Saturday, 9 October 2021

Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne (1869-1931) – British poet

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for reminding me

that I had not fully researched Elizabeth and for finding the poem, photograph

and cover of one of Elizabeth's collections featured here.

Elizabeth Gibson was born in Hexham, Northumberland, UK in January 1869, the birth being registered in the first quarter of the year and the Baptism taking place on 16th January 1869.  Elizabeth’s parents were John Pattison Gibson, a chemist, and his wife, Judith Frances, nee Walton (1836 - 1902), who were married in September 1861.

Elizabeth had the following siblings: Frances, b. 1864, Clara, b. 1866, John, b. 1872, Constance, b. 1873, Anna, b. 1874, Mary, b. 1876, Wilfrid, b. 1879 and Muriel, b. 1880.   Wilfrid also became a poet.

By 1911, Elizabeth described herself in the Census return as an author.

In September 191, Elizabeth married Thomas Kelly Cheyne in Falmouth. Thomas Kelly Cheyne, FBA (18 September 1841 – 1915) was an English divine and Biblical critic.  She then used the name Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne for her writing.

"A Poet to His Poems"  (1915) by Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne (1869-1931)

published in the magazine “Poetry”, September 1915.

You are born; you are no more mine:

I have let you go forever.

Demoniac or divine,

You shall sail by sea and river;


You shall walk by road and track;

You shall fly through wind and weather;

But nevermore come back,

That our hearts may laugh together.

There is an excellent biography of Elizabeth written by Judy Greenway

Debbie Cameron’s Facebook Group Remembering British Women in WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas is well worth perusing

Monday, 4 October 2021

Hester Gatty (1906 - 1973) – British poet and artist who married WW1 soldier poet Siegfried Sassoon

Hester Gatty
Hester Gatty was born In Kensington, London, UK on 16th March 1906. Her parents were Sir Stephen Herbert Gatty and his second wife, Kathleen, nee Morrison. 

Sir Stephen Herbert Gatty (1849-1922) was son of the children's author, Margaret Scott Gatty (herself the daughter of Nelson's confidential secretary and chaplain, Dr Scott) and brother of the writer Juliana Horatia Ewing and herald Alfred Scott Gatty.  Sir Stephen was the Chief Justice of Gibraltar from 16th  January 1895 to 1905 and was formerly a judge of the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements. On 19th December 1904, he was named a Knight Bachelor.

Hester’s siblings were Oliver Gatty (1907-1940) and Richard Gatty (1909-1975).

“Ventures in Verse by Members of the Scratch Society” was a selection of 31 poems published in December 1924 by Arthur H. Stockwell.   The poems included were written mainly by women authors, though there are three by a Michael Dugdale. Hester Gatty (later Siegfried Sassoon’s wife), was a member of the Society and she has three poems in this book, “From the Hebrides,” “Tired” and “Moon-Beam.” 

The Scratch Society was a group of poets and story writers who formed this society, et regularly in each other's homes and occasionally got their work into print.  Members of the Scratch Society included Georgina Blakiston, Jan Struther and Nancy Cunard.  Evelyn Waugh, Cyril Connolly and John Betjman also attended meetings.  American singer Paul Robeson visited once.

Source:  A post written by David Gray of Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and posted on the Fellowship's Facebook page.

Here is one of the poems wriitten by Hester and included in the collection: 

I would love to know if Hester wrote any poetry when she was a schoolgirl during the First World War. As some of you may know, I have been collecting poetry written by schoolchildren during 1914 - 1919 and in March 2018 held an exhibition about some of them.  Here is a link to a news report about the opening of the exhibition of Poetry written by Schoolchildren during WW1 at the Wilfred Owen Story, Wirral on 17th March 2018:

Exhibition of Poetry written by
Schoolchildren, The Wilfred Owen Story, Wirral,
March 2018

A poem written during WW1 in honour of "The Lads of Heywood" by a Miss E.H. Bisby, aged twelve

 Miss E.H. Bisby age 12   “The Lads of Heywood” poem 

A poem entitled "The Lads of Heywood" found on Facebook written by Miss E.H. Bisby, aged 12

Heywood is in Greater Manchester.

According to my research, there is a birth recorded for an Edith Harriet Bisby in the first quarter of 1903. She was born in Bispham, Blackpool, Lancashire - Mother’s maiden name Heywood.  I wonder if that was the writer of the poem?

Here is the 1911 Census for the Bisby family.  

