Tuesday 28 January 2014

"War Girls" CD and download - Review

My grateful thanks to Dorothy Claire who brought this to my attention.

“War Girls” is an anthology of poetry and prose in CD or MP3 form, put together and read by Ruth Sillers from poetry and prose written by women who lived through the First World War.   My Mother was four years old when war broke out and she had vivid memories about which she spoke often, so I am extremely interested in anything to do with WW1.

Ruth Sillers has worked for the National Youth Theatre, The Royal National Theatre Studio, Donmar Warehouse and the BBC.   Ruth’s soothing voice brings us an insight into the role of women during the First World War, from the outbreak until the Armistice.  Ruth reads a selection of poetry from works featured in Catherine Reilly’s “Scars upon my Heart” and prose from Joyce Marlow’s “Women and the Great War”, among them, Violet Thurston, Katharine Tynan, Helena Swanwick, Helen Hamilton, Anna Gordon Keown, Sarah Macnaughton, Charlotte Mew, Katherine Mansfield, Nora Griffiths, Jessie Pope, E. Sylvia Pankhurst, Madeline Ida Bedford, Olive May Taylor, Edith Sitwell, Maude Onions, Winifred M. Letts, Helen Dircks, M. Winifred Wedgwood, Eva Dobell, Teresa Hooley, Aelfrida Tillyard, Eleanour Norton, Nancy Cunard, Lilian Baylis, Eileen Newton, May Wedderburn Cannan, Carola Oman, Virginia Woolf, Marjorie Wilson and Sara Teasdale.

Skilfully interwoven with a musical accompaniment featuring some of the well-known WW1 airs such as “If you were the only girl in the world”, “Oh Oh, Antonio”, “After the Ball”, the “Rose of No Man’s Land”, “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, “Roses of Picardy”, “Till we meet again” and featuring “The Last Post”, Ruth brings us a delightful reminder of the debt we owe to the women whose contribution to the First World War has, until now, been largely overlooked.   I found this CD extremely inspirational.

“War Girls” is available as a download or a CD from Crimson Cats Audio Books – www.crimsoncats.co.uk;  e-mail:  editor@crimsoncats.co.uk   You can also find Crimson Cats on Facebook: 

Monday 27 January 2014

Berta Lask (1878 - 1967) - German

As today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, I thought I would share a Jewish Poet with you.

The following text has been researched translated and written by Penelope Monkhouse from Germany.  Thank you Penelope :

Berta Lask (1878 Wadowice (then in Habsburgian Galicia-Lodomeria) – 1967 Berlin) was the daughter of a Jewish paper manufacturer and sister of the philosopher Emil Lask. 

From 1885 the family lived in Brandenburg and Berta attended school at Bad Freienwalde, where she began writing. In 1894-1895 she attended secondary school in Berlin. 

Berta married the neurologist and histologist Louis Jacobsohn, fifteen years her senior, in 1901 and the couple had four children. Her first play Auf dem Hinterhof, vier Treppen links was written in 1912 and her poetry collections Stimmen and Rufe aus dem Dunkel were published in 1919 and 1921. 

Following the impressions of poverty in Berlin gained through her husband’s practice, Berta Lask became involved in the bourgeois women’s movement. After the October revolution in Russia and the November revolution of 1918 in Berlin, she became more radical and began publishing in the Rote Fahne and other communist papers. 

Berta joined the Communist Party in 1923. Propagandist literature then followed, including chorus Die Toten rufen - Sprechchor sum Gedenken an Karl Liebknecht ind Rosa Luxemburg, the plays Leuna 1921 orThomas Müntzer and several children’s books.   During the 1920s Berta was accused of treason several times; her printed plays were confiscated and performances banned. However in 1927, all accusations against her were dropped. 

In 1928 Berta helped to found the union of proletarian-revolutionary writers (BPRS) and became its second secretary.  After the accession of the national socialist regime, she was temporally arrested but was able to emigrate Moscow in June 1933, where she carried out publicity work. In 1936 her husband, daughter-in-law and granddaughter joined her. Berta then went to Sebastopol/Crimea with her husband, where he had found work as a doctor. 

