Born near Halifax in 1887, Ethel Lennard grew up in the Oxfordshire countryside where she studied at convent school before undertaking a chemistry degree at Oxford. Her lack of any prior education in science topics initially impeded her studies, however, a tutor stated that 'an unusual natural ability, combined with great zeal and determination has helped her to overcome what, in so many similar cases, has proved an insurmountable obstacle. 

Ethel had wanted to train as a doctor, but as the family was opposed, she set about gaining the necessary experience for a career as a factory inspector. From when she graduated, in 1910, she appears to have taken sanitary inspectors' examinations and offered volunteer lectures for the WEA. Ethel's older brother, Reg, was at this time an Oxford lecturer, and it is probable that he was the source of her introduction to the WEA. 

In January 1913, The Highway reports her teaching an economics class at High Wycombe and a history class at Ascott-under-Wychwood, a village with a rich tradition of radicalism, women's education and, at this period, with a pioneering mother and baby clinic. Ethel began working as a factory inspector in 1914 and was soon moved up north. In 1917, she married a Leeds surgeon and gave up her post. She had four children. In later years Ethel ran a small farm and involved herself in parish and rural district council work for the Labour Party. Her oldest son, and two of her granddaughters, followed in her footsteps, taking adult education and teaching WEA classes. 

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Kay Field

Digital Marketing Officer

Kay is the Digital Marketing Officer at the WEA.