Anne Murray


Anne was brought up in Perthshire, Scotland in a big 16th century house.

Her grandparents were Katherine and Peter Sinclair, on her mother’s side, and Myrtle and James, on her father, John’s, side.  Her father was called John and was born in 1887. John’s family lived in Scotland.  Anne’s mother, Ellen, was born in 1900, in the Far East. Her maternal grandfather was a linguist and worked for the government.

Anne had an older brother, John, and a younger sister, Alyn.  John became a doctor and Alyn, a ballerina.

Anne went to a private school which she says, ‘I didn’t care for, actually’.

In fact she didn’t like school, ‘it was too regimented’ but went onto study Law at Harvard.  She had read about the Law school there and decided, in 1947, that’s where she wanted to go. Her parents went out there as well. She studied American Law and took British Law as a second subject. She said she, ‘was cocooned in the college campus.’ On a visit to London in 1949 she took a job as a volunteer for the Health Service taking medical details from people and noting them down. The information she took was to help people be assessed for extra money or help.

Anne’s first paid job was as a lecturer at Harvard in Law. She worked twenty hours a week.  After five years in the States Anne came back to this country but went back to Scotland to stay with her mother who was ill.  When she came back down to London she trained as a barrister at Middle Temple. There were very few women barristers when Anne started work at 25. It was difficult to get into.

Anne was going to get married but at the last minute Anne made the decision to go to the Middle East. She had decided that instead of marriage, ‘study and a career’ was for her.  First, she travelled to Cairo and lectured at the university and at the private law schools. She said it was very different from the West and people behaved differently too. But she said, ‘one gets accustomed to it although women were not really accepted out there.’ In Beirut the women were not ‘covered up’. Her friends were mostly people at the university. She was there for 5 years and then went onto Damascus. Damascus was very interesting as one of Anne’s hobbies was archaeology. She said, ‘there were important sites to see there.’

Immersing herself in the culture she became fluent in Arabic and lectured in Arabic as well as English. Anne then went onto Beirut which, she said, was very easy to live in, ‘You could get eastern food, English food, American food. It was easier to get to know people there as well.’

Anne came back to the UK in the 1960 to look after her mother in Scotland. And stayed up in Scotland and practiced law there until 1964. She came back to London to live in Bloomsbury, after her mother died and practiced privately till the 1980s.


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