Gladys de Havilland

Born in 1888 in Hampshire, she was the sister of the famous aircraft designer and business man, Geoffrey de Havilland.

During WW1 she enlisted as a FANY driver, subsequently in 1918 she wrote a book on driving skills.

Motors seemed to be in her blood as in 1928 she approached Sir Herbert Austin with a plan to drive around the world.  Sir Herbert was clearly taken by the idea and gave her an Austin Seven saloon with which to do the trip.

Leaving Longbridge in October 1928 she and a friend first crossed the United States, then on to New Zealand, Australia, Ceylon, India and then back across Europe.   She eventually returned to England reaching Dover in May 1929. Gladys had many adventures and the Austin ran faultlesly proving Britain’s efficiency in small car production and adding much credibility to the model. Hers was the first circumnavigation of the globe in a car by a woman. Gladys died in 1969 at the age of eighty.

In 2007 the Association purchased an album of photographs of the trip, later acquiring a larger folder of press cuttings taken from newspapers all over the world.  Her journey proved to be of great interest to the general public as the numerous press cuttings accumulated by Austin’s publicity department go to show.

They form a unique record of both a remarkable lady, journey and the Austin Seven in which she travelled.

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