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Delightfully disgraceful Edith

24 July, 2020 — By John Gulliver

Edith Redstone, co-author of Growing Old Disgracefully, has died aged 101

THE word “disgraceful” has always appealed to me ever since a group of women got together and did exactly that: they decided it was time to behave “disgracefully”. That is how Growing Old Disgracefully entered our lives and we are all the better for it.

Sadly, one of the founders of what became a movement – and certainly not just a passing fashion – Edith Redstone has died just a month before her 102nd birthday.

Now there are organisations dedicated to the same cause all over the UK and other parts of the world who meet regularly with an annual get together.

She will be particularly remembered by members of the Belsize Park group of Growing Old Disgracefully.
Edith, a familiar figure in Hampstead, was born in New York to immigrant parents from Austria and Russia.

Typically for a woman with an open mind, she took up engineering at a college. Then she met an Englishman in 1942 and came to live first in Highgate, later Hampstead. With her creative mind it wasn’t long before she was working for a US information agency writing propaganda leaflets that were dropped over Germany.

She raised two children, Peter and Amanda, both of whom left home in their 20s to become farmers in the West Country – Peter remains a farmer while Amanda has just moved to Brighton where she works as a psychotherapist.

Edith’s life changed course at 70 when she met a group of women, all in their 60s and 70s, at a course in Yorkshire, and the result was the co-authored book Growing Old Disgracefully which has run into several editions.

She would never look at things negatively. Told over the years that she couldn’t sing, she joined a choir in Kentish Town, filled with a joy and a passion of released energy.

But more was to come in her 80s when she began to work for the women’s art gallery, Gillian Jason Gallery, based in Primrose Hill – she discovered a hidden love for art and would buy paintings at auctions for the gallery.

A singular woman and an anti-monarchist, she declined to receive a letter from the Queen when she was 100 while pleased to receive one from the former US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta.


Gillian Jason, founder of a women’s art gallery in Primrose Hill

• GILLIAN JASON, who founded the unique women’s gallery in 1982 in Camden Town, died on Tuesday at 79. Her daughter Elli, who now runs the gallery off Prince Albert Road in Primrose Hill, said her mother studied at the Royal Ballet School as well as at an operatic school before setting up the gallery. Her funeral is due to take place next week.


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