From the summer of 1941 to the autumn of 1944 Berta lived with her son Hermann in Archangel.   In1953  she went to Moscow again, returning in August that year to Eastern Germany (GDR), where she died in Berlin in 1967. 


R. Wall: Lexikon deutschsprachiger Schriftstellerinnen im Exil 1933-1945, Haland & Wirth/ Psychosozial-Verlag 2004, ISBN 3-89806-229-5, S. 238-241 
W. Emmerich: Lask, Berta, in: Neue Deutsche Biographie 13 (1982), S. 647 f. [URL: http://www.deutsche-biographie.de/pnd116748729.html , accessed 5.8.2013.]

Sunday 26 January 2014

Beatrix Brice Miller (1877 - 1959) - British


Beatrix was born in Chile of British parents on 20th January 1877. Her parents were Brice Alan Miller,from Kentish Town - a South American merchant - and his wife Mary Louise Brice Miller, nee Walker, from Charlton, Kent.  Beatrix was educated privately.

When her Father died, the family returned to England and Beatrix lived in Goring-on-Thames and later Chelsea.

Beatrix and her Mother served with the BEF, travelling to France in 1914 as  Red Cross VAD ‘Lady Helpers’ (as opposed to ‘Trained Nurses’). 

After the War, Beatrix dedicated herself to ensuring the exploits of the brave ‘Old Contemptibles’ of the First Seven Divisions were not forgotten – that our debt to them be repaid and their memory honoured.

Beatrix wrote the poem “To the Vanguard” which was first published in “The Times” newspaper of 2nd November 1916 and which became among the best-remembered verses of the War.  

Beatrix and her Mother, Mary Louise Brice Miller were mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s dispatch published in the London Gazette on 29th May 1917, among the names of the trained nurses and lady helpers to be honoured by the King in a special investiture in Hyde park on 2nd June.

In 1917 Beatrix organised a special pageant in the Royal Albert Hall to commemorate the battles of the original BEF and collaborated with General Sir William Pultenay in “The Immortal Salient” which was a record and guide to the Ypres.

In 1937 she worked on a documentary for the BBC about the fighting from Mons to Ypres from August to November 1914.   According to “The Times”, this was broadcast in August 1939.

After her death on 25th May 1959 at the age of 82, Beatrix left in her will a bequest to ensure the building of a memorial to the BEF, 1914.

 An e-mail from David Reynolds, Beatrix Brice Miller’s great nephew corrected my initial spelling of her name which he found through my weblog.  David continued:  “She wrote the poem that begins ‘Oh little mighty force that stood for England…’ in 1914 about the BEF.

It became quite famous and was a favourite among the old soldiers of those regiments, nicknamed ‘The Old Contemptibles”.  When she died, there was a memorial service at St. Martin in the Fields church.  I was a child and don’t remember much about it, except that the church was full of old soldiers in uniforms with medals.” 

Internet Sources:  “The Times” Archive 1959-06-24-12 and “British Journal of Nursing”, 2nd July 1917 and e-mail from David Reynolds

With thanks to the late, greatSue Light of The Scarlet Helpers website for her help in finding out what 'Lady Helpers' were - http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/

The poem “To the Vanguard” by Beatrix Brice Miller was first published in  “The Times” newspaper, London, UK, on 2nd November 1916

According to Catherine W. Reilly in heer wonderful book “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography (St. Martin’s Press, New Yoirk, 1978),   p. 66 - Beatrix's poetry collections were "All souls: to the first seven divisions, the fallen, the prisoners, the disabled, and those still fighting" - a Christmas card, 1916.
"To the vanguard, and other songs to the seven divisions (poems" (Bickers, 1917), and her poems were included in three WW1 poetry anthologies.

