Rachel Pinney

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

Rachel Pinney (11 July 1909 – 19 October 1995) was a British doctor who pioneered therapeutic approaches to children's development in the 1960s which she termed Creative Listening, and Children's Hours. From 1927- 1934 she was a member of the clandestine Ferguson’s Gang, a group of eccentric philanthropists who donated money to the National Trust and other rural conservation appeals. In her alter-ego as Red Biddy, Rachel, cloaked and masked delivered Ferguson’s Gang’s first donation to the National Trust offices in 1933. The delivery of £100 in silver for the endowment of Shalford Mill to the National Trust was reported in the Times newspaper.[1][2] Unorthodox in many ways, Rachel kept a vow of silence on Wednesdays,[1] and was a committed Peace Activist.


Her father Reginald Pinney was a Major-General in the British army. She obtained a medical degree and practiced as a GP until 1961. She worked with the distinguished child therapist Dr. Margaret Lowenfeld, but never trained formally. She pioneered 'methods for conflict understanding' which she called Creative Listening, and Children's Hours, the former incorporated as a limited company in 1967.[3]

She toured Britain in the early 1960s inviting people to share their views on controversial subjects such as homosexual law reform and nuclear warfare while she used her structured listening technique.[4]

Her child techniques were widely used by experts working therapeutically with children.[3]

In 1977 Rachel went to New York and treated a four-year-old boy who had autism. This resulted in her publication 'Bobby, Breakthrough of an Autistic Child' (1983).[3]

She was briefly married to Luigi Cocuzzi with whom she had one daughter and two sons. She was a Quaker and a member of CND from 1961 and openly declared herself a lesbian in 1989.[3]

She died on 19 October 1995 aged 86.[3]


  • Bobby: Breakthrough of a Special Child, Rachel Pinney, Mcgraw-Hill Book Co (1986) ISBN 0070500924
  • Creative Listening, by Rachel Pinney


  1. ^ a b Polly Bagnall & Sally Beck (2015). Ferguson's Gang: The Remarkable Story of the National Trust Gangsters. Pavilion Books. ISBN 978-1-909-88171-6. 
  2. ^ Bagnall, Polly (2012). Ferguson- Exhibition Catalogue. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Papers of Dr Rachel Pinney". Archives Hub. University of Manchester. 2012. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  4. ^ LISTENING FOR WOLFENDEN Anticant , 17 January 2007