Wednesday, 17 May 2023

Ruth Pitter, CBE (1897 - 1992) – British poet and artist

Ruth was born Emma Thomas Ruth Pitter in Ilford, Essex, UK on 7th November 1897. However, her birth certificate records her Christian name as just being "Ruth."  Her parents were George Pitter and his wife, Louisa Pitter, nee Murrell, who were both primary school teachers.  Ruth was educated at the Coborn School for Girls in London. 

During the First World War, Ruth was employed at the War Office from 1915 to 1917. She went on to work as an artist at a furniture company in Suffolk -Walberswick Peasant Pottery Co.

Ruth’s parents encouraged her to write poetry from an early age.  In 1920, she published her first collection of poems – “First Poems” (London: Cecil Palmer, 1920) - with the help of the poet Hilaire Belloc.

Ruth was the first woman to receive the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, which she was awarded in 1955. In 1979 she was appointed appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), to honour her many contributions to English literature.  In 1974, Ruth was named a "Companion of Literature", the highest honour given by the Royal Society of Literature.

After a long and very industrious life during which she published a good deal of her poems, Ruth died on 29th February 1992.

(NOTE; Prisca Coborn or Cobourne (1622-1701), the widow of a Bow brewer, left property at Bow, Stratford, and Bocking (Essex) to maintain a school for not more than 50 poor children at Bow; the boys were to learn reading, writing, and accounts, and the girls reading, writing, and needlework. The Coopers' Girls' School at 86 Bow Road was renamed Coborn School and moved to new buildings at 31-33 Bow Road, London, E 3 in 1898.)

Sources:  Free BMD, Find my Past

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Ethel Turner (1870 – 1958) - British-born Australian novelist, poet and children's literature writer.

My grateful thanks to Rupert Brooke Remembered on Facebook, for posting the poem about Rupert Brooke written by Ethel , with additional information about Ethel on which enabled me to amend my previous mentions of Ethel.  

Born Ethel Mary Burwell on 24th January 1870 in Balby, a suburb of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, UK, her parents were Bennett George Burwell, who was a commercial traveller (salesman), and his wife, Sarah Jane Burwell, nee Shaw. Ethel’s father died when she was two, leaving a Sarah Jane a widow with two daughters - Ethel and her sister Lillian, who was born in 1867.  Following her remarriage to Henry Turner, who was 20 years her senior and had six children of his own, Sarah Jane and Henry had a daughter, Rose. Henry Turner died suddenly, leaving Sarah Jane with nine children. In 1879, Sarah Jane moved to Australia with Lilian, Ethel and Rose.  

Educated at Paddington, New South Wales Public School and Sydney Girls High School, Ethel began her writing career when she was eighteen, founding the “Parthenon”, a journal for young people, with her sister Lillian. Using the pen-name 'Dame Durden', Ethel wrote children's columns for the “Illustrated Sydney News” and the “Australian Town and Country Journal”.

In 1896, Ethel married Herbert Curlewis, a lawyer. 

During the First World War (1914-1918) Ethel demonstrated that she was a staunch patriot - she worked hard on patriotic campaigns, including advocacy for conscription, Australian intake of European war orphans and raising funds for soldiers’ homes. 

In 1915, along with other fundraising work, Ethel wrote a song to raise money for the Red Cross.  She also campaigned for the early closing of hotels and “sobriety in wartime” (1915), as well as giving support to the wartime referendum for the 6 o’clock closing of pubs (1916). 

In order to raise money for soldiers returning to Australia after the war, Ethel co-edited “The Australian Soldiers’ Gift Book” with Bertram Stevens (Voluntary Workers' Association, Sydney, N.S.W.,1918).

Ethel died on 8th April 1958 and was buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery in Sydney.

Ethel's poem about WW1 poet Rupert Brooke, which was published in "Poetry Magazine", edited by Harriet Monroe, in June 1924:


Find my Past, FreeBMD

Monday, 10 April 2023

Ada Tessibel Peters, born c. 1901 and Ethel Pauline Peters, born c. 1903 – American sisters who were both poets

 With grateful thanks to Historian, Poet and Writer AC Benus* for finding these important poets and their poetry for us

The girls’ parents were Robert E. Peters and his wife Ethel Peters, nee Hughes, and the family lived in Beckley, West Virginia., United States of America.    

"The sisters were known in the poetical world as "The Peters Sisters." The Peters Sisters have had very limited education. Each of them spent one and one half years in high school at the Institute. West Virginia. Their teacher was Prof. Byrd Prillerman."

By William F. Denny from The Introduction to their poetry collection “War poems” by Ada Tessibel Peters and Ethel Pauline Peters (Union publishing Co., Charleston, West Virginia, 1919). 