“To the Vanguard “

OH little mighty Force that stood for England ! 
That, with your bodies for a living shield, 
Guarded her slow awaking, that defied 
The sudden challenge of tremendous odds 
And fought the rushing legions to a stand — 
Then stark in grim endurance held the line. 
O little Force that in your agony 
Stood fast while England girt her armour on. 
Held high our honour in your wounded hands, 
Carried our honour safe with bleeding feet — 
We have no glory great enough for you. 
The very soul of Britain keeps your day! 
Procession? — Marches forth a Race in Arms; 
And, for the thunder of the crowd's applause, 
Crash upon crash the voice of monstrous guns, 
Fed by the sweat, served by the life of England, 
Shouting your battle-cry across the world. 
Oh, little mighty Force, your way is ours, 
This land inviolate your monument. 

Beatrix Brice.

From: “Valour and vision: poems of the war, 1914 –1918” (Longmans Green, London, 1920) Arranged and edited by Jacqueline T. Trotter (Longmans, Green & Co., London 1920) “To the Vanguard” is on pages 11 - 12. 



"Canadian Poets of the Great War" - Review

I mentioned this book briefly yesterday - I am very grateful indeed to Christine from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada for sending me a copy of the book "Canadian Poets of the Great War".  Christine came second in the International Section of the 2013 Pendle War Poetry Competition.  You can hear Christine's very moving poem here:  http://www.bestkeptsecrets.biz/2013/11/pendle-war-poetry-prize-winner.html

Christine knows that I am researching women who wrote poetry during WW1 - thank you Christine.  Whilst I am hoping to include examples of poetry from all corners of the globe in order to illustrate that this was the First World War, I am particularly aware of the sacrifice made so willingly and so often by our cousins in Canada.   As Stanley Kaye (who started the Facebook Group Remembering the First World War in 2014 one hundred years) always says - WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

I have now had a chance to look at the anthology of poems which was edited by William Douw Lighthall and published in 1918 for The Royal Society of Canada.  The reproduction of Volume XII - Third Series 1918 - has been printed by BiblioLife LLC as 'part of an unique project that provides opportunities for readers, educators and researchers by bringing hard-to-find original publications back into print at reasonable prices'.   

This is an enchanting anthology containing some of the poems written by Canadians about the First World War.  Some were written by serving soldiers, some by women - and I will be having a closer look at both poems and poets and adding them to my ever-growing list - and one in French. 

As Mr Lighthall so aptly sums up on the final page of his anthology:

"There will never be a greater fight.   There will never be a vaster battlefield..."

"The poets may perhaps not yet be born who shall invent utterances that shall be truly worthy of the innumerable heroic achievements, the Galahadic dedications to the supreme sacrifice, the wonderful idealism of the whole crusade..."  - page LXII.

My thoughts entirely!

Do have a look at the publishers' website - www.bibliolife.com

Photo:  Canadian National War Memorial Vimy Ridge, France.   Google Images.


by René d'Avril.

"Beaux et forts, l'œil hardi, cambrant leur haute taille
Affrontant les dangers trops connus, - la mitraille,
Les gaz, le froid, le chaud, la boue, et loin des leurs
Ne pensant qu'au pays dont flottent les couleurs, -
Pays qui les rassemble en un même uniforme.
Ils sont aux premiers rangs de cette lutte énorme,
Héros de bronze clair qu'envierait un sculpteur.

Ils ont quitté le sole du logis enchanteur,
Plus de rire d'enfants, sous le ciel gris de France
Mais l'attaque de nuit, l'implacable défense
Et la gloire qui passe en funèbre appareil.

.    .    .    .    .

Ils sont du Canada, non loin de Montréal ….
Vast image émergeant des brouillards de la Somme:
O grands lacs, O grands fleuves lents, grands champs de blé,
Pays ou tout est grand, même le cœur de l'homme!

(Paris, Hôpital de l"Ecosse) - page LIX of the Anthology.

(I think that should be 'surtout le coeur de l'homme'...)

