Friday, October 13, 2006

Kathleen Binns

More from the archaeological diggings surrounding the Swift Annual...

Kathleen Binns appeared in Swift Annual 5 and 7 (1958, 1960). No clues as to what she wrote but I've stumbled across a couple of odd things. Firstly, she was the author of some small books in a series known as The Bobbin Doffers (1962). The publisher was James Nisbet & Co. of Welwyn, Herts., and there appear to be 23 volumes in the set. There was also a booklet entitled The Bobin Doffer Handbook (1962), illustrated by Rona Munro, which was subsequently reissued as The Bobbin Doffer Reference Chart (1963). The Bobbin Doffers would seem to be a race of tiny, adventurous people, seemingly named after a process that has something to do with looms and cotton mills.

Kathleen Binns also wrote Without More Ado-- (London, Epworth Press, 1975), a book described as containing anecdotes and stories of Christian life. Whether this is full-fledged autobiography I don't know but I'll try to track down a copy. Definitely autobiographical is A Family Affair: My Bradford Childhood, 1900-1911 (Bradford Libraries & Information Service, 1988).

Kathleen Binns was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, on 11 June 1900, the daughter of Henry (a merchant) and Mabel S. Binns. She was a kindergarten teacher and seems to have written irregularly after retiring. At the age of 65 she won an essay competition on the theme of "I remember" and received a £50 cheque from author and playwright J. B. Priestley. She remained living in Bradford where she died in 1990, at the age of 90.


  1. You don't mention her Dalesman articles. She also contributed craft articles to Girl and other Annuals, also a story I think for Young Elizabethan April 1953. Some of the wartime material she left to Bradford Library was used for 'From Herstory to her story' ( )where she appears to be married but in fact she died a spinster to the best of my knowledge. I did tell them but they never changed it.

    Other articles I know of are 'I Remember FA' about the headmaster of Ackworth Quaker School for forty years, Frederick Andrews, a relation of hers. (She was chair of Ackworth Old Scholars at one time). Also she wrote an article on the Bradford Eye Hospital which described well my experience of a similar hospital.

    I corresponded with her in 1987 shortly before she died as I wanted permission to photocopy the diary & autobiography of her great-grandfather, David Binns (1799-1883)Draper of Halifax, who was the eldest brother of my great-great-grandfather Thomas (the black sheep of the family). Her grandfather Charles carried on the business of David'd other brother, George, Stuff Merchant, in Bradford and hence her faniliarity with the textile trade.

    I got a copy of Without More Ado from Amazon. Lots of short observations from her experiences, not a full-fledged autobiography but a gem for a Family Historian like myself.

    We had both Swift and Girl as children though I did not know of the relationship then.

    I thought the Bradford booklet 'A Family Affair should have included a biographical note but they didn't.

    So glad you wrote about her, thanks. (Margaret)

  2. Margaret,

    Many thanks for all the additional information; very interesting. I think I'd like to be know as a merchant of 'stuff', although I suspect that, in the textile trade, that's probably a real job description!




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