Obituary: Sarah Guthrie: 5 September 1942 - 14 July 2023

IssueJune - July 2024
Photo: Guthrie family
Comment by Joanna Guthrie

My mum Sarah Guthrie was born in Lancashire to Neville Evans, an oil broker, and his wife, Barbara (née Bruce). At 17, she dropped out of school in South West London and went to study at the Alliance Française in Paris. She returned to London to work at Harper’s Bazaar magazine and then at an early listings magazine.

In 1966, with two colleagues at the magazine, she set up London’s first lunchtime theatre – ‘Theatrescope Original Lunch Hour Plays’ – which is where she met my dad, Brian, who she married in 1969.

Four daughters followed over the next 16 years, all home-educated to a lesser or greater degree.

My family left inner-city London for rural Norfolk in 1977 to pursue a more self-sufficient life. Suffolk actually recruited Sarah to home tutor children who were unable for any reason to attend school. She started a local home education activity group which is still running to this day.

In 1978, Sarah began producing cartoons professionally (as ‘SEG’) for magazines such as Peace News, Mslexia, Prospect, Independent Monitor and, for 20 years, Ethical Consumer.

She also had a regular and much-loved strip, ‘Educating Archie’, in the newsletter of Education Otherwise, the organisation she had helped to found in 1976 to support the then-emerging home education movement with legal and practical advice.

Throughout her life, my mum was a steadfast, imaginative and committed campaigner and activist for peace. She went to Greenham Common and co-founded Diss Peace Group at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. She embodied peace, showing it every day to those around her, creating a great deal of love and always accompanying it with riotous laughter and a keen sense of the absurd.

Nothing was too dark for her humour, and I feel that her work in Peace News was some of her best, marrying as it did the dark events of the early 2010s with her ability to skewer it all and introduce the light of humour.

These cartoons were the closest in spirit to the running strip she kept up for the family over many years, entitled ‘The Rats of Thrandeston’. Those cartoons are a precious document of our idiosyncratic family life.

Sarah is survived by my dad (Brian), me (Joanna), my sisters Alice, Lydia and Nina and (so far) three grandchildren.

See more of: Obituary