Saturday 25 January 2014

Nadja Malacrida (1895 - 1934) - British

I have spent today trying to find out more about Nadja Malacrida - who I discovered yesterday evening by chance while I was looking for something else.     My list of poets grows daily and I have to thank everyone who has sent in suggestions.  I hope to bring you a Revised List shortly.

Nadja was the pen-name of Louisa Nadia Green, daughter of Mr and Mrs Charles Green and niece of Lord Cowdray.  Nadja was born in Hampstead, London, UK on 15th June 1895.  By all accounts Nadia became an accomplished athlete and also obtained her pilot's licence.

During the First World War, Nadja published three volumes of poetry - "Love and War" a collection of her poems which was published in 1915,  "For Empire and other poems" published in 1916 (Arthur L. Humphreys) and "The Full Heart"  published in 1919.   All of these were sold in aid of St. Dunstans Home for Blind Soldiers* in London and The Star and Garter Home for Disabled Soldiers in Richmond.

On 6th December 1922, Nadja married Pier Malacrida de Saint-August, an Italian Marquess, with whom she collaborated on the writing of novels.  Nadja was also a broadcaster for the BBC,  regularly organising poetry readings which were very popular.   She wrote a syndicated newspaper column and introduced the idea of 'cuaserie recital' musical evenings.

Nadja took part in an early John Logie Baird television broadcast on 22nd February 1933, when from 11 - 11.30 television by the Baird Process (vision) was broadcast.   Sound was separate via the Wireless on 398.9 m. and the programme was only available in London.

During 1933 and 1934 Nadja was often heard on the radio on National Programme (193kc-s 1554.4 m) reading extracts from popular books of both prose and poems, under the name Nadja Green.

Nadia and her husband were very popular in London's society scene and Pier, who had studied engineering at Leeds University was an interior designer, working on many prominent projects in London in the 1920s and 1930s.   They were friends of Cecil Roberts the author who lent them his country cottage "Pilgrim Cottage" near Henley while he was on a Greek cruise.   On her way back to London, Nadja's car left the road and she was killed instantly on 3rd October 1934.

Source:  A day spent trawling various Internet sites, including The Times Archives and The British Newspaper Archive

Photo:  From Google Images of the oil painting of Nadja by Italian Painter Ettore Tito.

* St. Dunstan's still exists but the charity is now known as Blind Veterans UK.

Finding Canadian Poets of WW1 and Constance Ada Renshaw and Nadja Malacrida

Thank you to Christine from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada - who came second in the Overseas Section of the 2013 International Pendle War Poetry Competition.   Christine very kindly sending me a wonderful anthology of Canadian WW1 poetry, which I am reading through with great enjoyment.

"Canadian poets of the Great War", edited by William Douw Lighthall and published by BiblioLife, LLC.  This is a reproduction of the anthology first published in 1918 by the Royal Society of Canada.

I receive a great deal of help from different people for which I am truly grateful and for which I would like to say a really big THANK YOU.   With your help I hope to be able to find, write about and share poems with you of many of the lesser-known women who wrote poetry during the First World War.

This is very much an on-going project.  Just yesterday while I was looking for some poems written by Constance Ada Renshaw to send to Pierre in France, when I found another WW1 female poet I had not heard of - NADJA MALACRIDA.   I am now searching for biographical information about Nadja as well as examples of her poems.

I will do my best to bring further information to you as soon as possible.

If anyone knows anything about either Constance Ada Renshaw or Nadja Malacrida that is not available on the Internet, please get in touch.   Thank you.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Elizabeth Wordsworth (1840 - 1932)

Elizabeth was born in 1840 in Harrow where her father, Christopher Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln was headmaster of Harrow School.   Her great uncle was the poet William Wordsworth.

Educated at home, Elizabeth was encouraged in her studies by her parents and studied the classics and modern languages and began writing poetry at an early age, sending articles and poems to the children’s magazine “Monthly Packet”.   She founded Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford for female undergraduates.

