Thursday, 17 November 2016

Week 46: Tackling the Impossible

There are all kind of wonderful hints and tips found online to help people research their family history.  One can even find great ideas when planning a family reunion or questions to ask your older relatives.  One of the questions is “If you could spend time with one person in the family tree, who would it be and why?”

There are so many that I would love to meet and ask a gazillion questions, but there is one that keeps drawing my attention over and over and over again.  She fascinates me!

Gwynedd Marion Palin was born in Lemington, Warwickshire July 1877 to William Dickenson Palin and Marion Smith.  She was baptised in Colwyn, Denbighshire and in the 1881 census she is living in Croxton, Cambridgeshire.   In the 1891 census they are now at Meole Brace, Shropshire.


According to the teachers certificate we found online, Gwen started teaching art in 1900 and in the 1901 census we find her at the school in Wantage, Berkshire and her occupation is teacher.

In the 1911 census Gwen is still a teacher and now living in Bristol, which agrees with what is seen on her teacher’s certificate.  Gwen seemed quite close to her cousins and we can find a few trips that she has made coming to Canada for a visit and one to South Africa.  Family and staying connected was obviously important to Gwen given the fact that every Christmas she had sent out many Christmas cards.   That may not seem like a big deal to you, however all the cards she sent were homemade.  We all a few examples of these wonderful cards online.
So in 1936, Gwen would be 59 years of age and when most people would think of retiring, but not our Gwen!  She retired her job at Colston then started to teach in Srinagar, India.  Gwen not only loved art but also travel as we can see by the number of trips that we have found.

We are also fortunate to have a couple of the letters that she has written home.   In one letter dated 1942 she talks about teaching the boys artwork.
        "I rack my brains to think of what to give them to draw, if interested they are angels but not exactly so when things are a bit dull and one can't always arrange to draw aeroplanes or battleships.  The war is their chief thrill.  Just now they are illustrating the ancient mariner but thought me too bad when I would not allow the ships to be battleships."
Gwynedd did the above as part of her portfolio for her art degree
Gwen also wrote in one of her letters that she was asked to do some pictures of wildflowers for a travel book.  I have since purchased that book that was printed in 1963 and have copies of those pictures online.

In another letter dated 1950, Gwen wrote that she was asked to do some pictures of eye diseases for an eye doctor.  Since many of the country people were illiterate the hope was that the pictures could warn the people of the diseases.  I have not been able to find these as of yet.

Also in the 1942 letter Gwen was sending money back home for Christmas.  She hoped that Dora would not reject the gift thinking it was too much.  Gwen went on to explain that she had sold more of her paintings.  I would love to see those that she sold! In a letter dated 1956, Gwen states that she just did a large picture of a bunch of flowers for the UK Commission office in Delhi.  I have not found that either.  I think I have to go to India!

I just recently found where she did the artwork/cover for a little book about the Mission School.  The book is called "Tackling the Impossible" and is about the history of the schools.  You can find the book here.


When Gwen finally did retire which I believe was in 1958, at the age of 81, she had moved in with her cousin Dora in Gloucester.  She died there September 29 1970.  

What an amazing woman!  All that travelling and on her own!  In one of her letters she wrote about taking jaunts and seeing the Indian countryside and of course sketching it.  It is also mentioned in the above book as well.


We have 50 examples of her artwork already online.  If anyone has something else of hers please take a picture of it and send it to me!


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