1911 Census For England & Wales

9 Wild Street Heywood, Heywood, Lancashire, England

Household members (4 people)

First name(s) Last name Relationship Marital status Sex Age Birth year Occupation Birth place

Ambrose Robert Bisby Head Married Male 45 1866 Superintendent insurance co Tunstall Staffordshire

Emma Bisby Wife Married Female 48 1863 - Heywood Lancashire

Robert Heywood Bisby Son Single Male 18 1893 Peicer cotton mill mule Heywood Lancashire

Edith Harret Bisby Daughter - Female 8 1903 - Bispham Blackpool Lanc

If anyone knows anything please get in touch. 

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Catherine Amy Dawson Scott (1865 – 1934 - British writer, playwright and poet.

Catherine is perhaps best known as a co-founder of International PEN, a worldwide association of writers.  Although she was a poet I have not yet been able to find any of Catherine's poems

Catherine Amy Dawson was born in August 1865. Her parents were  Ebenezer Dawson, a brick manufacturer and his wife Catherine, nee Armstrong.  Catherine had a sister - Ellen M. Dawson - born in 1868. The Journalist, writer, novelist and poet Henry Dawson Lowry (22 February 1869 – 21 October 1906) was their cousin. Amy and Ellen’s mother died in January 1877.   In 1878, their father remarried. According to the 1881 Census, the girls and their stepmother were living or staying with her widowed mother, Sarah Ancell, in Camberwell, where Catherine A. Dawson graduated from The Anglo German College

When she was eighteen, Catherine began working as a secretary. In June 1896, Catherine married Dr. Horatio Francis Ninian Scott. They lived in Hanover Square in London, where their first child, Marjorie Catharine Waiora Scott, was born in 1899 and a son, Horatio Christopher L. Scott, was born in March 1901. The family moved to West Cowes on the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1902, where they lived for the next seven years. Another child, Edward Walter Lucas Scott, nicknamed Toby, was born in June 1904.

At the start of the First World War, Dr Scott volunteered to join the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and was posted to France.   Meanwhile, with the help of the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, Catherine founded The Women’s Defence Relief Corps in August 1914.   

When Catherine and her husband returned from their wartime service, they found it impossible to resume their relationship as before, after the traumatic (and empowering, for Catherine) experiences of the war.  They were divorced and Dr. Scott commited suicide in 1922.

If anyone can help find poems by Catherine please get in touch. 

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Isobel Wylie Hutchison (1889 - 1982) - Scottish writer, poet, artist, Arctic traveller and botanist

 With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for sending me the

poem that set me off researching Isobel Wylie Hutchison

Portrait of Isobel in 1935
by David Foggie RSA
Isobel Wylie Hutchison was born in Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Scotland, on 30th May 1889.   Her parents were Thomas Hutchison, who had been a merchant with the East India Company, and his wife, Jeannie, nee Wylie. The family home was Carlowrie Castle, Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Scotland.   Isobel began writing at an early age, kept diaries from 1903, and edited "The Scribbler", a magazine created by the family. Isobel learnt Italian, Gaelic, Greek, Hebrew, Danish, Icelandic, Greenlandic and also learnt some Inuit words.

Isobel's youngest brother, Frank, (Francis J. b. 1897) died in 1912 at the age of 16 in a climbing accident in the Cairngorms and his loss affected her deeply. Another brother, Thomas Walter, (b. 1886) was killed in the First World War.

From 1917 to 1918, Hutchison studied business training, marketing, religion and languages, at Studley College in Warwickshire, which had been set up for the education of young women in agriculture. During 1918, things were very bad, with little food for the animals and all the men gone to the war. Influenza swept through the college and some students died. 

In 1920, Isobel suffered a mental breakdown but was sustained by her continued success with her writing - her poetry was acclaimed by “The Scotsman” newspaper and she began writing a novel.  She began travelling in 1924 and painted many scenes from her adventures, visiting the Arctic, apan, China, Trans-Siberian Railway, Moscow, Poland, Berlin, Estonia and Denmark.

After the Second World War, Isobel gave talks on the radio for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Carlowrie Castle was very run down after the war, having been used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Isolbel needed to continue working in order to pay for repairs and maintenance. Electricity was only installed there in 1951.

In later life Isobel suffered from Arthritis, but this did not stop her working.  She died at Carlowrie Cast;e in 1982, aged 92 and is buried in the northern cemetery in Kirkliston, along with her sister, Hilda Scott Primrose Hutchison (b. 1892).

Isobel’s WW1 poetry collection, “Lyrics from West Lothian” (Pillans & Wilson, 1916), was privately p rinted and sold in aid of the Red Cross Fund and she had a poem published in "A book of twentieth-century Scots verse" Edited by William Robb and published by Gowans & Gray in 1925.

