Shirley Marsh was born in Mussoorie, a hill station in the United Provinces of India, on 8 June 1932, the daughter of Percy William Marsh, who had joined the Indian Civil Service in 1905, and Joan Mary Beecroft, who was the headmistress of a school for Muslim girls in Aligarh in the United Provinces. Shirley and her brother Peter were educated in India and in England. She then read History at Girton College from 1950-53.
Shirley joined the Home Civil Service in 1953 as an Assistant Principal in HM Treasury, working first of all in Overseas Finance. She became Private Secretary to the head of the Treasury, Sir Roger Makins, in 1957, and a Private Secretary to the Chancellor, Derrick Heathcoat Amory, in 1959, returning to Overseas Finance in 1960, with a two-year loan to the Department for Trade and Industry from 1964 to 1966.
In the meantime, in September 1958, she had married Geoffrey Littler, whom she had met in the Treasury in 1954. Their son Peter was born in 1967.
Shirley spent two years from 1969-71 at the recently established Prices and Incomes Board [her bound collection of the reports of the Board is held by Girton College Library]. In 1971 she was appointed Secretary to the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Vehicle and General Insurance Company.
In 1972, Shirley left the Treasury and joined the Home Office, where she took on a variety of interesting roles. In particular she was the senior official working on the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 [her connections with equal opportunities and the Sex Discrimination Act are documented in a piece she wrote for 'Girton College: Thirty Years in the Life of a Cambridge College', 2005, compiled by Marilyn Strathern.] She also spent two years in the Police Department dealing with police discipline and complaints, powers and procedures. (Shirley was later, for several years and without remuneration, a Trustee of the Police Foundation.)
Shirley was promoted to Under Secretary in 1978. In her last years in the Home Office she was, from 1978-81, head of the Broadcasting Department (in which she chaired working parties on Welsh Language Broadcasting (the Littler report was published in 1978), Local Radio and Satellite Broadcasting), and then, from 1981-83, in charge of the Immigration and Nationality Department.
In 1983 Shirley was head-hunted by the Independent Broadcasting Authority, taking up the post of Director of Administration. She became Deputy Director-General in 1986, Acting Director-General in 1989 and Director-General in 1990.
Towards the end of 1991 Shirley was asked to chair a Working Party of clinicians to oversee a system of confidential enquiries into stillbirths and deaths in infancy (CESDI). She continued as chairman of CESDI until 1999, but her main employment was the chairmanship of the Gaming Board for Great Britain from 1992-98. After her retirement from the latter position she continued an interest in gaming regulation, following closely the Government proposals for new gambling legislation.
In 1999 Shirley Littler was made an Honorary Commoner of Girton College and later Bodichon Fellow. She helped the College to collect funds for the Library and Archive extension (the Duke Building): she and Geoffrey were major donors and the Littler Reading Room is named after them. In addition to the papers listed below, she also gave to the College the official portrait, by Linda Atherton, of her as Director-General of the IBA.
These notes form a brief outline of Shirley Littler's life and career and are derived from much more detailed notes which Shirley herself compiled in January 2008. A copy of the full version is attached to the hard copy catalogue in the Littler Reading Room.
Shirley Littler died in London on 28 March 2009.
The papers listed here relate to various aspects of Shirley Littler's work. There are papers relating to the following:
1) the inquiry into the collapse of the Vehicle and General Insurance Company, 1971-72;
2) Equal Opportunities legislation, 1974-90;
3) policing matters, 1981-2000;
4) The Independent Broadcasting Authority and broadcasting policy and legislation, 1953-2002;
5) The Gaming Board for Great Britain and gambling legislation, 1968-2006;
6) CESDI (Confidential Enquiries into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy), 1988-2003.
The fullest collections are those relating to broadcasting and gambling. The bulk of the material consists of published papers, but some of the material on gambling has not been published, including Shirley Littler's speeches to trade associations etc.
Donated by Shirley Littler on February 13 2008.