SPILLER, Ethel Mary

1859 - 1953

Born at Charlton, Kent on 25 August 1859, eldest child of John Spiller (1833-1921), an analytical chemist, and his first wife Caroline Ada née Pritchard, who married at Hackney in 1858. In 1871, an 11 year old living at 35 Grosvenor Road, Islington with her parents, 37 year old John and 38 year old Caroline, and three siblings, Arnold John 8, Beatrice 3 and Claude Pritchard 1. In 1881 a 24[sic] old art student living at 2 St Mary's Road, Islington with her father John and his second wife Emma née Paul, with two siblings. Arnold and Claude. In the 1880's she lived at York Road, Southwold, Suffolk from where she painted at least two paintings of the area, but by 1891 was back at St Mary's Road, Islington, a 31 year old drawing mistress having registered as a teacher at Highbury 1888-1914. In the summer of 1915, a shortage in the Fresh Air Fund’s finances meant that many city school children, who might otherwise have gone to the country, were left to their own devices during the school holidays. The more enterprising of them ventured through the Victoria & Albert’s hallowed portals where ‘their attention was occupied mainly with dodging the policemen behind statues and showcases’. 'With the help of the energetic and redoubtable Ethel M. Spiller, a volunteer guide and secretary of the Art Teachers’ Guild, and other ladies, the V&A laid on ‘holiday instruction’ for its ‘more youthful visitors’, providing a ‘small room’ in which children would be given ‘elementary instruction about objects in the Museum’. In 1939 a retired art teacher living at Sunny Bank Boarding House, Llanwrtyd, Breconshire, Wales and she died at Leominster, Herefordshire in 1953, age 93, she was unmarried.