Saturday, 3 December 2016

Female Poets of the First World War Volume 2 now out

In time for Christmas.   Volume 2 concentrates on British poets and features some of the lesser-known women writers.  Also featured is poetry written by Munitions Workers and Schoolgirls, plus a guest article about poetry and knitting in WW1 by Phil Dawes.

To order a copy please go to http://www.poshupnorth.com/2016/09/female-poets-of-first-world-war-volume-2_27.html

"Wonderful book - well researched. Definitely worth getting a copy" - Dominic Sheridan.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Exciting News from the May Sinclair Society!

Exciting news regarding May Sinclair, who was one of the most important and famous writers at the time of WW1 on both sides of the Atlantic.  May helped to fund, and accompanied, Dr. Hector Munro’s Flying Ambulance Unit to France in September 1914.  She stayed to help out for six weeks before returning to Britain to write about her experiences.  May Sinclair was the first poet I researched for the exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War at the Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.  May is also one of the poets featured in Volume 1 of Female Poets of the First World War, available from http://www.poshupnorth.com/2013/08/new-title-female-poets-of-first-world.html - also available as a download.

From: Dr Rebecca Bowler (Keele University), Dr Claire Drewery (Sheffield Hallam), and Suzanne Raitt (William & Mary College)
“We received some exciting news yesterday: our proposal for a series of critical editions of May Sinclair's works has been approved by Edinburgh University Press!

The Edinburgh Critical Editions of the Works of May Sinclair will publish Sinclair’s collected prose works: twenty-one novels, six short story collections (bundled in two volumes of ‘shorter fiction’), two volumes of philosophy, one biography (of the Brontë sisters) and one memoir (of the First World War). There will also be one volume of Sinclair’s collected non-fiction, including The Way of Sublimation. Non-fiction and fiction will appear side by side so that the dialogues between each can be explored. Rebecca Bowler, Claire Drewery and Suzanne Raitt are the General Editors.

May Sinclair was an innovative and influential Modernist writer, and these critical editions will, we hope, attract further scholarship on her writings and revive interest in Sinclair as an important modernist writer and public intellectual.

We will be in touch in the New Year with a call for expressions of interest from scholars who wish to edit individual volumes.”

Find out more about The May Sinclair Society - http://www.maysinclairsociety.com
And follow them on Facebook here - http://www.facebook.com/maysinclairsociety

The Wilfred Owen Story, 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK, CH41 6AE. Open Tuesday - Friday 11 am till 2 pm or by appointment o7903 337995.
http://www.wilfredowenstory.com/news.html

Also on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wilfredowenstory

 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 – 1919) – American poet “The Poetess of Passion”

Many people today may know the line “Smile and the world smiles with you” from Ella’s poem “Solitude”, first published in “The New York Sun” in 1898, but how many people have heard of the American 'poetess of passion'?   “Ella Wheeler Wilcox was probably the most widely read poet of the day” selling 100,000 copies of her poetry collection “One Hundred Poems” in the early years of the twentieth century (Hollis, 40). 

When planning his trip to America, Rupert Brooke suggested he might take a “message for the continent of America and for Ella Wheeler” (Hollis, 67).

Ella travelled to France during the First World War to read poetry to the American Troops.  They were very pleased to see her and really appreciated her performances. In spite of her fame, Ella Wheeler Wilcox is now one of the ‘forgotten’ poets of the First World War.

Ella features in Volume 1 of Female Poets of the First World War available from www.poshupnorth.com

Also available as a download.

Source:  “Now all Roads lead to France  The Last Years of Edward Thomas” by Matthew Hollis (Faber & Faber, London, 2012)

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Carolyn Wells (1862 - 1942) - American writer, poet and journalist

Carolyn was born on 18th June 1862 in Rahway, New Jersey, USA.   Her parents were William Edmund Wells and his wife Anna Wells nee Potter Woodruff.  Two of Carolyn's sisters died in childhood.

