In another Page of ROOTS=SAKNES some fragments of the book "The Baltic States" are published, as an information source about Latvia that was available for the readers abroad in 1930s. Concerning the author of the book I wrote "I have no information about the author of the book - Hebe Spaull.... If you have any information about her, please, contact me."
Richard Miller informed me that he was a grandson of her brother and wrote that:
Richard also sent her photograph and some memories of his late uncle David Spaull concerning the life of Hebe Spaull:
David Spaull wrote:
Hebe Spaull was a freelance journalist. During the First World War she worked at the Ministry of Food, and was the author of one of their well-known publicity slogans of the time -- I think it was "SOS -- Save or Starve". She hoped to marry a man who was serving with the army in France. He came back from the war, but decided not to marry her. Greatly upset, she spent a year in India, where she became friends with Mrs Pandit, Nehru's mother. Back in England, she became closely involved in the work of the League of Nations (fore-runner of the UN). She started her freelance career, visiting a wide range of countries not only in Europe, but also in the Middle East, Africa and the Far East, and writing mainly about the work of the co-operative movements there. She also wrote a number of children's books about the various countries of the world, and a number of textbooks, including one about the work of the United Nations, and a dictionary of abbreviations.
At the beginning of the Second World War she was in charge of work by the National Union of Journalists to help Czech journalists to escape to this country, and to support them when they arrived here. She was made a Life Member of the NUJ not long before her death. During the Second World War she worked for a time with the BBC Monitoring Service, then based at Evesham.
Hebe was a Communist sympathiser -- never, I think, a member -- despite some frightening experiences with Communist regimes. On one pre-war visit to Leningrad she hailed a taxi to take her to the centre of the town, but was taken, instead, back to the port area. She eventually got to the town centre, but was advised by the British Consul to leave as quickly as possible. He said the taxi driver had clearly been acting for the Soviet Secret Police, the NKVD, and her safety could not be guaranteed. On another occasion, after the war, she was forced off a train in Eastern Europe during the night by Soviet soldiers who said her papers were not in order, and obliged to argue her case in a guard hut alongside the railway line. Travelling by the Trans-Siberian Express across the Soviet Union she arrived in Vladivostok with the intention of going on to Japan only to be told by Intourist that they had no record of her. They said she had no tickets - either to go on, or to go back. She didn't have enough money to buy another ticket, and eventually persuaded them to admit that she'd paid already. (She had another, less sinister, fright on the same journey. The Trans Siberian Express stopped in the middle of nowhere, and seeing that other passengers had got off she climbed down too, and began picking flowers. She didn't hear the warning that the train was about to start, and was still picking flowers when it began to move off With the other passengers leaning out of the windows and cheering her on she ran after it and succeeded in climbing back on board, an effort that she was not really built for).
Hebe's Communist sympathies were shattered when a friend of hers, Dr Edith Bone - a Hungarian married to a Brit -- went back to Hungary to visit relatives in 1949. They saw her off at Budapest airport -- but she wasn't on the plane when it landed in London. The Communist authorities arrested her on some trumped-up charge, and she spent seven years in prison in solitary confinement. She escaped during the Hungarian revolution of 1956, and when she went to the British Embassy in Budapest they told her: "Oh yes, we know all about you. Your friend Hebe Spaull has been nagging us all the time."
Hebe's achievements were all the more remarkable because she had very little education only at a school "For the Daughters of Gentlefolk". Always generous, she helped finance Barnard Spaull's University Education, as well as helping her father out financially.
I thank so much Richard Miller and his uncle David Spaull.
If you are interested in the work of Hebe Spaull you may google and find some additional information, that was not available yet, of course, when I copied her book for this Site.