Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan

Philip Alexius de László (1869–1937)c. 1910

Birkbeck, University of London

Birkbeck, University of London
London, United Kingdom

This photograph shows a portrait of Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan by Philip Alexius de László. Helen Gwynne-Vaughan, (née Fraser, 1879-1967), was a prominent British botanist who also had a distinguished military career. In 1909 she succeeded her husband, David Thomas Gwynne-Vaughan, as Head of Department of Botany at Birkbeck College. In 1921 she became the College’s first female professor. She retired as Professor Emeritus in 1944. During the First World War, Gwynne-Vaughan was appointed Controller of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps in France, in 1917. She then served as commandant of the Women’s Royal Air Force from September 1918 to December 1919. For her service she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1919. In the Second World War she was first Chief Controller of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, from 1939-41. Gwynne-Vaughan was also active in politics. In 1907 she formed the London Women's Suffrage Society with Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. In 1923 she stood as the Conservative candidate in Camberwell North. She was also active in Girl Guides and was honoured with the Silver Fish. In 1930, Gwynne-Vaughan chaired the Guides' Sixth World Conference where the constitution of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts was agreed.

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