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Elizabeth Gray Vining Edit Profile


Elizabeth Janet Gray Vining was an American professional librarian and author who tutored Emperor Akihito of Japan in English while he was crown prince.


Vining, Elizabeth Gray was born on October 6, 1902 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Daughter of John Gordon and Anne (Iszard) Gray.


AB, Bryn Mawr College, 1923. Master of Science in liberal studies, Drexel Institute of Technology, 1926. Doctor of Letters, Drexel Institute of Technology, 1951.

Doctor of Letters, Tufts College, 1952. Doctor of Letters, Douglas College, 1953. Doctor of Letters, Women's Medical College Philadelphia, 1953.

Doctor of Letters, Lafayette College, 1956. Doctor of Letters, University North Carolina-Greensboro, 1968. Doctor of Humane Letters, Russell Sage College, 1952.

Doctor of Humane Letters, Haverford College, 1958. Doctor of Humane Letters, Western College Women, 1959. Doctor of Humane Letters, Cedar Crest College, 1959.

Doctor of Humane Letters, Moravian College, 1961. Doctor of Humane Letters, Wilmington College, 1962. Doctor of Humane Letters, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan, 1966.

D.Ed., Rhode Island College Education, 1956.


She was a graduate of Germantown Friends School and received an AB from Bryn Mawr College in 1923. In 1926, she earned an MS in library science from the Drexel Institute, and became a librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her convalescence, she converted to the Quaker faith.

She had published eleven books by the end of World War II. From 1946 to 1950 during the Allied occupation of Japan after the war, Vining was selected by Emperor Hirohito himself (and not the United States government, as is erroneously claimed) to become a private tutor to Crown Prince Akihito, the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne. As part of her teaching program, she arranged for closely supervised occasions when four Western teenaged boys in Tokyo would get together to help the crown prince practice English conversation. In addition to teaching English-language skills, Vining introduced the children of the Imperial Household — Prince Hitachi and the Princesses Kazuko, Atsuko and Takako — to Western values and culture.

She also lectured at Gakushuin University and at Tsuda College. After her return to the United States, Vining wrote a book about her experiences in Japan in Windows for the Crown Prince, which appeared in 1952. Vining went on to write over 60 fiction and non-fiction books in her lifetime.

She also worked on the Board of Trustees of Bryn Mawr, as vice-president from 1952 to 1971 and was vice-chairwoman of the Board of Directors at the same time. She received an honorary Doctorate of Literature from Wilmington College in 1962. Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1950.


  • Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1950\r\nOrder of the Precious Crown.



Married Morgan Fisher Vining, Jan 31, 1929 (deceased 1933).

John Gordon Gray

Anne (Iszard) Gray

Morgan Fisher Vining