My wife, Sarah Guthrie, who has died aged 80, was involved in setting up a pioneering lunchtime theatre project in the 1960s before home educating our four daughters and establishing an organisation to help other parents do the same.
She went on to teach young asylum seekers and children unable to attend school while simultaneously maintaining a career as a cartoonist for various magazines.
Sarah was born in Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire, to Neville Evans, an oil broker, and his wife, Barbara (nee Bruce). Her father’s work took the family first to the West Midlands, where she went to Bromyard grammar school, and then to Wimbledon, south-west London, where she attended the Ridgway school.
At 17 she dropped out of school and went to France to study at the Alliance Française in Paris, returning to London to become an editorial assistant on Harper’s Bazaar magazine before leaving in 1964 to work on an early listings magazine, Theatre Perimeter.
A cartoon by Sarah Guthrie
In 1966, with two colleagues at the magazine, Bryan King and Paul Adams, she set up London’s first lunchtime theatre – Theatrescope Original Lunch Hour Plays. A ticket would buy a pilchard roll, a banana and a seat in the Little Theatre Club in Garrick Yard, off St Martin’s Lane – with a play by writers such as Harold Pinter, Bertold Brecht and John Mortimer, or improvisation with Keith Johnstone.
After later collaboration with Ed Berman, Theatrescope folded in 1969 and Sarah and I married. Four children followed, all home educated before further and higher education. Sarah also studied for a humanities degree at the Open University, which she gained in 1979.
Having for years drawn cartoons for family amusement, in 1978 Sarah began producing them professionally (using the initials SEG) for magazines such as Peace News, Mslexia, Prospect, Independent Monitor and, for 20 years, Ethical Consumer. She also had a regular strip in the newsletter of an organisation called Education Otherwise (EO).
EO had been established by Sarah and others to support the emerging home education movement with legal and practical advice. After we moved to Thrandeston in Suffolk in 1977, she was an area coordinator for EO and started local home education activity groups.
We had frequent brushes with the local education authority about our own family’s home education, but in the end Suffolk county council actually recruited Sarah to home tutor children who were unable for any reason to attend school. In the early 2000s she taught young asylum seekers at the Norwich International Youth Project.
Theatre came back into her life more recently when she and two friends put on white coats and entertained at street fairs and other events with mock inspections of irrelevant details, such as the tilt of someone’s hat or the length of the mayor’s chain of office.
Sarah was a keen linguist: fluent in French, conversational in Italian and with some basic Russian.
She is survived by me, our daughters, Joanna, Alice, Lydia and Nina, granddaughters Bonnie and Lori, and siblings Sue and Bob.