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Consulting material: To consult archives and manuscripts, a full and unrestricted Bodleian reader's card (Group A) is required. You should apply for your card at the Admissions Office.

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Collection Level Description: Papers of Phoebe Somers

Reference: GB 0162 MSS. Afr. s. 2162
Title: Papers of Phoebe Somers
Dates of Creation: 1953-1972
Extent: 17 vols., 18 ff.

Language of Material: English

Administrative/Biographical History

Phoebe Somers (d 1995) was raised in Hove and trained at Brighton College of Art. For 18 years she was in charge of the art department of Berkhamsted Girls' Grammar School before moving to East Africa, where she worked [c1952-1963?], first in Kenya High School, Nairobi, then in Government-run African secondary schools in Tanzania, inspecting a number of primary schools in both territories. During this and her subsequent period in Africa, she learnt fluent Swahili and travelled widely, initially through East Africa, then through East and Central Africa, including the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, during a four month tour in 1962, the Commonwealth countries of Southern Africa in 1965, and Kenya again in 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1976. A series of paintings recording her East African impressions was exhibited at the Commonwealth Institute, 1957.

She also spent a period in England, sitting for 7 years on the Cambridge O-level Art Marking Board and accepting a lectureship at the Commonwealth Institute. She was then appointed to start an art department at a teacher training college on Mount Kenya, and began her second residence in Africa. On her final return to England she gave talks on national and local radio and undertook a series of articles, with sketches, on inhabitants of her native Sussex.

Scope and Content

Sketchbooks and sketches of travels in and inhabitants of various, mainly African locations, 1953-1972.

Administrative Information

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were purchased from Miss Somers in November 1989


Letters home, articles, photographs and drawings relating to work in the Education Service in Tanganyika and Kenya, 1953-1967 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2061); eleven boxes and one envelope of colour transparencies taken during period as an art teacher in East Africa (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2236), bought from Miss Somers in March 1995; typed extract from a letter and original letter, 1968, from Hugh Trappes-Lomax, St. Lawrence's Teacher Training College, Igoji, Kenya to Miss Somers concerning his marriage, with a photograph of the bride and groom (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 58), donated by Miss Somers on 1st June 1990; carbon copies of typescripts of broadcasts by the donor on African educational themes, 1960s, with a photograph of the donor, 1952 (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 58), donated by Miss Somers in March 1991; paintings and drawings by Miss Somers from her period as an art teacher in East Africa (ref. MSS. Afr. t. 58), purchased from her in March 1995.

Access Conditions

Bodleian reader's ticket required.

Reproduction Restrictions

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Further Information

Finding Aids

The library holds a card index of all manuscript collections in its reading room. MSS. Afr. s. 2162 and 2061 are listed as 831 and 937 in Manuscript Collections in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Accessions 1978-1994 (Oxford; Bodleian Library; 1996).

Related Units of Description

Memorandum on service in Kenya and Tanganyika as an art teacher, 1952-1963 (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1755 (138)).

Access Points

Somers | Phoebe | d 1995 | art teacher

Ethnology | Pictorial works

Zimbabwe | Description and travel | Views

Zambia | Description and travel | Views

South Africa | Description and travel | Views

Mozambique | Description and travel | Views

Canary Islands | Description and travel | Views

Austria | Description and travel | Views

Italy | Description and travel | Views

Egypt | Description and travel | Views

Aden | Description and travel | Views

Kenya | Description and travel | Views

Botswana | Description and travel | Views

Suez Canal (Egypt) | Description and travel | Views

Barcelona (Spain) | Description and travel | Views

Benelux countries | Description and travel | Views

Djibouti | Description and travel | Views

Malawi | Description and travel | Views

Tanzania | Description and travel | Views

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
12 March 2012