Wrong, Margaret Christian

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Wrong, Margaret Christian

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1887-1948

History

The eldest child of George and Sophia Wrong, Margaret (Marga) was born in Toronto on 26 June 1887. She attended Havergal College and the University of Toronto, where she was an occasional student in Arts at University College in 1906-1907 and again in 1910-1911. She then attended Somerville College at Oxford from 1911-1914, where she was very active in the work of the Student Christian Movement. In 1920 she received an MA from the University of Toronto.

Back in Canada, she became secretary to the student YWCA, a position she held for three years. As a result of her work with students, she founded in 1916 the University College Women’s Union, as a social centre and residence, of which she became the first resident head. Later she founded Argyle House (1918) and Hutton House (1919), women’s residences associated with University College. From 1917 to 1919 she was also a temporary assistant (sessional) in the Department of English in University College and, from 1919 to 1921, a sessional instructor in the Department of History.

In 1921 Margaret resigned to take up the position of travelling secretary of the World Students’ Christian Federation, based in Geneva (her father acknowledged that she would never receive a permanent position in the department while he was head). Her duties took her first to Eastern Europe, where she helped organize student relief in Poland, Austria and the Baltic countries, and established a student YMCA, first in Riga, Latvia, and then in Austria. In all she spent five years traveling across Europe and the British Isles, attending conferences and helping to improve the organization of the WSCF.

In 1926 she moved to London as a missionary secretary of the British Student Christian Movement. Her first activity was a seven-month tour of Africa, traveling 18,000 miles to inspect Christian educational facilities. She also put down roots, buying a house in suburban Hampstead that she shared with her partner, Margaret Read. It was to be her base until her death. After Murray’s death, the two Margaret's took in some of his children.

In 1929 Margaret was appointed the first secretary of the newly established International Committee of Christian Literature for Africa, a position she held until her death. She spent much of her time in Africa, learning about literature needs and conferring with officials and missionary bodies to promote the spread of education. In 1932, she started Listen, a magazine for African school children, edited a quarterly called Books for Africa, and published a number of books, mostly on aspects of education in Africa.

Her advice was sought by the British Colonial Office and she served as a member of its Committee on Mass Education. She was also a member of the Linguistic Committee of the International African Research Institute. During World War II she served as a consultant on West Africa to the British Ministry of Information, and helped prepare scripts for the BBC’s African service. In 1948, Margaret had just embarked on a survey of educational institutions in East Africa when she died of a heart attack in Gulu, Uganda on 11 April 1948.

Margaret Read continued to live in their house in Hampstead, occasionally visiting the Wrongs in Canada. She died at the age of 102 in the late 1990s.

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