Saturday, October 27, 2007

Dorothy Levitt

A couple of weeks back I posted about a 1904 motor sport event that crossed the border into Radnorshire, a time when the car was still a pretty rare sight in Mid Wales, there being just 33 cars registered in the county by January 1905. Anyway it seems that a BBC programme called the One Show recently had a piece about female competitor Dorothy Levitt, it appears that she is something of a mystery and they can't find anything in the public record. Here's a clue, her real name was Elizabeth Levi, daughter of Jacob Levi, a tea dealer and his wife Julia - Jacob later changed his name to John Levitt.


Anonymous said...


I trust you've passed this information to the BBC.


Anonymous said...

No Mr Plwm I haven't, with the amount of money they extort from Joe Public they should be able to do their own research.

Anonymous said...

KJJ - Brilliant. I have lusted after such gems since I started the Dorothy Levitt page on Wiki a year ago. Do you also know when and where she was born, when she died, how, where, did she marry, to whom, what else did she do?

Wiki, being as poor as a church mouse, is obliged to beg shamelessly from generous experts in lieu of proper research.


PS I have already credited you as a reference.

radnorian said...

Hi autodidactyl, just spotted your comment.

Here's what I posted on the TNF forum about Dorothy Levitt:

"I didn't know there was a mystery about Dorothy Levitt but if there is, perhaps this might give a clue.

In the 6th November 1903 issue of the Times there is a report of a court case involving Dorothy Levitt and her friend Hena Frankton, they claimed damages against a van driver who had hit their car. In the 1901 Census Miss Frankton is a boarder with the family of a John and Julia Levit, no Dorothy in the household but the Levit's do have a daughter Elizabeth, aged 19, a typist. Go back to the 1891 Census and the family name is Levi and the father's name listed as Jacob rather than John.

Anyway perhaps the typist Elizabeth Levi or Levit was the real name of Dorothy Levitt, secretary at the Napier Motor Company."

So there is the basis of my theory that Dorothy Levitt was Elizabeth Levi born around 1882 in Islington/Hackney. Possibly the Elizabeth Levi birth registered March quarter 1882 in Hackney, ref Hackney Ib 519.

What happened to Dorothy, she was living at flat 1n Portman Mansions, Paddington until 1913 but I haven't been able to find anything else.

Webrarian said...

A thoroughly enjoyable bit of detective work. What's your source for the 1913 information - a street directory?

(I reached your blog via Wikipedia after watching Penelope Keith, BTW)

Anonymous said...

Yep Webrarian, Dorothy Levitt is listed at Portman Mansions in the old telephone directories now accessible via Nothing in the 1911 census but a lot of suffragists seemingly boycotted the census and Dorothy strikes me as being of that persuasion.

Hopefully the programme will encourage someone to get to the truth of the matter.

annkramer said...

My name is Ann Kramer and I'm coming to your excellent blog rather late. I wrote a short piece on Dorothy for a book, Sussex Women (published 2007), and had a spot talking about her on The One Show. At that time there was very little known about her, outside of information in The Woman and the Car. Thanks be to your excellent research, we now know more. However, I would like to take the research further; I'm particularly interested in seeing what I can find out about her early life, not least because my grandparents like hers were from Whitechapel. I'm intending to try some Jewish genealogy sites and if anything comes up, will pass information onto you.

radnorian said...


Hope you spotted this updayte about Dorothy's death and her sister Elsie Ruby Lewis

I'll be very interested in what you turn up. Good luck.

annkramer said...

Yes, I had seen it, thank you. I've also been sent a copy of Dorothy's death certificate by DNB for whom I'm writing a biographical piece on Dorothy.

annkramer said...

Just for your info, by the way, I have managed to track Dorothy Levitt's maternal great grandparents, who came from Liverpool, so I now have a fairly comprehensive family tree. She also probably had 2 nephews but I've not yet been able to track them down.