Title
Miss
First name(s) Ref: *1
Sarah Treverbian
Surname
Prideaux
Position(s) held at King's College London Ref: *5

Lecturer in Bookbinding 1896, 1899 and 1903: 'proposed to give' special courses for Foreigners on some of the following subjects, including Arts and Crafts - Printing, Binding, Enamelling, Furniture etc: Miss Prideaux.'

Education & professional details

School, college and/or university attended Ref: *4

1884 Trained with the London Bookbinder Joseph Zaensdorf, and in Paris under Leon Gruel.

Position(s) held (non King's College London) Refs: *5 *6
  • Opened her own Binding Studio in London in 1884, where she taught pupils until 1904;
  • Cheltenham Ladies' College, 1908
Professional activities Ref: *7

She served on the Cheltenham Ladies' College governing body (the College Council) from 1907-1922.

Publications

(amongst others) Exhibition of Book Bindings (illustrated catalogue Burlington Fine Arts Club, London. Printed for the BFAC by Mechim & Son, 1891); An Historical Sketch of Bookbinding, with a chapter on early stamped bindings by E. Gordon Duff (London, Lawrence & Bullen, 1893); A catalogue of Books bound by ST Prideaux between MDCCCXC and MDCCCC with 26 illustrations. (London, printed by ST Prideaux and K Adams 1900); Bookbinders and their craft, some English and Scottish Bindings of the Last Century. (London, Zaensdorf, 1903);

Personal details

Date of birth Ref: *2
8th March 1853
Place of birth
London
Date of death Ref: *3
7th March 1933
Place of death
Middlesex
Obituary Ref: *9

" Sarah Treverbian Prideaux, who has recently died in her eightieth year, was equally memorable for the unfailing strength and sweetness of her character and for her great intellectual gifts. To have known her intimately and to have been influenced by her wise and discriminating humanism was an experience which it is difficult to overvalue and impossible to forget.

In the craft of book-binding which she chose as her profession, her high standard of achievement both in workmanship and in design had full recognition, and her work will continue to be prized by collectors. Her various writings on book-binding and on kindred subjects have a definite and assured place in the history of book production. Whatever Miss Prideaux wrote was remarkable for its fine sense of style. In her talk, as in her writings, she never fell into the habit of using words as though they were a rough and ready means of expression. Words, like all precise and fine instruments, are easily blunted, and she used them with the same respect for their exact purpose that a craftsman feels for his tools. Of her great interest in education and of her long service in various academic bodies it is not necessary to speak here. Her interests went far beyond the craft of bookbinding or the science of education.

Above all, she had a passionate enthusiasm for the arts, a scholar's thirst for accurate knowledge, and a splendidly wise range of sensitiveness. Her mind was intensely critical, bt the critical faculty never impaired the freshness of her enjoyment, and her response to beauty was immediate and profound. Throughout her career she was actively and strenuously concerned in various movements for the improvement of taste and the revival of better workmanship. In an age still so largely Philistine as ours it was inevitable that a woman of Miss Prideaux's temperament should have often found herself on the losing side. By that she was entirely unaffected; but she never ceased to be dismayed and perhaps a little surprised by finding that people who shared her own enthusiasm for education were sometimes wholly indifferent to the visual arts as a means of culture and of delight. " Admirable people" was her account of one committee " but 'with wisdom at one entrance quite shut out'" . To her, on the other hand, it would be a matter of absolute importance that a class-room or a dormitory should, down to its humblest detail, be made efficient and beautiful instead of efficient and commonplace. Miss Prideaux possessed (to borrow a well-known description of genius) an infinite capacity for taking pains, and to compromise with what was aesthetically or intellectually second-rate seemed merely a form of disloyalty.

Miss Prideaux's own preferences in literature and the arts led her to set a high value - and, it may be, at times too high a value - on the classic qualities of controlled and deliberate design, of restraint and of a certain austerity; and this tendency was no doubt strengthened by her early training as a craftsman and also by her lifelong devotion to the literature of France. Her mind moved in accordance with very definite principles and definite standards; but she had, none the less, an astonishing freshness and vigour of outlook, a youthful eagerness for new experience.

It is pleasant to know that Miss Prideaux's outstanding qualities of sincerity and courage - her unflagging zest for life, the readiness and depth of her sympathy - and also her delightful humour and all the little nameless graces of her personality will, in all likelihood, still be remembered for many years. Among her close friends there were some who were young enough to have been her children or her grandchildren. For her, life had never lost its enchantment and its feeling of high adventure; and so she was able, in middle age and in old age, to meet the younger generations on their own ground. The young people who knew and loved her delighted in their opportunity of friendship with a mind so much wiser and more experienced but in some ways as direct and simple as their own. In that happy companionship there came, so easily and so naturally, a definite widening of their outlook upon life, the growth of a finer sense of values, the acquisition of a new power to discriminate and to enjoy. They were, of course, quite unaware that they were perhaps giving to her, in return for that rich gift, something which none of their elders could have given.

Her finely modelled features and distinguished profile had a classic dignity and noblity - a true portrait of her life. R.S.T.

Family details Ref: *8

Daughter of Walter Treverbian Prideaux (1806-1889), lawyer, poet and resident administrator of Goldsmith's Hall.

Notes Ref: *10

Death notice, recorded as living in 74 Hornton Street, Kensington. Noted that she left 14, 263.

* References

  1. V& A National Art Library catalogues
  2. ibid
  3. ibid
  4. http://smu.edu/Bridwell/SpecialCollections: 50 Women, the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Galleries, 26th August-13th December 2013)
  5. (10, 11.1) ibid
  6. (11.2) Cheltenham Ladies' College Magazine 1908 (Spring) under 'Chronicle'
  7. CLC archivist
  8. 50 Women ... op cit.
  9. CLC Magazine 1933 No XXIII, New Series
  10. National Probate Calendar 1933
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