At the age of six, Carolyn contracted Scarlet Fever and as a result suffered a loss of hearing.  She nevertheless overcame the handicap and went on to graduate from school and was then taught at home by private tutors, studying the humanities and science.  Carolyn worked as a librarian at Rahway Library Association.  During her life-time, Carolyn wrote and had published over 170 books including detective stories, children's books, humour, parody and poetry.  Her work was published in "Punch" magazine and she also wrote for various newspapers and contributed to "The Yellow Book".   Her detective books were particularly popular.  In 1913, she published "The Technique of the Mystery Story".

In 1918, at the age of 55, Carolyn married 62-year old widower Hadwin Houghton who was heir to the Houghton-Mifflin publishing company.  The couple went to live in an apartment block in Manhatten where Hadwin died the following year.  Carolyn lived in New York until her death on 26th March 1942.

Carolyn's life-story "The Rest of my Life" was published in 1937.

With grateful thanks to Dr. Margaret Stetz, May and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities, Delaware University, USA for bringing Carolyn Wells to my attention and for suggesting I look at the following poem written by Carolyn and published in 1919:

BALLADE OF WAR BOOKS BY CAROLYN WELLS

I seem to wander in a world of books,
With titles such as, "'Neath the Trumpet's Blare",
And "Sammy Fire-Away!" and "Private Snooks", And "Hank, the Yank", and "Danny Do-and-Dare!" And though the war is over, Over There,
Yet must be published books already penned They pour from presses daily I declare
Of making many war books there's no end!
And, somehow I opine-the way it looks - That for an aftermath we must prepare:
Adventure yarns of wartime cranks and crooks, And lives of heroes who have done their share. True tales of noble deeds of courage rare;
Histories of events, as yet unkenned: Journals and diaries, and such small ware-
Of making many war books there's no end !
And there'll be messages from soldier spooks, Transmitted through a wily medium's care;
Telling of waving trees and limpid brooks
Where rove the souls who've climbed the Golden Stair: And poems "Lyric Lines To France, the Fair",
"Red Poppy Fields", "My Faithful Four Years' Friend", "Heroic Feet", "A Lock of Lemuel's Hair"-
Of making many war books there's no end ! L'Etoile:
Publisher, Printer, Editor, forbear !
Nor longer than you must, your lists extend :
Do let this gushing output stop somewhere Of making many war books there's no end !

First published in "The Bookman", January 1919, page 643

Sources:  

Dr. Margaret Stetz "The Transatlantic" and late Nineteenth-Century American Women's Humor" published in "Studies in American Humor", Volume 1, 2015, Pensylvania State University, PA.

"Encyclopedia of American Humorists" Edited by Stephen H. Gale, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxford, 1988

"Mysteries Unlocked Essays in Honour of Douglas G. Greene, edited by Curtis Evans, published by McFarland and Company, Jefferson, 2014

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

May Sinclair Letter to the publisher John Lane

Exciting news from the May Sinclair Society about a letter discovered recently tucked away in one of May Sinclair's books. 

It seems that May was very much a part of the London literary scene during the time of the First World War.  "Theophilus Boll places her at a party Lane gave in 1914 to launch Wyndham Lewis’s Blast! (‘May Sinclair enjoyed herself hugely with Ivor Brown at the dinner that John Lane gave on July 15, 1914, at the Dieudonné Restaurant in Ryder Street, St. James, to set off the Blast!’). Ivor Brown said of this ‘I don’t know how far M.S. was impressed, but at that period she liked to go about and be in the midst of literary goings-on’."

Read more on the Society's website:
https://maysinclairsociety.com/2016/11/02/discovery-letter-from-may-sinclair-to-john-lane-31-december-1917/


100th anniversary of the publishing of the poem "To the Vanguard" by Beatrix Brice Miller

Today, 2nd November 2016, marks the centenary of the publication of the poem "To the Vanguard" by British poet Beatrix Brice Miller in "The Times" newspaper.  Beatrix and her Mother went as Lady Helpers with the British Expeditionary Force in 1914.   Beatrix never forgot the first men to go to the continent in 1914 - The "Old Contemptibles" as they became known.   She campaigned tirelessly for memorials to them and held fund-raising events to make that possible.

Beatrix is one of the poets featured in Volume Two of "Female Poets of the First World War" which also includes other British women poets as well as sections about munitions workers and poetry written by schoolgirls at the time of WW1.  Also included is Phil Dawes' article about knitting in WW1.

