Freda White

I was trying to do some background research on the area of the Gard to the west of Avignon when I discovered on my shelves a book by Freda White entitled West of the Rhone.   The book gives little information as to who she was, other than the author of Three Rivers of France, a cult book to my parent’s generation.   The answer is that she was a Scot, went to Somerville, worked for the League of Nations, was assistant editor of the New Statesman during the war, and stood as a Labour candidate before turning to full-time writing in the 1950s.   She is described as ‘a small and determined figure in her trademark tweeds’.


8 thoughts on “Freda White

  1. pbmum says:

    Given that they were born within a year of each other I guess it is possible that she was at Somerville at the same time as Vera Brittain who similarly became a peace campaigner, supporter of the League of Nations and – of course – mother to Shirley Williams. Similar too, in that it is clear from the Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women that Freda White also lost a beloved brother in WWI. For women of my generation (now in our 50s) those sorts of impressive women were given form in the BBC adaptation of Brittain’s Testament of Youth starring Cheryl Campbell. I am pleased that teenage girls like my daughter have been given a new portrayal with Alicia Vikander playing Vera in the 2014 movie version. I can happily visualise Freda White in her tweeds and lacy jumpers moving across that canvas.


  2. David Price says:

    Freda White,our neighbour in Edinburgh from 62-71,was a lovely lady of regal quality but without pomp, who read about 6 books a week and seemed to know everything and everybody of interest.
    Leslie Hills (, also a neighbour, has recently written an expanded piece about her which you can find online in the Broughton History Society Newsletter No.35

  3. pbmum says:

    That Broughton History Society piece is a really lovely article. I lived in Leith in the late 1990s when my children were very small and often pounded the hilly streets of Broughton with my double buggy with attached buggy board for the third child! I love the way that Leslie Hills writes about how Freda White introduced her to a way of living a life which she hadn’t known was possible. We all need people in our lives like that.


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