The sole intention of the Authors in writing these poems is to show the Negro's loyalty to the Stars and Stripes, in the war with Germany; and to show  the need of unity of all men in the fight for democracy. The Authors.” From the sisters' WW1 collection “War poems” by Ada Tessibel Peters and Ethel Pauline Peters (Union publishing Co., Charleston, West Virginia, 1919) 

OUR WAR WITH GERMANY. Poem by Ada Tessibel Peters


America and her Allies are now engaged 

In a war that freedom might live, 

That all nations may not be enslaved 

Giving as all True Americans would give 

Fighting lest Germany's Kaiser should spread 

The spirit of feudalism over the earth, 

That the Sons of Liberty may not be led 

Captives from the land of their birth. 


While foreign field were strewn with dead 

With folded arms we merely looked on 

'Till the wronged people believed and said 

"They are gamblers, in search of coin." 

We became apoligist for our neutriality 

While an uncivilized war waged on 

Devoid of all principle and morality 

Urged on by brutes in human form. 


When the country of Belgium was invaded 

And It's inhabitants tortured and slain 

When other defenseless towns were raided 

And mines in neutral waters were lain 

When the smoldering ruins of France we saw 

The home of the world's greatest arts 

Then Humanity forced us into this war 

For America too, must do her part. 


The Imperial German Government smiled

When the Sussex, and Lusitania went down 

Unwarningly murdering American lives 

While on peaceful missions bound 

Should not this wicked and hideous crime 

That sent our friends to watery graves 

Help more close our hearts to bind 

And strengthen us on our rugged way?

“War Poems” Pages 9 – 10 

read the remainder of the poem – pages 10 – 15  here



Oh wandering pilgrims of Virginia, 

Who made you noted men. 

Whom was ever your defender. 

And proved old Glory's friend. 

Was it not back in sixteen 

For slaves of your selfish will. 

When your unfree tongues were still, 

You ignorantly bought pearls unseen, 

For slaves of your selfish will. 


In vales and on historic hills, 

Where your gallant heroes sleep, 

Once Ethiophians your soil tilled, 

From dawn till sunset peace. 

Raised grain and your cattle fed, 

In your business planned and advised, 

Without place to lay their heads 

Your own pearls unrecognized. 

Your own pearls unrecognised.


From tobacco made you wealthy, 

Your cruelty was humbly borne 

Slave cooks made you healthy,  

Black boys protected your homes, 

With maimed bodies and chained hands, 

Died to make your sons free, 

Rare gems in a slave land. 

Robbed of rights and liberty. 

From “War Poems” page 48). Read the remainder of the poem on pages 49 - 51 here

Sources:  Find my Past and

*AC Benus is the author of a book about German WW1 poet Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele : “The Thousandth Regiment: A Translation of and Commentary on Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele’s War Poems” by AC Benus (AC Benus, San Francisco, 2020). Along with Hans's story, the book includes original poems as well as translations.    ISBN: 978-1657220584

Friday, 7 April 2023

A poem by American poet Lucy Larcom published in "Bystander" Magazine in 1917

 Although the writer of this lovely poem - found for us by Historian Debbie Cameron - was not alive during WW1 - the sentiments in the poem are fitting for WW1 and it was published in "The Bystander" magazine in April 1917 – which is why I have included it here.

Lucy Larcom (March 5, 1824 – April 17, 1893) was an American teacher, poet, and author. 

Lucy was born in Beverley, Massachusetts on 5th March 1824.  Her parents were Benjamin and Lois Larcom.

After the death of Lucy's father, Lucy's Mother went to work in a boarding house in Lowell, where the girls who worked in Lowell's textile mills lived.  Lucy and her siblings found employment in the mills and Lucy wrote about her experiences.

Here is the poem published in "Bystander":

“Do Something” published in The “Bystander”, April 1917 

IF the world seems cool to you,

Kindle fires to warm it!

Let their comfort hide from you

Winters that deform it.

Hearts as frozen as your own

To that radiance gather;

You will soon forget to moan,

"Ah! the cheerless weather!"

If the world's a "vale of tears,"

Smile till rainbows span it;

Breathe the love that life endears --

Clear from clouds to fan it.

Of your gladness lend a gleam

Unto souls that shiver;

Show them how dark sorrow's stream

Blends with hope's bright river.

Lucy Larcom

The "Bystander" was a British weekly tabloid magazine that featured reviews, topical drawings, cartoons, poems and short stories. Published from Fleet Street, it was established in 1903 by George Holt Thomas.

Historian Debbie Cameron is the creator of the Group Group Remembering British Women in WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Ella D. Farrar (1866 - 1929) – journalist, writer and poet

With thanks to Debbie Cameron and Michael Day for their research into Ella D. Farrar 

WW1 poem found by Debbie and Biographical details found by Michael Day

Ella D. Farrar was born in 1866 in Hartlepool, Durham, UK.  Her parents were William Farrar and his wife, Mary Anne Farrar, nee Edwards.   Ella had a sister – Hilda M. Farrar – who was born in 1869.  

