Oral history of British science

Shirley, Stephanie (Part 2 of 15). An Oral History of British Science.

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type


  • Duration


  • Shelf mark


  • Subjects

    Computer Software

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Henley-on-Thames

  • Interviewees

    Shirley, Stephanie, 1933- (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 2: Remarks on music in childhood: Auntie introducing her to Grieg, Gramophone at foster parents; a radio concert on father's visit; father playing violin in Oswestry. Remarks on mother's move to Oswestry, Wales, living in the house of a refugee academic, with a book lined study.[03:50] Comments on mother: SS closer to and more like her father; story about sister RB's dilemma between joining mother and gaining a school scholarship; trained tailor; father civil engineer, mother housewife; hard-working, practical, frugal; unhappily married; difficult for SS to satisfy; later became a teacher; learned to love England but missed aspects of continental life; refused to return to Germany with AB, ending their marriage. [11:09] Comments on German postwar: reparations to Jewish families, involvement of mother with scheme, SS deciding she wanted nothing to do with Germany; suffering nightmares and survivors guilt, which became a motivating force. [15:07] Comments on treatment for unhappiness at Tavistock Clinic: giving date of birth as 1939, as she felt her life started then not 1933; after work sessions with Jungian Dr H Ezriel over six years; grateful for treatment; feeling unable to form relationships before treatment; difference between group and individual therapy; not talking about it much at the time due to social stigma; [21:23] feeling lucky for treatment at Tavistock; realising that problems of her own making; fear of rejection, due to Jewish background and childhood experiences. Remarks on sister dealing with her problems through involvement with children's adoption. [24:05] Remarks on moving around as a child: living near Lake Balaton and Vienna [cough]; changes between Vienna of her memory and the reality on a later visit. Remarks on: sister being bullied in Vienna because she was Jewish; limited awareness of things that were happening to her. Short discussion of trying not to do things to people as a result of this experience, reference to sister's experience. [28:35] Remarks on survivor's guilt in teens, starting work and enjoying independence. Comments on: feeling patronised by as a child, trying not to patronise people in philanthropy, Lloyd's Banks sensitive handling of refugees. [31:17] Remarks on childhood personality: fun, nicknamed 'Pickles,' had a dog, liked riddles; becoming serious in teens about avoiding poverty. Comments on childhood with Aunty and Uncle: tidy house; lots of home home grown food; ate out once a week; rationing. [34:40] Comments on Uncle: separated business and home; rose from apprentice engineer to managing director; company near to slums; SS disappointed by his attitude toward Jamaican workers; inventor, responsible for vehicle hip ring gun mounting, early folding golf caddie, vehicle sun-visor; story about his building of an air raid shelter. [41:46] Remarks on: nearby aircraft decoy, Uncle a member of Air Raid Precautions [ARP]. Short story about arrival of trunk of clothing from Germany [short pause], Uncle's construction of a cupboard, SS disliking German styles of clothing. Story about arriving at foster home in Sutton Coldfield, and Aunty making her a doll to replace one lost on journey, which was later thrown out by mother. [48:03] Remarks on limited play value of elaborate doll given by foster parents. Remarks on foster parents: in 40's, Aunty died in 60s, Uncle gave SS away at wedding, named Ruby and Hubert Albert Guy Smith. [50:35] Comments on visits to Uncle's parents in Bromley Wood: enjoyed experience of basic facilities at country cottage, such as water from pump and well; GS's sister a teacher in small village school; listening to radio that needed recharging far away. Description of Hoar Cross church, attended by SS when on holiday with Uncle's parents. [57:05] Story about argument between Aunty and sister over who she played with at school. Comments on convent school in Sutton Coldfield, which SS attended after foster parents disapproved of her developing Birmingham accent: limited element of Catholicism. [59:55] Fiend Christina. Comments on religion: spending time searching for religion, nearly being confirmed, continued interest in faiths but not for herself, more interested in spiritual than material. [01:03:24] Influence of father's ethics. [Remarks on religious instruction at school, still loving hymns and Christmas carols, appeal of Roman Catholicism rather than Church of England. Remarks on being a humanist rather than a feminist, humanist ideas when she started her business, surprised by continued influence of slavery in Caribbean and of revolution in Russia, close proximity of the past.

  • Description

    Interview with entrepreneur, computer scientist and philanthropist Dame Stephanie 'Steve' Shirley.

  • Related transcripts

    Dame Stephanie Shirley interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item