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In this section:     Agnes de Selincourt, Principal of Westfield College 1913-1917  

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Agnes de Selincourt, c1915.
Agnes de Selincourt, c1915.
Courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London Archives.


Agnes de Selincourt (1872-1917) was Principal of Westfield College from 1913 until 1917.

She was born in Streatham, southeast London, and was educated at Notting Hill High School. She attended Girton College, Cambridge from 1891 until 1894, where she studied French and German and earned a first class degree. From 1895-1896, she studied Oriental languages at Somerville College.

A commitment to women's education with a Christian mission was central to de Selincourt's professional life. In 1896, she founded the Missionary Settlement for University Women in Bombay, India. In 1901, she became the first Principal of Lady Muir Memorial College, Allahabad, India, and remained there until 1909.

In May 1904, de Selincourt wrote an article for the Girton Review, where she describes the early days of her work at Lady Muir College in Allahabad. She tells how teaching was given in Hindustani, the one common language amongst students from 'widely different races and antecedents'. She was 'intensely interested to watch the development of these girls' whose commitment to intellectual pursuits were an 'encouragement for the future' and the students' 'fellow-countrywomen'.

In 1913, de Selincourt succeeded Constance Maynard as Principal of Westfield College. There she continued working to support women's Christian higher education.

In 1917, her life, and term as Principal of Westfield, were cut tragically short due to a fatal cycling accident near the College. She was remembered fondly by colleagues and students at Westfield and Girton, and in India.

Memorial plaque to Agnes de Selincourt, located in the Chapel at Girton College, Cambridge.
Courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London Archives.


Papers relating to de Selincourt's work at Westfield, including letters and photographs, are held by the College Archives.


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