20th Century British Art
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Phoebe Peto Willetts-Dickinson (1917-1978)

Phoebe Willetts-Dickinson studied at the Birmingham School

of Art and the Royal Academy Schools between 1934 and 1940.

She served in the land army during WWII and in 1942 married

conscientious objector Alfred Willetts.


She was a lifelong campaigner for peace, social justice and

the ordination of women – issues which influenced many of

her paintings. After taking part in demonstrations to block the

entrance to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at

Foulness Island, she spent six months in prison for a nuclear

disarmament protest in April 1960.


In 1966 she was ordained as a Deaconess in the Church of

England, and as part of her campaign for the ordination of women

priests she defied Church authority in 1978 to become the first

female to concelebrate communion in an English parish church.

Although she died just seven weeks later, her writing on

women’s call to priesthood was published as a book, Sharing a

Vision, in 1979.

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