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Papers relating to Ethel de Keyser

 Single Item
MS. 20457
Held in our offsite storage facility

  • Request
  1. Transcript of Denis Herbstein's interviews with Ethel de Keyser in November and December 1996, conducted for Connie Field's documentary film about the anti-apartheid struggle. The interviews cover Ethel de Keyser's upbringing in South Africa, her brother Jack Tarshish and her work as executive secretary of the Anti-Apartheid Movement from 1967 to 1974.
  2. Programme of the memorial event for Ethel de Keyser held at South Africa House, London, on 23 September 2004 including Denis Herbstein's tribute.
  3. Papers relating to Ethel de Keyser's estate and will, 2000-2010 (= Closed).


  • Creation: 1996-2010


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 20457].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.


MS. 20457

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 20457


Papers relating to Ethel de Keyser.

Biographical / Historical

Ethel de Keyser was born in Poland in 1926 to Jewish parents who moved to South Africa shortly after her birth. After school in Stellenbosch she came to Britain to study English literature and theatre and was married to the actor David de Keyser from 1949 to 1959. In 1960 she returned to South Africa on hearing of the detention of her brother, Jack Tarshish, during the state of emergency following the Sharpeville massacre in March that year. She became involved in the underground activities of the African National Congress (ANC), helping activists to flee the country, and back in London began volunteering for the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM). She returned briefly to South Africa in 1963 when Jack, a member of the ANC and South African Communist Party, was imprisoned for twelve years. Ethel was arrested and deported to Britain.

Ethel became executive secretary of the AAM in 1967 and as its senior full-time official brought the movement to the attention of the British public during a difficult period following the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders at the Rivonia Trial. She organised the campaigns against the 1969-1970 Springbok rugby tour and against the lifting of the arms embargo, and rallied support from diverse quarters. She resigned from her post in 1974, anticipating Jack's release from prison and arrival in London in poor health in 1975, but served as AAM vice-chair and then on the executive committee until 1986.

After a short time working in publishing, in 1981 Ethel became director of the British Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa, which supported political prisoners and their families, and, with Canon John Collins, established the Educational Trust for Southern Africa. The Trust enabled South African and Namibian exiles to obtain an education in Britain and, following the South African election in 1994, began to address the legacies of apartheid, particularly through health projects. Ethel remained actively involved in this work until her death in July 2004.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Bodleian Library by Denis Herbstein in 2019.

Catalogue of Papers relating to Ethel de Keyser
Finding aid prepared by Lucy McCann
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom