Thursday, 13 October 2016

Alexandra Etheldred Grantham (pen-name A.E.G.) (1868 - 1945) - German-born poet

With many thanks to 'Michael Bully' who reminded me that I had not yet researched or posted A.E.G.  Michael has a wonderful website dedicated to the Sea Poetry of the First World War and has recently started a website about the poetry of the Second World War:
Alexandra Etheldred Sylvia Mary Emily von Herder was born in Germany.  She was the youngest daughter of Alexander von Herder of Schloss Sabastein, Thurgen, Lake Constance and his wife, Countess Anne, nee Wilding, daughter of Count Ernest Wilhelm Wilding von Königsbrűck, 1st Prince of Radali.

Alexandra studied at Girton College, Cambridge.  On 28th April 1894, Alexandra married Frederick William Grantham, the second son of Sir William Grantham JP of Eaton Square London.  They were married at St. George’s church in Hannover Square, London.   Alexandra and Frederick had the following children:

Hugo Frederick born 1895
Alexander William George born 1899
Eric Howard, born and died 1901
And Godfrey Harry born 1911.

Frederick, who was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, had joined the Volunteers while at university.  Frederick was called to the Bar, Inner Temple in 1895.  In 1893 he joined the Post Office Rifles as a Reserve Officer and in 1899 the Militia of the Royal Munster Fusiliers.  He served in South Africa during the Boer War and was awarded The Queen’s Medal in 1902.

As a Reserve Officer, Frederick volunteered for active service on 6th August 1914. He attained the rank of Captain and was posted to France with the Royal Munster Fusiliers on 22nd September 1914.   He was killed on 9th May 1915 near Richbourg l’Avoue but was initially reported as wounded and missing, which must have been very hard for Alexandra, of German birth and with three sons, one of whom was also fighting in France - Hugo Frederick joined the 1st Battalion of the 44th Foot Essex Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant and was killed on 28th June 1915 fighting in Gallipoli.  He was mentioned in despatches.   Hugo was buried at Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery in Gallipoli.

Godfrey was killed during the Second World War in June 1942.

Alexander went on to become a Governor of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Fire Service named a fireboat in his honour.

Alexandra’s WW1 collection “Mater dolorosa” was published in 1915 by Heinemann and dedicated to Hugo Frederick Grantham.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)

Alexandra’s collection “Per Aspera ad Astra“, published in 1907 is available here