Normanton, Helena (1883–1957)

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Normanton, Helena (1883–1957)

British lawyer. Born in London, England, in 1883; died in 1957; graduated from London University; studied at Dijon, France, obtaining qualifications in French language, literature and history; married Gavin Clark, in 1921.

First woman to be accepted by the Inns of Court, England (1919); second woman to be called to the Bar in England (1922); one of the first women to be named King's Counsel in England (1949); first woman to be elected to General Council of the Bar in England.

Helena Normanton graduated with firstclass honors from London University and, after studying in France, entered the Middle Temple in 1919. This made her the first woman accepted by the Inns of Court, and in 1922 she became the second woman called to the Bar (Dr. Ivy Williams was the first). Normanton practiced primarily in the Central Criminal Court, earning a reputation for "earnestness and learned quotations." In 1949, she became one of the first women to be made a King's Counsel in England and the first to be elected to the General Council of the Bar. She was influential in the International Society of Women Lawyers and the International Federation of Business and Professional Women. She became president of the Married Women's Association, causing controversy by her memorandum to the Royal Commission on Marriage and Divorce, the makeup of which she regarded as not representing the principle of "equal partnership." So strong were her feelings on this issue that she resigned, causing a split that led to the formation of a separate Council of Married Women. Normanton also wrote several books, including Sex Differentiation in Salary and Everyday Law for Women.

Jacqueline Mitchell , freelance writer, Detroit, Michigan

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Normanton, Helena (1883–1957)

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