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The Buck stopped here

Dame Marina Warner hosts a Bloomsbury bash to support single parent families

By Louisa Buck

What better way to spend the eve of International Woman’s Day than with Dame Marina Warner—the eminent writer, scholar and chronicler of myths—who was hosting an evening in support of Gingerbread, Britain’s only charity for single parents which celebrates its centenary next year. It was especially appropriate that the event took place in The Keynes Library at 46 Gordon Square, now owned by the University of London’s Birkbeck School of Arts, which was where the motherless Vanessa and Virginia Stephen (later Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf) grew up, before the building was occupied by the economist John Maynard Keynes. 

Presided over by two magnificent Vanessa Bell paintings, Dame Marina, who is Gingerbread’s vice president—the president is JK Rowling—addressed a large crowd of supporters who included the art historian and former Burlington Magazine editor Frances Spalding, the biographer Fiona MacCarthy and the novelist Celia Brayfield. Dame Marina pointed out that, although big steps have been made since Gingerbread’s foundation as the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child in 1918, single parents—and especially single mothers—continue to be dogged by stigma, prejudice and discrimination. This is especially shocking considering that there are two million single parents in Britain, which amounts to one in four families with children. This exceptional charity provides the support, advice and constant campaigning to ensure that these families are valued and treated equally and fairly.