Her Life

Short biography

Her dad was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy which meant she was born in Malta because he was stationed there. Her dad was John Brett and he was the grandson of John Brett the Pre-Raphaelite painter who's works are displayed in leading galleries around the country. John Brett the painter was a friend of John Ruskin. On Susan's mother's side she was the great-granddaughter of a Lord Mayor of London (Sir James Whitehead) who was Mayor in the early part of the twentieth century.

Susan grew up in Porchester, Hampshire. She used to love sailing on the River Dart with her father and a friend of the family known as Uncle Bill. She deeply regretted not really being able to know her dad as he was killed in the war. He died when she was 11. That is why memories like her dad and his friend Bill Hammond building little dinghies together were so precious. Her dad was on the HMS Gloucester a ship known as the Fighting G which was put in an impossible position in the Mediterranean in the early part of the second world war and was sunk by Stuka bombers. Her father received the Distinguished Service Cross for telling the ships surgeon to treat the ratings first before him. Susan went to collect the medal from the King. In her teens she struggled with anxiety due to her father's death.

When her dad died she was in an all female household - her grandmother who she adored, her mother and her sister. Her brother was only a baby.

Her school was evacuated to Cheshire. Unbeknownst to her her future husband was at school nearby.

She went to St Andrews University to study ancient history. Her future husband, Michael, worked at the engineering works at Crewe during the war but then decided to go to St Andrews which is where he met Susan.

They got married in 1951 and had their honeymoon in Paris. They lived in Hampstead, London. Susan worked for the Royal Astronomical Society. She told us people used to phone in to ask about their star sign not realising.

They had their first two daughters while in London, two sons in Horstead, Norfolk and two more daughters and a son in East Runton, Norfolk. Michael worked in print design in London and then got a job at Jarrolds of Norwich which was why the family moved to Norfolk.

She was a house wife for 10 years of married life. As soon as her youngest son was old enough she went to the University of East Anglia to study modern languages. She lived for a year in Germany as part of this course. Later on she planned to help with the household finances by completing a law course. However when it came to getting in-house experience of law work she became a victim of ageism.

She loved to talk in French and German. She also loved playing the piano, playing tennis and swimming. Michael started a school for English as a foreign language which subsequently became a private school and Susan taught in this school. Subsequently she set herself up as a private tutor doing this until she was in her eighties. She taught English, French, German, Latin and Maths as her main subjects.

She always needed the stimulation friendships gave her.

She was a very softly spoken and considerate person. Strangers probably got the impression she was a push over but no she was a quiet force to be reckoned with.