Walker Iris (Deval)

Iris (Deval) Walker


Iris was born on August 11 1920 to a working-class family in the Nechells area of Birmingham. She did well at school, but had to leave at 14 for financial reasons. During the war, she worked in a ball-bearing factory as part of the war effort. She was recruited by the Communist Party in 1942 and offered work in the party bookshop Key Books in Dale End when the war ended.

She was eventually appointed manager of Key Books and her enthusiasm, organising ability and capacity for hard work turned it into the best party bookshop in the provinces. Her first marriage ended and, in 1955, she met Feruccio Deval on holiday at Lake Balaton in Hungary. Feruccio was a teacher, a communist councillor in the Aosta valley in northern Italy and a former partisan leader. A few days after she returned from the holiday, she got a phone call from Dover saying that Feruccio had arrived on his motor bike. They got married in Birmingham and he took his bride back to the Aosta valley on the back of the bike. She found the life there unbearable because of the attitude to women and because it was a very closed society and suddenly decided to return to England. They divorced in Italy, but they regularly exchanged visits until he was too ill and she found that she could not cope with the travel.

On her return to England, she was asked by the Communist Party to undertake work in its press and publicity department and travelled around the country popularising literature in local party organisations and, in her own words, "living out of a suitcase". In 1966, she took over the management of Central Books, which she ran for 10 years. She was elected a fellow of the Association of Administrative Accountants in 1991.

She resigned from the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1987 over the dispute with Morning Star, which she supported. Until her illness, she regularly manned the literature stall at the International Brigade’s annual memorial gathering in Jubilee Gardens. Iris was a warm, kind and generous woman who loved literature and music and remained a communist all her life. She died in hospital on July 23, aged 85.

Source: Colin Williams Morning Star 31st July 2006

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