Rita Bronowski 1918 - 2010

born in:
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

Born in London into an orthodox Jewish family, Rita was one of five children of Benjamin and Celia Coblentz. At the age of 14 she won a scholarship to St Martins School of Art, where, as well as developing into a fine sculptor, she was, memorably, the figure on the top of the St Martins float at the Chelsea Arts Club ball, wearing only a thong, and painted gold from head to toe. She worked as an artist and sculptor as Rita Colin.

She married Jacob Bronowski (Bruno) in 1941 and the couple's first two children were born during his service in the second world war. In 1964, they moved to La Jolla, California, at the invitation of the research scientist Jonas Salk. They had four daughters, including the historian of science Lisa Jardine.

After Jacob’s sudden death when she was 55, Rita embarked on the career in public life she had been unable to have as the wife who put aside her own ambitions to support his stellar career. In the 1980s, she became a founding member of the revived La Jolla Playhouse and remained an emeritus member of the governing board until her death. She was featured on San Diego's KPBS television when she provided a commentary to accompany the US transmission of ‘The Ascent of Man’. She became an active leader in the San Diego English Speaking Union, organising the Shakespeare competition for high-school students.

[Adapted from Lisa Jardine’s Obituary, Guardian, 22.09.2010]