While her signature appeared only occasionally in Time and Tide’s columns, Professor Winifred Clara Cullis played a very significant role in the magazine’s history. Apparently entering its orbit via the Six Point Group (of which she was a founding member), she served on Time and Tide’s board of directors from 1924 until her death. A lifelong feminist, she received a university education at a time when few women did. She co-founded the British Federation of University Women (now the British Federation of Women Graduates) in 1907, and, in 1919, the International Federation of University Women (IFUW), which also continues today as Graduate Women International.
Cullis was born in Gloucester in 1875, to Louisa and Frederick, who was a surveyor and civil engineer. When she was 15, her family moved to Birmingham, where she attended King Edward VI High School for Girls, and Mason College – a predecessor to Birmingham University, specialising in medicine and science. She entered Newnham College, Cambridge in 1896, where she studied natural sciences. She was awarded her DSc (London) in 1908, followed by three honorary LLDs: from Vassar College (New York, USA) in 1919, Groucher College (Maryland, USA) in 1931, and Birmingham University in 1955.
Cullis began her scientific career in 1901, as an assistant in the research laboratory of the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians. Later that year she became a demonstrator in physiology at the London School of Medicine for Women (LSMW), the first woman to hold such a post. She remained at the LSMW for the rest of her life, working as co-lecturer, lecturer, reader, and (from 1919) professor; she was the second woman in Britain to be made a professor, and the first to achieve this position in a medical school. In 1915, she became one of the first women to be elected to the Physiological Society. She wrote talks for the BBC Schools Programme, and her 1949 school textbook, Your Body and the Way it Works, was the first to discuss growth, reproduction, and hereditary.
Cullis was a keen internationalist, a stance that informed her directorship of Time and Tide. She travelled widely, delivering lectures on physiology and health to troops in Gibraltar and Malta during World War One, and in China, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and the Middle East during World War Two. For her service during World War One, she was awarded an OBE in 1919; she was made a CBE in 1929. In 1919, she co-founded the International Federation of University Women, an organisation that contributed to the processes of peace and reconstruction after the war by promoting international understanding and friendship between university women around the world; she served as its president between 1929 and 1932. Cullis’ internationalist outlook emerges in Time and Tide from the late 1920s onwards, in the journal’s increased focus on international affairs. From 1927, Travel Numbers and Supplements, articles about travelling outside Britain, and fiction by writers of colour engaged readers with non-British cultures, and encouraged them to criticise racism and colonialism. In April 1931, Time and Tide incorporated international affairs journal Foreign Affairs, which it published as a monthly supplement.
Cullis enjoyed close friendships with her fellow Time and Tide directors, holidaying with Cicely Hamilton, Winifred Holtby, and Lady Rhondda in 1928; in later years, she was a frequent guest of Rhondda and Theodora Bosanquet. She remained on the magazine’s board beyond World War Two. An auditor’s report records her death, with regret, in 1956.
By Dr Eleanor Reed
Clay, Catherine. Time and Tide: The Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine. Edinburgh University Press, 2019 (2018)
John, Angela V. Turning the Tide: The Life of Lady Rhondda. Parthian, 2013
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