Dora Cox’s grandfather, a Yorkshire man, worked on the Russian railways and her father was active in the 1900 wave of strikes there and then had to flee to London, where he met and married Dora’s mother, a Latvian Jewish refugee. Dora was born on 29th July 1904 and one of her abiding early memories was of the joy in her home when the Russian revolution took place. She began her political education at a Socialist Sunday School and was one of the founding members of the Young Communist League in 1924.
On leaving school, she began to work as a typist and translator for the Communist Party and was chosen to lead a group of YCLers to Russia for the celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the revolution. Dora stayed for three years, studying at the Trade Union College with students from all over the USSR. A stunning beauty at this age, she had promised Harry Pollitt not to let her personal life come before the Party and return to Britain. In 1930 she moved to Lancashire to help organise mill girls. On her return to London, she met her husband, Idris Cox (see separate entry), and they married and moved to Wales in 1933.
Dora and others such as Annie Powell (see separate entry) were able to persuade the male dominated Welsh Party to accept women-only political education classes, which she was central to the running of. She and Lewis Jones (see separate entry) led the 1934 Hunger March which began in Tonypandy, picking up on its way through Wales all the way to London.
Despite the burdens of motherhood and marriage to a leading Party functionary, Dora kept up her political activity in the following years. She took her children, Judith and John, with her in a pram whilst collecting in Cardiff for the Aid to Spain movement and took up the traumatic job of visiting the families of international Brigade volunteers killed in Spain.
During Idris’ stint as Daily Worker editor and then International Secretary, he and Dora lived in London and she partook in supporting his many international activities in particular. She was politically active even during the 1984-5 miners’ strike in her local women’s support group. Her life story was presented in a BBC Wales documentary, Time of my Life. Idris Cox died in 1987 but was nursed for many years during his long illness occasioned from Alzheimer’s, which struck soon after their retirement return to Wales. Dora died on January 4th 2000 at the age of 95.
Source: Morning Star 21st January 2002
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