Doreen Valiente was born Mitcham, South London January 4 1922. She grew up in the West of England. Her studies in magick began as a teenager with simple magick. Her first marriage was in 1941 at the age of 19. Her husband disappeared less than 6 months later. In 1944 she married Casmiro Valiente.
In 1952 she was introduced to Gerald Gardner by a member of New Forest Coven. A year later, she received her first year initiation by Gerald Gardener. Doreen recognized some information in Gardenerís Book of Shadows as the work of Alleister Crowley. When she confronted him about this, he replied that the work he had been given was incomplete and he had filled in the rest as best as he could. He asked her if she could do better and she did, the end result being what is known today as Wicca.
She eventually ceased contact with Gerald Gardener. She felt that he was compromising the security of the coven through his contact with the media. Doreen kept her magickal activities private, in part because her mother didn't know she was a witch.
Her mother died in 1964, as did Gerald Gardener. Witchcraft was becoming more acceptable. Many witches spoke openly to the media. Doreen did not deny paganism, nor did she hesitate to speak out in it's defense, but she remained low key.
In 1972, Casmiro Valiente died, leaving her alone. She concentrated on writing books. She published An ABC of Witchcraft in 1972 followed by Natural Magic in 1975.
In 1972, a member of British Parliament attempted to pass legislation that would ban witchcraft. A ban on witchcraft would have a been a loss of religious freedom to many people. It could have potentially resulted in innocent people losing their jobs, homes, children and freedom. It could have started a modern day witch hunt.
Doreen challenged this attempt and lobbied the concerned member of Parliament. As it turned out, the man was entirely uninformed as to what modern day witchcraft actually is. As a result of Doreen's intervention, the laws were not passed.
She spoke of this experience at the National Conference of the Pagan Federation November 22, 1997. "I well remember back in the 1970s going to the Houses of parliament to lobby a Welsh MP who was proposing to get the old Witchcraft Act back on the Statute Book, after some silly posturing on TV by our old friend Alex Sanders. The Mp and his wife proved to be very nice people, and gave me tea in the tea-room of the House of Commons. I do not know what sort of person they expected to meet, but after I had talked to them and explained what present day witchcraft was really all about, I am glad to say that the proposed ban on witchcraft never materialised. I remember too telling the representatives of the media who questioned me about my visit, that witches would consider going to International Court of Justice to claim our civil rights, if such a ban ever again did become law in this country."
She became ill in 1999. She had cancer and other illnesses. She spent her last days in a nursing home. She died September 1, 1999 at 6:55 AM. She willed her large collection of Magickal items, books and artifacts to the Centre for Pagan Studies.
The above quote from the speech at National Conference of the Pagan Federation
was taken from http://users.drak.net/Lilitu/valiente.htm The speech can be read in it's entirety there.