The Chick Group

From: Freud in Cambridge (2017), by John Forrester and Laura Cameron:

“The “Chicks” proper were the daughters (seven in total) of London lace merchant Samuel Chick and his wife Emma. Physically vigorous and intrepid, the Chick girls were known for their walking parties and for swimming even in rough seas: on one of these dramatic bathing occasions, a family friend described watching a huge wave crash on shore: “it seemed to be full of Miss Chicks”…According to Tansley/Chick family lore, Arthur Tansley first fell in love with the vivacious dark-haired Harriette “Harty” Chick…but Tansley was rebuffed (the story has it that Harriette was disturbed by his depressive tendencies) and he subsequently married her older sister, Edith, also a talented botanist, in 1903.

Harriette…became in 1905 the first woman to be appointed to the staff of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine…she along with Elsie Dalyell from the Lister Institute were sent to investigate nutrition deficiencies in Vienna. Margot Hume would join the team a few months later and it is clear from Harriette’s diaries that both she and Margot met up with Arthur Tansley during his first period of analysis with Freud in the spring of 1922.

…In detailing the “Chick Group”, Tansley emerges, in some sense, as a man who wedded himself, not just to Edith Chick, the one wife, but to a tight network of women scientists…”

On 6 April 1922, Sigmund Freud wrote to Ernest Jones in London: “Tansley has started analysis last Saturday. I find a charming man in him, a nice type of the English scientist. It might be a gain to win him over to our science at the loss of botany”.”

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