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Ali, Shareefah Hamid (1883–? 1971), Indian social reformer
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Letter from Shareefah Hamid Ali to Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Hotel Majestic, Avenue Kléber, Place de l’Étoile, Paris.—Encloses some papers she was unable to give her in London. Has been meeting friends and seeing the sights in Paris. Is leaving for India on the 14th.



Hotel Majestic, Avenue Kléber, Place de l’Etoile, Paris
8th June 1935

My dear Mrs Pethick Lawrence

I enclose the Luxembourg Stamp papers which you wanted. I am sorry I could not find it & send it to you in London. I did so wish to say goodbye to you both (if nothing else over the telephone) but my last days in London were so full of engagements—it was a rush to get to the station in time!

I am comfortably settled in room 741 of this Hotel. Mrs Brunschwick gave an at Home for me yesterday where I met many of our French friends—specially the delegates to Istamboul

I saw the Italian Exhibition yesterday & spent hours over it. The old “Primitives” are lovely beyond words. I couldnt tear myself away from them. Miss Getty took me to see Notre Dame in the afternoon. You will be amused to hear that the caretaker of the “Treasures of the Church[”] started muttering something—on Miss Getty making enquiries—he told her “why cant our women dress in such beautiful clothes (pointing to me) they are simple & decent & beautiful”!

Miss Getty said my blue sari had got an admirer!

I had a busy time in London—but I enjoyed the work & my visits to friends very much.

I shall be leaving for India on the 14th

Goodbye My warmest greetings & love to you both

Yours affectionately
Shareefah Hamid Ali

Letter from Shareefah Hamid Ali to F. W. and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

The Residency, Satara.—Refers to their pleasant times together in England and sends photographs of her home. Encourages Mrs Pethick-Lawrence to attend the All-India Women’s Conference. Is running a class for midwives.



The Residency, | Satara.
12th October 1935 {1}

Dear Mr & Mrs Pethick Lawrence

I have been wanting to write to you for many weeks past but have not had either the leisure or the energy to do so. But you have not been out of my thoughts dear friends. My husband and I very often remember & talk of the lovely day we spent with you in your country house—& I have more recent memories of your delightful hospitality in London. I was such a nuisance losing my keys & leaving things behind!

I sent you last week—a photograph of us both—which we hope you will like & keep for our sake. I also enclose one or two pictures of our home in Satara—taken by my husband. This is rather an interesting old house—it used to be the Durbar Hall of the British Residents—in the times of the Maratha kings. We have a lovely garden which I enjoy more than anything else—we have converted it to our liking—“Indian atmosphere”!

Mrs Lawrence I do hope you will accept the All India Women’s Conference’s invitation & come out to us this cold weather? If you do please keep at least 2 weeks to be spent in our home. We are at Panchgani this week.

I am running a large “midwives” training class. We have 75 candidates & six instructors. It is intensely interesting.

With affectionate regards
yours affectionately
Shareefah Hamid Ali


{1} The date was added in the margin after most of the letter was written.

Carbon copy of a letter from Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence to Shareefah Hamid Ali

Has been receiving treatment for deafness in Switzerland and supporting her husband’s election campaign. Thanks her for the photographs (see 2/35). She will not be able to attend the conference in India, but is very interested in the progress of the women’s movement there.



24th. November. 1935.

My dear Mrs. Hamid Ali,

I am afraid you will think that I am most remiss in not having replied to your letter before. I was away in Switzerland when it came receiving treatment from a specialist for deafness, and while I was there the General Election was announced and I had to hurry home to take my part in it and support my husband’s candidature in East Edinburgh. I am so glad to say that he was elected Member of Parliament for that constituency.

I am perfectly charmed with the photographs that you send me. I think the photograph of you and your husband is delightful and most beautiful, especially of you. I was also greatly interested to see the pictures of your home. Thank you so much for sending them to me. They will serve as a very delightful remembrance of the very great pleasure it was to my husband and to me to meet you and to hear something of your wonderful work.

It is very kind of you to invite me to the Indian Conference, but I am sorry to say that my health prevents me from accepting such an attractive invitation. The treatment in Switzerland for my deafness has not up till now been a success and I am extremely deaf, and until this condition passes away I am not fit to take part in any public life at all. I believe it is only a temporary condition, but I have no idea how long it is going to last.

I shall be with you in thought at your Congress, and I shall follow your deliberations with intense interest. As you know, my whole life has been given to the woman’s movement, and there is no development of the woman’s that I follow with such interest as that in India. The movement there fulfills† all that I had hoped and dreamed of in my young days. It is so valiant and courageous, so definite and determined and at the same time so entirely free from bitterness or narrowness of conception. People in the very highest position have testified to their belief that it is the most important and most uplifting movement in India, and I am happy to think that such general acknowledgement and admiration has been accorded publicly. I trust and pray that the woman’s movement will keep itself free of all political contamination and will maintain its character and will ultimately set an ideal which will be followed by the rest of the country. India has such a very great future.

With warmest good wishes,

Yours very sincerely,

Mrs. Hamid Ali,
The Residency,


† Sic.

Letter from Lord Pethick-Lawrence to Lady Pethick-Lawrence

Office of Cabinet Delegation (as 6/153).—They are interviewing many interesting people. He and Alexander hope to visit the Taj on Sunday, and the mission have now received the required formal invitation to go Kashmir at Easter.



Office of Cabinet Delegation, The Viceroy’s House, New Delhi
April 9 (To be Posted 10th)

Dearest One

It is a refreshment to sit down before dinner & commune with you after the heat of midday & the burden of the interviews & talks. And I have just had a letter from you dated April 5 from Fways saying you have had my letters of Mch 28 & 30. I have an earlier letter (April 3) from you also to acknowledge & an enclosure from Lydia for which please give her my love & thanks. You ask whether you shall address me to 2 Willingdon Crescent or wht; it doesnt matter at all. So long as the letter comes out in the official bag it will be delivered to me by Turnbull to wherever I am. Equally I presume when I write a letter to you & send it to the India Office tht they will send it to 11 O S or to Fourways according to wht E K tells them.

We are seeing a great many interesting people both formally & informally but it is sometimes rather drowsy work listening to their soft & droning voices. Sir C P Ramaswami Aiyar (who was in the cartoon I sent you yesterday “Sir C P”) was an exception with his vigorous & determined voice, & Joshi whom we saw this afternoon was most interesting. I am sending you the latest programme. You will see we are to meet 2 women on Thursday.

We shall very soon have to be thinking in earnest about our method of tackling the main problem or problems. But of course this has in a sense been going on all the time.

I had a swim in the swimming pool yesterday evening & again tonight. It is quite a large bath & it takes the heat out of one’s body. Alexander & I hope to go to see The Taj Sunday morning. The Cashmir trip at Easter awaits an invitation from the Ruler about which there appears to be some hitch. (now resolved 10. iv. 46)

I have had nice letters from Mrs Subbarayan & also from Mrs Hamid Ali whom I think you know.

I send you an early picture of me taken at Karachi which you may nt yet have seen.

I am most interested in your Fways news & your a/c of your amazing hot weather. I do hope there are no more frosts. Here it continues to get hotter & there is a haze about all the time which makes it somewhat humid. (102º yesterday 9th)

My dear I think of you with such love.

Your own


There are a few characteristically abbreviated words, including ‘wht’ for ‘what’.

{1} PETH 6/151–2. Lady Pethick-Lawrence’s letter of 5 April does not survive.

{2} ‘April 3’ interlined. The brackets have been supplied. This letter does not survive.