Seeking information on Edith Maud Cook

Posts: 2
Joined: Thu May 31, 2018 9:11 am

Seeking information on Edith Maud Cook

Postby GemLThompson » Thu May 31, 2018 10:44 am

Hello everyone,
I'm researching a book on Edith Maud Cook who was the first British woman to fly, and I'm specifically curious to know if anyone knows of her flying at any meetings between January and July 1910. I came across a news article from May 1910 yesterday that stated she had "gained experience at several meetings on the Continent". Might she have have flown non competitively?
She was studying at Bleriot's school at Pau under the name Viola Spencer-Kavanagh.
By the way, fantastic site, I got lost looking at all the meetings yesterday, you have so much information here!
Thanks ever so

Posts: 130
Joined: Thu May 02, 2013 1:35 pm

Re: Seeking information on Edith Maud Cook

Postby Anders » Thu May 31, 2018 9:34 pm

That's an interesting project!

I made a quick search in the 1910 aviation magazines that I have access to in digital format. It seems that "Miss Spencer" or "Miss Spencer-Kavanagh" disappeared from their pages around the end of March 1910. This was around the start of the 1910 meeting season, with the meetings in Cannes, Biarritz, Niort and La Crau all starting on 27 March. Before that, there was some coverage about her practising on Blériots, apparently beginning at the Blériot school in Pau in mid-December 1909, then continuing at the flying school of Claude Grahame-White, also in Pau. I can provide you with the texts, if you want.

Since our coverage of the 1910 meetings has almost reached the date of her untimely death I think I can say with some confidence that she didn't fly at any of the European meetings of 1910. She might of course very well have attended as a spectator, though.

Thanks for the nice words about the site!

Posts: 2
Joined: Thu May 31, 2018 9:11 am

Re: Seeking information on Edith Maud Cook

Postby GemLThompson » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:30 am

Dear Anders,

Firstly, thank you so much for replying, you wouldn't believe how many people haven't!
Secondly, I would absolutely love digital copies of anything you have that mentions her. Sometimes the smallest bits of information can help tie a bit of the tale together, and the people around her all have fascinating aspects that should be weaved in.
I have to say I think I'm still going to place her in a couple of meetings in the book, as I want to share just how extraordinary these events were. Your site has given me so much feel and flavour of them as well as the detail so like a delicious dish I want lots of other people to take a bite too! If it ever gets published you will of course be credited.
Thanks again for your help :D

Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2020 11:13 am

Re: Seeking information on Edith Maud Cook

Postby ViolaSpencer » Thu Dec 24, 2020 12:08 pm

I see that your post was over two years ago but I thought I would reply in case you are still interested.

Edith Maud Cook was my 3 x great aunt (her brother Charles was my 2 x great grandfather). I have been researching Edith for the last 17 years or so and it was my initial research and piecing together the evidence that helped to her finally being recognised as the first British female pilot. Due to a mixture of work commitments and health I have been unable to fully commit myself to the level of research warranted (although I am still actively researching when I can). However a tremendous effort and research on Edith has instead been carried out by the Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group and she features in their museum at Kesgrave near Ipswich, Suffolk. Effectively they have taken and moved the research on far more than I could have achieved by myself. Thanks to their marvellous efforts a headstone was erected in July 2010 at Edith's grave in Coventry, and I attended the ceremony. I imagine though that you are familiar with this group?

Please note that some recent published information about Edith has been incorrect and thus should be verified at source. In a recent book 'Secret Ipswich' published in 2015 the author erroneously states that aged 15 she was a domestic servant at 125 Bramford Lane with her widowed mother and wrongly goes on to describe her as a poorly educated servant. This is not the correct Edith Cook! it would seem a quick search of the 1891 census had been carried out and a the wrong individual selected purely on the basis of being called Edith M Cook. In fact Edith's father, James Wells Cook did not die until 1904. James Wells Cook had his own business and owned several properties in Ipswich, the family most likely falling within at least the lower middle class category, and the children receiving a good education for that time. In 1891 Edith is aged 12 and living at 27 Foundation Street with both her parents and she is described as a scholar.

The Cook family appear to have had theatrical connections and a tendency to experiment with the new ideas and technology of the time. Edith's brother Charles (my 2 x great grandfather) aside from his main job amongst over things experimented with colour photography and invented a type of coloured theatre light. They are a very fascinating family to research.

I hope the book is going well and I would be very interested in buying a copy if it gets published.

Return to “The First Air Races - Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest