THE LIVES OF FREDA: THE BLOG
Freda Bedi never came back to make her home in Derby after she headed to Oxford University. But Derby kept a watchful interest in her - and on occasions she wrote for the city's daily papers.
News took a while to travel back then. By the time the Derby Evening Telegraph put on its front page news of Freda's imprisonment in Lahore in 1941, her sentence was almost over.
A few years later, it was Freda's mum who was making the news. She had received a surprise invitation to meet independent India's new prime minister - and Freda's friend - Jawaharlal Nehru.
'Mrs Swan's proudest moment came when [Nehru] stopped at her table and shook hands with her.' This is from the city's morning paper, the Derby Daily Telegraph, on 25th October 1948:
Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa from Derby has written this poem about Kabir Bedi and his Derby-born mother, who married a Punjabi Sikh. When Freda was born in Derby, in 1911, it had no Punjabi population at all - quite by chance, it now has a large and prominent Sikh community.
All three of Freda Bedi's childhood homes in Derby survive - which is remarkable for a city which has been knocked around more than a bit. But she's not well known in her home city - after all, she never returned to live there after her years as a student at Oxford - and there's no blue plaque or tribute to her. I do hope The Lives of Freda may help to redress that.
She was born on Monk Street, above the watch and jewellery shop run by her father. When last I was in Derby, the building was a tanning studio. Although the family moved from here when Freda was still a baby, this is the best option for a plaque. Let's hope it happens.
The family moved to Wade Street in Littleover, a move up the social ladder. Freda had keen memories of the trees in the back garden and - unlikely as it seems now - rural walks with her brother over to Mickleover. Her home was called Wade House.
Freda's mother at some stage inherited money - or perhaps it came from her second husband's family - and the family designed and built a much grander house on Keats Avenue in Mickleover. This was close to the golf course, where Nellie was one of the most accomplished women members.
And what would the blue plaque say? Well, perhaps something like this -
The Lives of Freda
- a blog about my biography of Freda Bedi