Obituary: Teresa, Lady Rothschild

Noel Annan's obituary of Tess Rothschild [31 May] gives an unsatisfactory picture of her, a profile from the angle of her having been to a great extent an appendage of establishment figures. She was much more than that, writes Judith Hubback.

She and I met on our first day at Newnham in 1935. Already her knowledge of people and of literature was sophisticated, wide and deep. She knew how to link it in a balanced way to contemporary politics. Over the years since then we continued to cover a whole span of subjects from world events, home affairs (we did not always agree), books and ideas of many kinds, all the way to the interests and successes of our children and grandchildren.

While talking freely, Tess never gossiped. She tended to minimise how much her friends owed to her unaffected way of always being herself, and perhaps did not realise fully how much she influenced people through her reliable steadiness. But I think she did know that she was both respected for her public work which grew out of being a very able magistrate, and loved for her basic respect for other people.

Being a JP was fully compatible with being Victor Rothschild's wife; they admired each other's work and did not interfere. She appreciated what her family and friends did and urged them towards their potential. As she knew difficulties, illnesses and bereavements from personal experience, she drew on how she had responded to them, to empathise with any who were also troubled.

She was always sensible, as well as sensitive and wise.