Saturday, 9 February 2019

Winifred Mabel Letts (1882 - 1972) – British poet and author

Winifred Mabel Letts featured in the very first commemorative WW1 exhibition we produced - Female Poets of the First World War.  The exhibition was held at the award-winning Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK from November 2012.   

Winifred Mabel Letts was born on 10th February 1882 in Salford, Manchester, formerly in Lancashire.  Her parents were Ernest Frederick Letts, an Anglican church minister and his wife, Mary Isabel, nee Ferrier.  Winifred has the following siblings:  Mary F.S., b. 1877 and Dorothy M., b. 1878.  After the death of Winifred’s father, the family moved to Ireland.

Educated at Abbots Bromley School, Winifred went on to study at Alexandra College in Dublin.  Her career as a writer began in 1907 when  the novels “Waste Castle” and “The Story Spinner” were published.

During the First World War, Winifred joined the Volunteer Aid Detachment and worked as a nurse at Manchester Base Hospitall. She then trained as a medical masseuse with the Almeric Paget Military Massage Corps and worked at Army camps in Manchester and Alnwick, Northumberland.

Winifred’s WW1 poetry collections were “Hallow-e’en, and other poems of the war” (Smith, Elder, 1916) and  “The Spires of Oxford, and other poems” (Dutton, New York, 1917). Her poems were included in 21 WW1 poetry anthologies.

Winifred died on 7th June 1972 at the Tivoli Nursing Home in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland and was buried in Rathcoole, County Dublin.

Sources:  Bairbre O’Hogan, who, as a child, knew Winifred Letts, who was a friend of Bairbre’s Mother.  Bairbre is researching the life of Winifred Mabel Letts and is happy to hear from anyone with queries or information by e-mail to

The photograph of Winifred is reproduced here by kind permission of Bairbre.

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 198

There is a book of the exhibition held at the WOS "Female Poets of the First World War - Volume One" available via Amazon.

The Award-winning Wilfred Owen Story is at 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE. The WOS is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 12 noon until 2 pm. Entry is free.  Please check their website for details:

An exhibition about the WW1 Aftermath and its Legacy is now on display at the WOS.  If you are planning a visit, don't forget to visit the Futility statue in Hamilton Square.