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Sheila Fletcher

Sheila Fletcher was an outstanding and highly original historian of women's education and of women's lives. She published her first historical work at the age of 56, but her books combine scholarship, wit and readability. She was born in Mansfield in 1924, her father of Huguenot, and her mother of Scottish, descent. She read History at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, and in 1944 went on to work at the Ministry of Education, where she remained until 1951. Her long-term interest in women's education, her sense of character and her writing ability came together in Victorian Girls: Lord Lyttelton's daughters, the book for which she is likely to be remembered. Allowed a full run of the Lyttelton archives, the wonderfully rich sources and Fletcher's remarkable eye for detail led to a compelling book. Before she died in 2001, she was working on a last book, on Mary Gladstone, the daughter of the prime minister.