“A Book of Twentieth-century Scots Verse” Edited by William Robb (Gowans & Gray, 1925)

 Her other poetry collections were:

How Joy was found: A Fantasy in Verse in Five Acts. London: Blackie; New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1917

The Calling of the Bride. Stirling: E. Mackay, 1926

The Song of the Bride. London: De La More, 1927

The Northern Gate. London: De La More, 1927

Lyrics from Greenland. London: Blackie, 1935

Other works by Isobel Wylie Hutchison:

Original Companions. London: Bodley Head, 1929

The Eagle's Gift: Alaska Eskimo Tales. New York: Doubleday Doran, 1932

Flowers and Farming in Greenland. Edinburgh: T. A. Constable, 1930

On Greenland’s Closed Shore: The Fairyland of the Arctic. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1930

North to the Rime-Ringed Sun: Being a Record of an Alaska-Canadian Journey Made in 1933-34. London: Blackie, 1934, 1935; New York: Hillman-Curl, 1937

With August Masik: Arctic Nights Entertainment: Being the Narrative of an Alaskan Estonian Digger, August Masik, as told to Isobel Wylie Hutchison. Glasgow: Blackie, 1935

Stepping Stones from Alaska to Asia. London: Blackie, 1937

She had articles published in  the WNational Geographic" magazine:

"Walking Tour across Iceland", April 1928

"Riddle of the Aleutians", December 1942

"Scotland in Wartime", June 1943

"Wales in Wartime", June 1944

"Bonnie Scotland, Post-war Style", May 1946

"2000 Miles through Europe’s Oldest Kingdom", February 1949

"A Stroll to London", August 1950

"A Stroll to Venice", September 1951

"Shetland and Orkney, Britain’s Far North", October 1953

"From Barra to Butt in the Hebrides", October 1954

"A Stroll to John o' Groats", July 1956

"Poets' Voices Linger in Scottish Shrines", October 1957

Isobel had several other articles published in many journals and newspapers. and gave more than 500 lectures during the course of her life. The plants she collected during travels are in Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and the British Museum. Some of the artefacts she collected are on display in the National Museum of Scotland and the Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge).


Find my Past

Reilly,Catherine W.  "English Poetry of the First World War: A Biblioigraphy" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 177 and p. 25.

Hoyle, Gwyneth “Flowers in the Snow: the Life of Isobel Wylie Hutchison” (Nebraska University Press, 2001). 

Portrait of Isobel in 1935 by David Foggie RSA (31 December 1878 Dundee – 2 June 1948)

Poem from “The Westminster Gazette” 3 November 1916

"The Westminster Gazette" was a Liberal newspaper based in London, founded in 1893. It was known for publishing sketches and short stories, including early works by Raymond Chandler, Anthony Hope, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, and Saki, and travel writing by Rupert Brooke. One of its editors was caricaturist and political cartoonist Francis Carruthers Gould. The paper was dubbed the "pea-green incorruptible" – Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone having personally approved its green colour. It was merged into its leading Liberal rival, The Daily News on 1 February 1928.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Mary Lloyd McConnel (1860 - 1957) – poet and writer

Grateful thanks to Jim Marshall of the Harlech Old Library in Wales who sent  me a copy of the cover of one of Mary's collections. Additional information kindly supplied by Jose Holford @JosieHolford via Twitter

Mary Lloyd was born on 28th December 1860.  She married John McConnel, of Yorkshire and they lived in Larkfield, Ilkley, Yorkshire. Mary met Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Concord, New Hampshire, USA:  

"In 1904, Mrs. Mary Lloyd McConnel, of Ilkley, England, was in First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Concord, New Hampshire, when Mrs. Eddy spoke there..."

On the 1939 Census, Mary is listed as widowed and living at Larkfield, Skipton Rd. Ilkley, Yorkshire. She listed her occupation as a "Christian Science Practitioner".  Mary died on 19th March 1957. 

Mary’s WW1 collections were:

“Songs In The Night” by Mary Lloyd McConnel published in 1920 by William Walker & Sons Ltd. - 72 pages of poems.

“Songs of Aftermath” by Mary LLoyd McConnel published by William Walker and Sons Ltd., January 1927  - see cover photo kindly sent by Jim Maxwell.

Mary seems to have published two collections of poems about WW1:

“Songs In The Night” by Mary Lloyd McConnel published in 1920 by William Walker & Sons Ltd. - 72 pages of poems.

“Songs of Aftermath” by Mary LLoyd McConnel published by William Walker and Sons Ltd., January 1927 - see cover left kindly sent by Jim Maxwell.

Mary Lloyd McConnel also seems to have written for the "The Christian Science Monitor", as the following poem was published by them.   She is not listed in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978).  If anyone can help please get in touch.  The Christian Science Monitor was a daily newspaper founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ Scientist.

