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Hilda Selwyn-Clarke

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Hilda Alice Selwyn-Clarke (née Browning) (1899-1967).

Born in Sevenoaks, Kent, she was the daughter of a master baker. She won a scholarship to study at grammar school and then trained as a teacher in Goldsmith's College.

She became a member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP). At the 1931 General Election she stood unsuccessfully for the ILP at Wandsworth, Clapham. In October 1934 she stood at a London County Council by-election for the ILP, also at Wandsworth, Clapham, but was defeated by circus owner Bertram Wagstaff Mills of the Municipal Reform Party.

In the autumn of 1935 she married Percy Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke. Her husband was a medical practitioner and a member of the Colonial Medical Service. Their daughter, Mary, an only child, was born in London in September 1936, and mother and daughter accompanied Dr. Selwyn-Clarke on postings to the Gold Coast, Nigeria and Hong Kong. On December 8, 1941 the Japanese invaded Hong Kong, which surrendered on Christmas Day. The family were kept out of Stanley Civilian Internment Camp so that Dr. Selwyn-Clarke could organise public health measures on behalf of Hong Kong's population. During this period Hilda helped her husband carry out both open and clandestine relief work. In May 1943 he was arrested on suspicion of spying and she and Mary were finally interned in Stanley Camp. In December 1944 Selwyn was released from prison and Hilda and Mary were transferred to another camp where they were re-united.

The British fleet arrived to re-occupy Hong Kong on August 30, 1945 and she left the Colony on September 22, her husband following about a month later. Her health was never to fully recover from the ordeals of the war, In 1947 Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke was appointed Governor of the Seychelles, which meant another separation as Hilda remained in London, living in a large flat in Wimbledon and working eight hours a day as a Labour Party activist. Her husband stood down in 1951; in the New Years' Honours list for that year he was created a Knight of the British Empire and she became known as Lady Selwyn-Clarke.

Her post-war political involvement, although wide-ranging, was influenced by her time in Hong Kong. She became joint Honorary Secretary of the China Campaign Committee and a council member of the British United Aid to China Fund. She was employed by the Fabian Colonial Bureau and worked actively on de-colonisation issues. In 1952 she was elected as a Labour Party member of the London County Council representing Fulham East. Following boundary changes in 1955 she became a councillor for Fulham, holding the seat until the county council's abolition in 1965. She died in 1967 at the age of 68 after a long period of debilitating illness that had thwarted her ambition of becoming a Labour M.P.

Some more information here [1].

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