To read the previous article related to this update – please click HERE 


Following the call for information in my last post this post covers what we now know about the lady golf professional D.M. Smyth. Thank you to everyone who has been in touch, in particular Andy Mitchell who first correctly identified her and Margaret Roberts who has found and shared lots of valuable material with me on her life.

‘The French Ladies’ Golf Championship At Le Touquet’
Source: Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News
Saturday, 12 July 1913
With thanks to Douglas at Antique Golf Scotland for first sharing this image on Twitter

Family and Early Life

Diana Margaret Smyth was born on the 29th of June 1882 to parents George Watson Smyth and his wife Frances Anna Smyth (formerly Middleston) at 4 Lee Park, Blackheath, London.[1]  By 1891 her father was a clerk in the civil service which presumably gave his family some financial security and freedom.[2] George continued to do well in his professional life and in 1901 was included in the Coronation Honours List for his role as Assistant Secretary to the General Post Office. The Greenwich and Deptford Observer report that George’s ambition at this time was ‘to see Lewisham provided with postal and telegraph facilities and offices befitting to its importance, before his retirement’.[3] George Watson Smyth died in 1910 aged 71 followed by his wife Frances Anna Smyth in 1926 aged 84.[4]

Involvement in Sports

Diana competed in as well as taught different sports. In 1911, aged 29, she is featured in The Tatler following a skating competition win and is described as ‘one of the best-known lady-skaters in England’. The same report contains a compelling photograph of her in her skates, a copy of which is displayed below.[5]  Diana also used her skating prowess to teach others as in the census return of the same year she is listed as a ‘Skating Instructress’. She didn’t stay in skating for long, however, by 1912 Diana had taken up an appointment to teach golf in France, as discussed in my earlier post.[6] Although her professional golfing life was interrupted by the onset of the first world war Diana remained in France and served as a nurse with the French Red Cross.[7]

The Tatler, Wednesday 22 February 1911
With special thanks to Andy Mitchell for first sharing this article and photograph with me

Back on Home Soil

By 1921 Diana had moved back to the UK, specifically to Brighton and was living at 29 Albany Villas in Hove. Her occupation at this time is a ‘commercial motor driver’ and she is listed as the head of the household. A Dorothy Clarke is living with her at the same address and, interestingly, under the ‘Relationship to Head of the Household’ section of the census return Dorothy is listed as Diana’s ‘partner’. [8] As Dorothy’s occupation is the same as Diana’s, with Dorothy also listed as a ‘motor driver’, it could mean they were business partners as opposed to the contemporary romantic meaning of the word ‘partner’ – but who knows. As far as we can tell, Diana never married. In the 1939 register Diana is listed as the proprietress of a Guest House in Brighton and is putting her commercial driving experience to good use as an Ambulance Driver. Diana remains a member of the Red Cross at the onset of the second world war and it’s possible she was driving ambulances for the Red Cross during this period.

A Remarkable Life

Diana Margaret Smyth died in Portsmouth in 1970 aged 88 having survived two world wars and lived and worked in France and England as a skating instructress, golf professional, nurse, commercial motor driver, proprietress, and ambulance driver. Her life is an exemplar of the ‘New Woman’ ideal that saw women more actively participating in all aspects of public life in the late nineteenth century, including sports and their organisation, as women were no longer entirely reliant on a husband or male relative for legal or economic security.[9]

Article © of Jodie Neville



[1] Birth Record for Diana Margaret Smyth in England & Wales Births 1837-2006, England, 1882, Vol 1D, Page 1072

[2] ‘Diana Margaret Smyth’ (1891) Census Return for 1891, 4 Lee Park, Blackheath, London, England.

[3][3] ‘The Coronation Honours’, Greenwich and Deptford Observer, Friday, July 4, 1902

[4] Death Announcement Mr G.W. Smyth, The Times, Saturday 27 August 1910; Death Announcement Frances Ann Smyth, Surrey Mirror, Friday 7 May, 1926

[5] The Tatler, Wednesday 22 February 1911; special thanks to Andy Mitchell for first sharing this article and photograph with me.

[6] ‘Lady Golf Professional Appointed to Le Touquet’, The Leicester Daily Post, Monday, June 10,1912, with thanks to Douglas at Antique Golf Scotland for sharing this image on Twitter

[7] National Archives WO 392/23/38733

[8] ‘Diana Margaret Smyth’ (1921) Census Return for 1921, 20 Albany Villas, Hove, Brighton.

[9] B. June West, ‘The “New Woman”’, Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Jul., 1955), pp. 55-68