Alice Jane Taylor, as she was born, was only the second woman to graduate from Manchester University, achieving a degree in Physics and Chemistry.
Strangely, despite that scientific background, she had a lifelong belief in fairies.
Born in December 1884, at Castle Top Farm, two miles from Cromford, she was the daughter of tenant farmers.
She described herself as a “snow-baby”, for at the time of her birth the farm was cut off from civilisation by days of heavy snowfall that had blanketed the Derwent Valley below.
Although she would live out her childhood there, the 1891 census would find her staying with an uncle and aunt in Horton near Bradford. In 1901, the 16-year-old Alice is listed at the farm with her parents and younger brother. Farming was in her blood. It was something her family had done for generations.
Writing in the 1930s Alison recalled: “The life of the farm was my life. Although I stood apart in a magic circle of my own weaving, it was my environment, the only existence I understood … it was my father I saw with the plough, walking the field, my grandmother who, years before my birth, had used the spinning wheel which lay broken in the barn. It was my great-grandfather who had planted the walnut trees in the valley and the firs on the crest.”