Pearl Binder

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Pearl Binder
Photo of Pearl Binder.jpg
Born(1904-06-28)June 28, 1904
Salford, England, UK
DiedJanuary 25, 1990(1990-01-25) (aged 85)
Brighton, England, UK
EducationCentral School of Art and Design
Known forWriting, illustration
Elwyn Jones
(m. 1937; his death 1989)
; 3 children

Pearl Binder, Lady Elwyn-Jones[1] (28 June 1904[2]–25 January 1990[3]) was a British writer, illustrator, playwright,[citation needed] 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. In 1974 she became Lady Elwyn-Jones, when her husband the politician and lawyer Elwyn Jones was appointed Lord Chancellor and made a life peer, taking the title Baron Elwyn-Jones.[4]

Early life[edit]

Pearl "Polly" Binder was born in Salford. Her father was Jacob Binderevski, a Russian-Ukrainian Jewish tailor[3] who came to Britain in 1890 and shortly afterwards became a British citizen.[citation needed]


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.[5] In 1933 Binder was one of the founders of the left-wing Artists' International Association.[6]

In 1937 Binder was involved in the earliest days of television broadcasting for children.[4] Also in 1937, she co-presented Clothes-Line with the fashion historian James Laver. This live six-part series was the first television programme on the history of fashion. As she did not give birth to her daughter Josephine until 6 January 1938 – less than a month after the last episode transmitted – Pearl Binder could well have been the first heavily pregnant woman to appear on television.[7]

In the course of her life Binder travelled extensively in Russia and China, designed a musical,[8] 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.[citation needed]

Family life[edit]

In 1937 she married Elwyn Jones. They had three children: fashion historian Lou Taylor,[7] poet Dan Jones, and Mrs Josephine Gladstone.[7]


Binder died in Brighton on 25 January 1990 aged 86, seven weeks after the death of her husband.[3][9]


  1. ^ Plomley, Roy and Elwyn-Jones, Lord Frederick (17 February 1984). Desert Island Discs: Lord Elwyn-Jones. BBC. Event occurs at 38:24. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Pearl Binder",; accessed 11 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Death of Lady Elwyn-Jones". Glasgow Herald. p. 5. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Binder, Pearl". Horniman Museum and Gardens. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Pearl Binder, artist & writer". SpitalFields Life. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  6. ^ Paul Jobling and David Crowley,Graphic Design: reproduction and representation since 1800. Manchester, New York: Manchester University Press, pg. 128; ISBN 0719044669
  7. ^ a b c Taylor, Lou, Establishing Dress History, chapter 2 (Manchester 2002); ISBN 0-7190-6639-5
  8. ^ "Pearl Binder (Lady Elwyn-Jones), artist and much more". Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Jones, (Frederick) Elwyn, Baron Elwyn-Jones (1909–1989)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.