On the 1881 Census, we find Ella boarding  - presumably at school – in Reweley House, 7, Welington Square, Oxford St Giles, Headington, Oxfordshire, UK.  It seems Ella may have been a teacher before becoming a journalist and writer.  

On the 1911 Census, Ella is described at a writer and sub-editor for the Amalgamated Press. By 1921, Ella and her sister were living in Hemel Hempstead, Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, UK, where Ella died in 1929. 

The poem was found by Debbie Cameron and posted on her Facebook Group

“Forget-me-Not – A Pictorial Journal for the Home’ ,which began publication in 1891, was one of the many periodicals founded by Alfred Harmsworth. Along with “Answers” (1888) and “Comic Cuts” (1890), “Forget-Me-Not”(1891) was the backbone of what was on its way to becoming the largest publishing empire in the world, the Amalgamated Press. Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865 – 14 August 1922), was a British newspaper and publishing magnate. As owner of the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, he was an early developer of popular journalism, and he exercised vast influence over British popular opinion during the Edwardian era. Lord Beaverbrook said he was "the greatest figure who ever strode down Fleet Street."

“Forget-Me-Not” was based in London’s Tudor Street, which runs south to the Thames from Fleet Street, with the advertising sold by Greenberg & Co. just up the road at 80 Chancery Lane. The imprint reveals a third address, for “Forget-Me-Not” was printed by The Geraldine Press at 21 Whitefriars St, which runs parallel to Fleet St but nearer the Thames.

Like all the penny magazines, it was a cheap affair though, on newsprint with a greenish cover not unlike “Tit-Bits”, the model for “Answers”, for which Alfred had worked. The masthead page inside described “Forget-Me-Not” as ‘the most useful home paper’ and it carried fashion hints and articles on fancy work and households management, as well as fiction. The best illustrations were saved for the paper patterns that readers had to send for at a shilling or two each. None of the articles or illustrations carried a byline.

Most of the pages carried marketing messages printed at the bottom such as: 'Forget-Me-Not is a great help to young couples in all household matters’; ‘Home, Sweet Home [another Amalgamated title] is published on Fridays – 1d’; ‘Answers is the paper for a railway journey’; and ‘This paper is published every Thursday’. 

Amalgamated Press aimed to have a magazine for all types of readers with three women’s weeklies, the smaller format “Home Chat” making up the trio. 

One of the editors of Forget-Me-Not, a Hungarian called Arkas Sapt, has been credited with developing a new way of publishing several pictures on a spread, a technique that was to be vital in reinvigorating the Daily Mirror as an illustrated paper after its flagging launch.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Ethel Stonehouse (1888 - 1974) – British poet

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this wonderful poem written after WW1 by Ethel, and to Philip Michael Tomaselli for additional information about Ethel.

Ethel was born Ethel Raine on 3rd June 1888.  It seems her father may have been Raine, Walter, J.P., M.P. Chairman of J. Raine & Son Ltd., Coal Exporters and Shipbrokers, Sunderland and Newcastle-on-Tyne, but I haven't been able to find that out for certain.  If anyone can help please get in touch.  

During the First World War, Ethel was as “a member of the British Security Service between 1915 and 1920, working in the Military Permit Office, which issued permits for civilians to visit the Military Zone in Northern France (also Egypt and other places under army control). This included a fast track system to allow relatives of soldiers in hospital in France who were dying to visit with the minimum of paperwork (which they had to complete on their way back...).

In 1920, Ethel married Daniel Wilfred Stonehouse (1883 – 1958), who had served in the Royal Garrison Artillery in WW1.  The couple had one son – Maximillian – born in July 1927 and  lived in Cottingham, Haltemprice in 1939.

Ethel died in 1974.

Here is the poem written by Ethel Stonehouse:

"Ave Atque Vale"  (Tr. From Latin Hail and Farewell)

When we have gone our different ways

And idle memory sometimes strays

To dim remember’d wartime days

When women toe’d the line,

We may from out some dusty nook

Produce this little Office book

And open it to take a look

For sake of auld lang syne.

We’ll think of when we had the ’flu,

The days we had to ‘muddle through’,

And all the work we used to do

To snare the wily Hun,

Of times when strafs were in the air

And worried secretaries would tear

Great handfuls of their flowing hair

And swear at everyone.

We’ll think with something like regret

Of all the jolly friends we met;

The jokes that we remember yet

Will once again revive.

Here’s to the book that’s just begun!

May it recall to every one

The jokes and laughter and the fun

We had in M. I. 5.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and

Debbie Cameron’s original source:

Here are links to Debbie Cameron’s Facebook Group Remembering British Women in WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas and her Weblog