It is always exciting to discover a hitherto unknown poet. With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for this information and for additional information to Lizbet Tobin on Debbie’s Facebook Page Remembering British Women In WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas
By 1911, Ethel was living in Great Harwood, Lancashire with her mother and described herself as a cotton cop winder and journalist. In June 1915, Ethel married Alfred Holdsworth.
Although he shared his wife’s socialist and anti-war views and may have applied for exemption on conscientious grounds, Alfred enlisted in the East Lancashire Regiment and was posted to the Western Front in 1917. Ethel was a socialist, a pacifist and anti conscription. She carried a red flag to the railway station to see her husband off. Ten months later, in 1918, he was reported missing, presumed dead. Later that year, Alfred was discovered alive in a British hospital, having been transferred from a prisoner of war camp.
|A poem by Ethel Carnie that Debbie Cameron found in magazine “The Woman Worker”, the magazine of the Federaton of Women Workers.|
Ethel protested against the introduction of conscription in WWI, addressed 20,000 women during the Women’s Peace Crusade and chaired local meetings of the British Citizen Party. After her marriage, Ethel used her married name when writing.
During the 1920s Ethel edited and produced “The Clear Light”, an anti-fascist journal, with her husband. She recognised the threat of Mussolini in the early 1930s.
Dr Kathleen Bell is one of the leading figures in the campaign to introduce the work of the long-forgotten writer to a new generation. She writes that:
“at its best, Holdsworth’s poetry illuminates the gap between working-class people’s desire for liberty, often evident in their imaginative capacity, and the constraints and suffering of their lives”.
Ethel’s novel “Helen of Four Gates” (1917) was filmed in 1920. Lizbet Tobin discovered that prints exist in the Cinémathèque Québécoise film archive [35mm positive], and in the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House film archive [16mm reduction positive] and that there is a clip available:
Published works by Ethel:
Rhymes from the Factory (Blackburn: Denham, 1907)
Songs of a Factory Girl (London: Headley Brothers, 1911)
The Lamp Girl, and other stories (London: Headley Brothers, 1913)
Miss Nobody (London: Methuen, 1913) (Reprinted with new Introduction: Kennedy & Boyd, 2013)
Voices of Womanhood (London: Headley Brothers, 1914)
Helen of Four Gates (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1917) (Reprinted with new Introduction: Kennedy & Boyd, 2016)
The Taming of Nan (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1919)
The Marriage of Elizabeth (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1920)
The House that Jill Built (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1920)
General Belinda (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1924) (Reprinted with new Introduction: Kennedy & Boyd, 2019)
This Slavery (London: Labour Publishing Company, 1925)
The Quest of the Golden Garter (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1927)
Eagles' Crag (London: Stanley Paul, 1928)
Barbara Dennison (London: Stanley Paul, 1929)
Roger Smalley Uclan Thesis