Published: 15/09/2017
ISBN: 9781788035231
Format: Paperback

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Toupie Lowther
Her life
by Val Brown

Toupie Lowther appears as a walk-on character in many biographies of Radclyffe Hall and Una Troubridge. In the years after WW1 she is invariably identified as a "Lady Barbara Lowther", however a quick look in Debrett's peerage will bring no further enlightenment. But now identified by the author as May Lowther b. 15th April 1874, the writer of this biography has been able to uncover much more of her family as well as her active and sporting life. Her father's illegitimate birth, his naval career and marriage to a Canadian young woman. Her brother Claude Lowther of Herstmonceux Castle and "Lowther's Lambs" fame in WW1.

As a young woman fencer in the early years of the 20th century and later as a popular tennis player both at home and in European tournaments, the newspapers readily report her achievements. Often with brief mentions of her sophisticated musical talent and well known passion for fast cars. Towards the end of WW1 the Hackett-Loather all Women Ambulance Unit, attached to the French army, remains unique in European history: the women drivers serving both day and night under shellfire, gas and bomb during the German Advance of 1918.

After the war a later friendship with the writer Radcliffe Hall and her partner Una Troubridge takes her on a round of clubbing and rubbing in a post war lesbian and gay London: this friendship was strangled forever after the publication of Hall's novel "The Well of Loneliness": its fiction clearly borrowed rather than invented. Her later life sees her away from London: making a new life with her goddaughter in the fine countryside of West Sussex.

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