You can purchase Volume Two of "Female Poets of the First World War" on-line now via http://www.poshupnorth.com/2016/09/female-poets-of-first-world-war-volume-2_27.html

With grateful thanks to everyone who supports this commemorative project and all those who helped in the collection of the poems in Volume 2, to Phil Dawes for his continued support and for the article on poetry and knitting in WW1, Roger Quinn for information about Janet Begbie (WW1 poet Harold Begbie's daughter), David Reynolds for information about Beatrix Brice Miller and to Paul Breeze who edits all my work.

Photo:  Dr. Margaret Stetz who is Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware, USA.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Ella Mary Stratton (1898 - 1981) - British

With many thanks to Phil Dawes who has researched Ella M. Stratton for me.  This is what Phil wrote:

Ella Mary Stratton was born on 31st July 1898, in the village of Haverigg, near Millom in the Coounty of Cumberland, which is now called south Cumbria.  The area was at that time a centre for iron ore smelting.  Her father was the Reverend Watson Stratton, curate at St Luke’s Church, a small Anglican Chapel-of -Ease.  Ella’s mother was Sarah Stratton, nee Simpson and her parents were married in Huntingdon in 1862.

Ella’s father was not the typical churchman and his modest curacy probably reflected his modest background which was as a Fenland farm labourer’s son. 

On the 1911 census, Ella was a 12 year old schoolgirl. Her father was by then curate of St. David’s Church in the tiny village of Airmyn near Goole, Yorkshire. He was a regular contributor to the local paper on a wide range of topics including the natural world and growing vegetables.

In 1914 Ella’s poem ‘The Navy’ was selected by Dr. Charles Forshaw for inclusion in his anthology ‘One Hundred Best Poems on the European War by Women Poets of the Empire’. It was written when she was just 16 years old.   

A brief report of Ella’s marriage in the “Telegraph” gives us a glimpse of her achievements prior to June 1932, when she married Ewart John Buxton, a dentist, at Peterborough Cathedral.  She is described as ‘Ella Mary Stratton MBBS London, MRCS, LRCP, DTM’.   From this we can infer that she attended the London Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine for Women and that she qualified as a doctor and subsequently became a surgeon.

A slightly longer report from the “Derby Times” of 13th June 1932 gives us an added dimension: Ella is described as a doctor who has been working for three years in the Gold Coast, West Africa for the British Government.   It appears that she had only just got back in time for the ceremony in the Cathedral as she was wearing ‘travelling clothes’ rather than a wedding dress. We also find that both her parents are dead, hence perhaps the note that the couple ‘were married quietly’.  Ella was given away by her cousin Alex Shelton, from Ramsey in the Fens.

The newlyweds settled down in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where Ewart worked as a Dental Surgeon.  In those days it was still normal, even obligatory in some professions, for a married woman to give up work. On the 1939 war-time census we find that Ella’s  job is listed as ‘Unpaid domestic duties’, but she must have told the enumerator of her previous career as underneath is written: ‘Medical practitioner, retired’.  Another note tells us that both of the Buxtons were doing wartime duties during the Second World War for the Air Raid Patrol by ‘assisting at local First Aid Post’.

Ella and Ewart must have eventually retired back to the region of her birth in south west Cumbria. Ewart died in Ulverston district in 1976 and Ella died in Barrow-in-Furness district in 1981, aged 83.

Phil Dawes, 27th October 2016

Ella’s poem “THE NAVY” was published in “One Hundred of the Best Poems on the European War by Women Poets of the Empire”, Edited by Dr. Charles Forshaw, FRSL, founder of the International Institute of British Poetry (Elliot Stock, London, 1916)

Long, low, dark and grey,
Sinister warships at break of day,
Silently steaming our coasts around,
Straining at the leash as a tracker's hound.

Small, dark periscope top,
Showing a moment, — the next to drop,
Shattered at last by a gunner's skill.
One less submarine working ill.

Long, lean sides of the ship
Leaving no chance for torpedo to rip,
Searchlight so dazzling revealing the night,
Speed — to o'ertake the foeman in flight.

Men of the Navy, we give you your due,
None so enduring, unselfish as you,
Giving your all in the rush and the strife,
Guarding our honour and guarding our life.