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Singer Eleanor

Eleanor Singer

Dr Eleanor Singer, was one of pioneers of consultation centres for contraceptive advice to young people that were the precursors of the Brook clinics. These were established in the 1950s when there was still enormous official resistance to allowing young unmarried women to get family planning advice. She worked for more than 30 years in the Sheffield clinic, only retiring when she was 80 years old.
 
She was born on November 12th 1903 in Hampstead into a Jewish family. Her grandfather was a rabbi, a founder of the Reformed Synagogue and a friend of Karl Marx. Her mother's sisters were active suffragettes, one of whom worked with Sylvia Pankhurst in the east end of London.
 
She studied biochemistry at University College, London, obtaining her MSc in 1929 and then taught at the University of California at Berkeley, returning to London to do research on the study of vitamins.
 
In the 1930s, she joined the Communist Party influenced by Yvonne Kapp (See entry for Kapp) They were friends and, for a time, lovers. In 1935, Singer attended the International Physiological Conference in Moscow, organised by Bukharin.
 
In 1939 she began to study medicine and qualified as a doctor in 1941. By this time she had left Kapp to marry Sidney Fink (see separate entry), a full-time organiser for the Communist Party, who was killed in an air raid during the war. Eleanor immediately offered her services to the Save the Children Fund to head a medical unit for post-war relief work in the Balkans. With victory in Europe, she was sent to Sarajevo, where she ran children's clinics and was decorated for her work by Marshall Tito when she left the country. She returned to England in 1948, having met the economist Michael Barratt Brown in Sarajevo. After Kruschev's revelations to the 20th Congress of the CPSU and the events in Hungary, she left the Party.
 
In the post-war period, she worked as an assistant medical officer of health and with the Family Planning Association clinics on Essex. She and Barratt Brown moved to Sheffield and Derbyshire in the early 1960s. She was then schools medical officer for North Derbyshire, and researched a study of the local incidence of goitre. She learned to be a potter when she finally retired in 1984 and died on September 10th 1999.
 
Source: Guardian September 13th 1999