Norbury Manor Business & Enterprise College

Obituary: Emma Wood

Former Norbury Manor student, Emma Wood, has died aged 72

Emma Wood, a former Norbury Manor student, has passed away aged 72.

Emma worked as a photographer and picture researcher and was a determined political and feminist campaigner.

Born Irene Gambie in Fulham, south-west London, to Fred Gambie, a bank messenger, and his wife Iris, a civil servant, she later changed her name to Emma Wood, partly in homage to Jane Austen.

In the early 1970s she attended Keele University as a young single mother studying for a degree in French and living with her son, Alex. Although she did not finish her degree at Keele and left in 1973, she went on to gain a humanities degree from the Open University.

A passionate advocate of women’s and housing rights, she was an active member of the Wages for Housework campaign and the Power of Women Collective from the early 70s and also attended National Women’s Liberation Conference meetings.

After working as a photographer and picture researcher, Emma started her own business called Imagine. She worked for the Hulton picture library and contributed to Encarta, Microsoft’s digital multimedia encyclopedia.

Emma retired in the early 2000s to devote her time to writing and campaigning; a paper she wrote on the well-known studio photographer George Charles Beresford gained her membership of the Royal Photographic Society. She wrote several essays about the work of Virginia Woolf and was published in the Woolf Society Bulletin. A catalogue of the papers of the North Kensington printer Mike Braybrook she produced in collaboration with Geof Branch, her former partner and the father of her child, Lilith, has been accepted into the British Library collection.

Emma spent most of her life in North Kensington, London, where she became a member of the local Labour party having previously been a member of two variants of the British communist party.

Emma is survived by her children, Alex, Lilith and Jim, and her grandchildren, Liam, Melissa, Sadie and Aisha.

This is an abridged version of the Emma Wood obituary by Geof Branch published by The Guardian on March 9th 2020. Thanks to The Guardian for use of the text and photograph.