Rosemary Bishop was born in Leicester, the only child of Cecil Bishop, an accountant, and Gertrude, nee Uffen, a magistrate. She was educated at Hilton Mount College, Crawley, and came to Girton to read History 1955-1958 (MA 1962). She came up to College early, in the Easter Term 1955, at the suggestion of her Director of Studies, Jean Lindsay, for coaching in order to make up for the inadequacies of her school preparation for the Cambridge Tripos. While she was at Girton she threw herself into undergraduate life, participating fully in societies, attending May Balls and developing a lifelong interest in travel by organising foreign trips for fellow students (reported in the Girton Review, Michaelmas Term 1957). She was President of the Girton Historical and Political Society, swam for Cambridge University Women's Team and was an active member of the University 'Cong Soc' (the Congregational Church in Cambridge).
After Girton, she went on to a graduate course in Modern History at Bryn Mawr College, USA, for which she received an MA in 1959, and later studied for a Master of Laws at King's College, London (LLM 1970). She took, but didn't pass, the Civil Service examinations and on her return from Bryn Mawr she became Assistant Press Librarian at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London). In 1964 she moved to the Foreign Office as a Research Officer where she stayed until 1988. Her special areas were Africa and South America and she spent some time on an attachment to the United Nations, a period which she especially enjoyed. She was interested in the UN's relations with China which led her to close affinity with the country, learning the language and taking an active part in the Church in China.
Rosemary Bishop's parents, especially her mother, played an important part in her life. Gertrude Bishop was the daughter of a Congregational minister who took her role very seriously and expected her daughter to do likewise (RB was a lifetime teetotaller at her mother's behest). Although RB respected and admired her mother she undoubtedly felt dominated by her. Both parents lived into their nineties and after her father's death in 1998, Rosemary moved from her flat in London into the empty family home in Leicestershire where she lived for the remaining five years of her life. After a period of illness, she recovered and was able to live an active life in retirement, going on cruises and attending WEA classes. She continued to be closely associated with the Congregational Church, especially at the church in Brixton and in Leicestershire. She supported the United Nations' Association and Water Aid. All these benefited from her will. She died in 2003.
The salient feature of the collection is Rosemary Bishop's letters to her parents, especially those written during her years at Girton College: these provide a snapshot of undergraduate life in the mid-late 1950s. There are also miscellaneous personal and biographical items, including some photographs. Lastly, there is a set of diaries of Rosemary Bishop's travels, though most of these appear to consist of typed versions of letters written to her parents while on her travels, thus they probably duplicate some of the letters listed at GCPP Bishop 2/1.
The papers were donated in August 2005 by Jean Currie, a friend of Rosemary Bishop, an undergraduate contemporary and executor of her will.