Person NameElmhirst; Dorothy Whitney Straight (1887-1968)
ForenamesDorothy Whitney Straight
ActivityFounder-Trustee of The Dartington Hall Trust (1931-1968)
Dorothy Whitney Elmhirst was born Dorothy Payne Whitney in Washington, United States of America on 23 Jan 1887. Her father, William Collins Whitney,was a well-known financier, statesman and connoisseur of the arts, and her mother, Flora Payne, was from a wealthy family of social standing. Her mother died when she was six, and her father died in 1904, leaving Dorothy at the age of 17 an extraordinarily wealthy and independent woman. She became actively committed to social welfare, becoming president of the National Junior Leagues, and was involved in organisations of a more radical nature, like the suffragettes and the Women's Trade Union League. In 1911 Dorothy married Willard Straight, moving with him to Peking until the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty forced their return to America. Willard died in 1918 from pneumonia having enlisted to serve in the First World War, leaving Dorothy a widow at 31 with three children, Whitney, Beatrice and Michael. Dorothy continued to be involved in social, educational, industrial and economic enterprises, supporting The New Republic, a weekly journal of liberal opinion founded by Willard Straight. In 1920 she met Leonard Knight Elmhirst, son of an English Clergyman and a student at Cornell University, who assisted her in her plans to build Willard Straight Hall at the University. Over a period of years, Leonard courted Dorothy, and together they planned their experiment in education, research, rural regeneration and the arts. They married in 1925 and purchased Dartington Hall in Devon, England to start their enterprise. Two further children were born, Ruth and William. Dorothy died on 14 December, 1968.
RelationshipsMarried (1) Willard Straight, 1911 (d 1919); (2) Leonard Elmhirst, 1924
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