This is a summary of my entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Muriel Dowding, Lady Dowding (1908-1993), animal rights campaigner, was born in Paddington. She was influenced by her mother’s spiritualist and theosophical views and became a member of the theosophist lodge in Tunbridge Wells and, later, a member of the White Eagle lodge run by the spiritualist Grace Cooke. After her first husband, Jack Maxwell (Max) Whiting, went missing in action over Denmark in May 1944, she contacted Hugh Dowding then Air Chief Marshal (later Baron Dowding) for details of her husband’s mission. He too was a keen spiritualist. They married in 1951. Both Dowdings were active anti-vivisectionists. Hugh used his position in the House of Lords to speak against animal vivisection and against the ways in which animals were poisoned in the wild. Most of his speeches in the Lords were on animal welfare. Muriel became a member of the committee of the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society, founded by Louise Lind af Hageby, and a council member. For many years she chaired the National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS), and in that role, and later as president of the NAVS, she led demonstrations, presented petitions to parliament, represented the organization at international conferences, and helped to increase the public profile of the anti-vivisectionist cause. Her writing for the NAVS drew attention to the part played by women such as Anna Kingsford and Frances Power Cobbe in earlier campaigns.
In the late 1950s Muriel Dowding, with similarly minded friends, founded Beauty without Cruelty, originally to campaign against existing cruel practices in the fashion and cosmetics industry. She helped to publicize the ingredients of cosmetics, in particular the use of whale oil in lipsticks and civet in scent, and the testing of cosmetics and shampoos on animals; she also compiled lists of brands free from cruelty. Beauty without Cruelty held its first official meeting in autumn 1959. Beauty without Cruelty attracted much publicity, helped by the involvement of 1960s model and pro-animal activist Celia Hammond. Hugh Dowding acted as president of Beauty without Cruelty and was patron of the International Association against Painful Experiments. Three years after his death, in February 1970, the Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research, to promote practical alternatives to animal experiments, was established by the NAVS, as was the annual world day for laboratory animals, on his birthday, 24 April. Muriel continued her campaigning work after her husband’s death. As a participant in a televised debate in November 1970 she declared: ‘If we can put a man on the moon, surely we are clever enough if we put our minds to it to evolve the alternatives to using animals’.