5. ^ Roland Huntford (2001). Nansen. Abacus /Duckworth. p. 566–568. ISBN 0-349-11492-7.
  6. ^ Max Jones (2003). The Last Great Quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic Sacrifice. Oxford University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0192805706.
  7. ^ Maev Kennedy (29 March 2012). "Captain Scott's doomed polar expedition remembered at St Paul's". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  8. ^ a b Zoe Young (8 April 2013). "Journey of Discovery". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  9. ^ a b c d e Philip Ward-Jackson (2011). Public Sculpture of Britain Volume 1: Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Liverpool University Press / Public Monuments & Sculpture Association. ISBN 978-1-84631-662-3.
  10. ^ a b "Lady Kathleen Scott FRBS (1878–1947)". Royal Society of Sculptors. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  11. ^ Helen Briggs (21 December 2011). "Plastic pioneers: How war has driven surgery". BBC News. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  12. ^ Caroline Alexander (2007). "Faces of War". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 29 December 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d e Jeremy Warren (2019). "These had most to give". National Trust. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  14. ^ a b Mark Stocker (2 September 2013). "These had most to give: Kathleen Scott's sculpture at the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge". Polar Record. 51: 49–57. doi:10.1017/S0032247413000570. S2CID 131218519. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  15. ^ "The Rt. Hon. H.H. Asquith c. 1912-13". Tate. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  16. ^ a b Pauline Rose (23 November 2020). "A look at Britain's neglected professional women sculptors". Art UK. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  17. ^ David Buckman (2006). Artists in Britain Since 1945 Vol 2, M to Z. Art Dictionaries Ltd. ISBN 0-953260-95-X.
  18. ^ "The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers". Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951. Glasgow University. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Jo Darke (1991). The Monument Guide to England and Wales. Macdonald Illustrated. ISBN 0-356-17609-6.
  20. ^ Historic England. "John Smith Statue, Museum Gardens (Grade II) (1187361)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  21. ^ Historic England. "Statue of Edward Wilson approx 80 Metres south west of main entrance to municipal offices (Grade II) (1387752)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  22. ^ Historic England. "Statue of Captain Scott at west end of building number 1/87C (Building 1/87C not included) (Grade II) (1272287)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  23. ^ "War Memorials Register: Captain Robert Falcon Scott (of the Antarctic)". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  24. ^ Historic England. "Statue of Captain Robert Falcon Scott (Grade II) (1357334)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  25. ^ "Captain Scott Memorial". Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  26. ^ "Scott Polar Research Institute: Buildings and grounds". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  27. ^ a b "Trail 1 - South Cambridge". Cambridge Sculpture Trails. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  28. ^ Historic England. "Huntingdon War Memorial (Grade II) (1417802)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  29. ^ "War Memorials Register: Huntingdon The Thinking Soldier". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  30. ^ Derek Boorman (1988). At the Going Down of the Sun: British First World War Memorials. William Sessions Limited. ISBN 1 85072 041 X.
  31. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West (including attached Sunday School) (Grade I) (1064663)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 December 2021.
  32. ^ Historic England. "Scott Polar Research Institute (Grade I) (1268369)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  33. ^ "Adam Lindsay Gordon". Westminster Abbey. Retrieved 19 December 2021.
  34. ^ Historic England. "West Downs School War Memorial (Grade II) (1463504)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  35. ^ "War Memorials Register: West Downs School". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  36. ^ "From "The Eye of the Wind" An Autobiography by Peter Scott". westdowns.com. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  37. ^ Alan Borg (1991). War memorials: From Antiquity to the Present. Leo Cooper. ISBN 085052363X.
  38. ^ "1914-1918 War Memorial - Here I Am, Send Me". Courtauld Institue of Art. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  39. ^ "War Memorials Register: Capt JMT Richie". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  40. ^ Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly (2021). Projecting Imperial Power: New Nineteenth Century Emperiors and the Public Sphere. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198802471.
  41. ^ "Photographic Print of Kathleen Scott sculpting statue of Edwin Montagu". Mary Evans Picture Library. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  42. ^ Mary Ann Steggles & Richard Barnes (2011). British Sculpture in India: New Views & Old Memories. Frontier Publishing. ISBN 9781872914411.
  43. ^ "Bust of King George V 1910-1936". Royal Collections Trust. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  44. ^ "George VI (1895-952)". Royal Museums Greenwich. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  45. ^ "Robert Falcon Scott" (PDF), Plymouth History Festival, 2012, retrieved 22 July 2022
  46. ^ "Kathleen Scott". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 2 December 2021.

External links[edit]