Sunday, 14 July 2013

Female Poets of the First World War Exhibition at the Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead - 2013

In April 2012, I volunteered to help out 'behind the scenes' at The Wilfred Owen Story which is a museum to the memory of the poet in Birkenhead's Argyle Street.   Why did I volunteer?  I had seen a performance of Dean Johnson's "Bullets and Daffodils" at the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood, where Wilfred Owen was based at the Gunnery School in November 1916 before going to France.

I was so impressed with what I saw and, because I went to school just around the corner from the Birkenhead Institute where Wilfred Owen was educated, I stopped to chat to the cast.   I learnt that they are presenting this amazing drama on a shoestring and they were looking for people to help.  When I heard where the museum was situated, I had to smile - I was in Argyle House at school.

About a year ago, Dean asked me to produce an exhibition for the museum on the theme of women who wrote poetry during the First World War so I began by looking for a poet who was Wirral-born.  I discovered that May Sinclair, one of the most important women writers of the era, was been born in Rock Ferry.  My research snowballed as I read more and discovered there were many women who wrote poetry at that time, many of whom have been forgotten.

I received a very nice e-mail from Janet Holmes yesterday (13th July 2013).   Janet is an artist and a potter.  She is also the Stage Manager of "Bullets and Daffodils".  This is what she wrote"

"I was in the Wilfred Owen Story yesterday and some people were commenting on your display of the Female War Poets... 

They were very taken with the stories of the women, they also loved the way the pieces had been printed and presented. They thought the layout would make a wonderful book. Something that they would like to own. I told them all about you and what your plans are. 

The visitors the the Wilfred Owen Story do find your exhibition fascinating and many comment that they had no idea about the role so many women had in the war and the poetry."

Janet runs The Rathbone Studio at 28 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral CH41 6AE.  Website:  Janet is also Stage Manager of the wonderful drama about Wilfred Owen - "Bullet and Daffodils" - written by Dean Johnson, Wirral singer/songwriter who also oversees the running of the museum to the memory of Wilfred Owen - The Wilfred Owen Story, 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE.  Website:   This is staffed by volunteers and depends entirely on donations.

See also "Bullet and Daffodils", the world's first musical drama about the life and works of the poet Wilfred Owen who was killed in France just one week before the Armistice. The company have recently returned from London where they had a very successful week's run.  Website:

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