"There is no death!" a poem by Mary Lloyd McConnel

O Death! At home they call it death —

And sit and weep because they think

Their sons beloved are slain, 

And they are left alone

To mourn their dead.

While we, across the trenches' top,

Have leaped to Life, and find

We have but left behind

The rags and blood and dirt

Of grimy battle field, and —

A great host of us,

All eager, happy, and alive —

Are pressing onwards toward a goal

We dimly see of duty, beauty,

Love, and Life, which calls us on

To tasks more glorious than

We could achieve midst stress

And storm and reek of cannon smoke.

Hark! You can hear us calling

From each to each a greeting

As we meet, — comrades and erstwhile foe.

"Friend! Is this all to death?

Why should we ever fear

This passing through a shadow

Which but seems a moment's shock,

As though we had but bowed our heads

To pass beneath a narrow doorway

From some dugout small, and found

Ourselves a little blinded by the light

Which shines from Heaven's eternal day?

 ou here! — You too! — And you!

 How glad we are to find

 Each other, and to prove

 There is no death!"

By Mary Lloyd McConnel

[Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor]

Christian Science Sentinel, September 21, 1918

"Unfoldment" by Mary Lloyd McConnel

There was a small community of Christian Scientists meeting in a humble "upper chamber." None were rich in this world's goods, but all were eager that everything pertaining to the services should reflect beauty and harmony. Although no rule was made, a tacit understanding existed that little expenditure was to be incurred for flowers, as funds could be employed to better advantage in furthering the cause of library and distribution work. At the beginning of each season a list was made of the women attending the services, and each one was to be responsible for one Sunday's floral offering.

Through this channel came to one woman an unlooked for opportunity in the practical development of her own garden. She had relied upon the periodical visits of a gardener, and so long as things looked neat she had remained content to imagine herself too busy in other ways to spare time or attention for out of doors. However, as the weeks went by she began to wonder what her garden would produce by the time her name appeared upon the "flower list." In looking around she discovered greater possibilities than she had known to exist, and soon found that the more she cut and gave away the more profusely her flowers bloomed, and that in sharing her garden with friends and neighbors she was learning to enjoy it as she had never done before.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Isa Constance Miles (1881 – 1962) - Poet and writer - pen names Marjory Damon and Marjory Royce

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this poet for us.

Debbie has a Facebook page commemorating the women of WW1

Photograph of Isa found by
'Majory Royce' was one of the pen names used by Isa Constance Nicoll, who was born in Kelso, Scotland on 22nd June 1881. Her parents were Sir William Robertson Nicoll (1851 – 1923 -  a Scottish Free Church minister, journalist, editor, and man of letters - who founded the “British Weekly”, a Nonconformist newspaper, with the help of publishers Hodder and Stoughton), and his wife, Isabella, nee Dunlop (1857–1894).  Isa’s brother was Henry Maurice Dunlop Nicoll (1884 –1953), who became a noted psychiatrist.  After the death of their mother in 1894, their father married Catherine Pollard (1863–1960) and Isa and Henry had a half-sister - Mildred Robertson Nicoll (1898–1995).


Isa grew up in Hampstead, London, where the family lived after Sir William's health necessitated retirement from the church. In 1909, she married Elystan Miles, who was at that time a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, and the couple lived in Eltham in south east London, and in Hampshire. In addition to the children's fiction, which Isa wrote and published using her pen name Marjory Royce, she also wrote and published work using her married name - Constance Miles.  On the 1939 Census, Isa and her husband were living in Shere in Guildford, Surrey and she listed her occupation as Journalist.  

Isa died on 22nd January 1962. 


 YOU, who have always loved the garden so, 

Oh, Mother, are you wandering there to-night? 

While yet the July roses blush and blow, 

And the tall border blooms in the fading light. 

The lovely corners that I used to know — 

I think them over, I remember well .... 

Down in this old dug-out, time passes slow 

Amid the hum and screaming of the shell. 

Through all the sadness there's one thought to cheer- 

That English gardens still in peace may grow 

Tranquil and safe. You are still happy, dear. 

You, who have always loved the garden so ! 

From "One hundred of the best poems on the European War by Women Poets of the Empire" .- Edited by Forshaw, Charles Frederick (Elliott Stock, London, 1916) p. 138

which is available to read as a free download from Archive:


Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) page 280  listed as Marjory Royce 
Find my past
Free BMD  
and Debbie Cameron 

Interestingly, under the surname Miles in her Bibliography of WW1 English poetry, Reilly also lists
Miles – pen name of Osbert Sitwell - Reilly p. 224

Patrick Miles – poet - Reilly p. 224

Susan Miles - pen name of Ursula Roberts - Reilly p. 224