After inheriting some money from her father, Elizabeth founded St. Hugh’s Hall in his memory.  This was initially a college for women undergraduates who were unable to afford expensive tuition fees and was built on Northam Gardens in North Oxford.  This later became St. Hugh’s College. 

As well as poetry, Elizabeth wrote plays, biographies and religious articles.  She also wrote and lectured about the importance of the education of women.
She wrote two novels under the pen name of Grant Lloyd.

Elizabeth continued writing, entertaining students, lecturing reading and exercising until her death in 1932.

Source:  Poetry Foundation

Portrait of Elizabeth by james Jebusa Shannon – Google Images

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Eva Jones - "Some Mother's Son" May 1916

My friend Dorothy has given me a press cutting about a CD featuring poetry and prose written by women about WW1 and I am hoping to bring you a review of this shortly.

Dorothy also sent me a copy of a poem take from her Grandmother's autograph book.  The poem is called "Some Mother's Son" and it was signed "Eva Jones, May 1916".   Dorothy wonders whether Eva Jones wrote the poem or whether she just copied it out.   If anyone has any information, please let me know.

Some Mother's Son

A little hillock of blood-soaked clay
A little cross raised but yesterday
Beneath sleeps a hero - some Mother's son
Honoured in death by Victory won.

He had given his life in that great fight
His cause was the Motherland's Honour and Right
He had fallen with others so noble and brave
And is sleeping tonight in a soldier's grave.

A fond Mother waits for her darling boy
Ready to welcome her pride and joy
But those dear eyes will watch in vain
For her brave lad will never return.

Only memories for ever will stay
Of the loved one who sleeps in that land far away.
A cross marks the lone spot where death again won
And another young victim was some Mother's son.

Eva Jones, May 1916

Photo:  WW1 Band retraining as stretcher bearers

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Claire Goll (1890 - 1977) - GERMAN

With grateful thanks to Penelope Monkhouse of Schwetzinger, Germany who compiled and translated the following information for me.

Claire Goll (1890 Nuremberg – 1977 Paris), née Liliane Clarisse Aischmann, was a writer, poet and journalist, daughter of Josef Aischmann, a hops dealer. 
She married her first husband, the publisher Heinrich Studer (1889-1961) in 1911 and lived in Leipzig. The couple had a daughter in 1912, but divorced in 1916. 
Claire emigrated to Switzerland in 1916, studied at Geneva University and, as a pacifist, was active in the peace movement. In 1917 she met the poet Yvan Goll, whom she married in 1921 in Paris. 
In between Claire had a relationship with Rainer Maria Rilke and the two remained in contact until his death in December 1926. 
Her poetry collection Mitwelt and a volume of stories Die Frauen erwachen appeared in 1918. She later published novels, stories and poems in French; Poèmes d'amour (1925), Poèmes de la jalousie (1926) and Poèmes de la vie et de la mort were written together with Yvan Goll as Wechselgesang der Liebe

Both Claire and Yvan were of Jewish origin and went into exile to New York in 1939. They returned to Paris in 1947, where Yvan died in 1950.  Claire died in Paris in 1977.

References :
M. Karl: Claire Goll: Die Femme fatal. In: Bayerische Amazonen – 12 Porträts. Pustet, Regensburg 2004. pp. 116-131.
E. Robertson (ed.), Yvan Goll-Claire Goll: Texts and Contexts (1997).

Photo:  Claire Goll in Paris, 1924 from Google Images

Sunday 19 January 2014

Bryher (1894 - 1983) - British

Bryher was the pen name of Annie Winifred ELLERMAN, who was born in Margate.   Annie’s Mother was Hannah Glover and her Father was John Ellerman, the shipping magnate.  The shipping lines Ellerman and Hall and Ellerman Papayani were well known to me, for my Father worked as a fumigator in the port of Liverpool.  When John Ellerman died in 1933 he was the richest Englishman ever.

During her childhood, Annie travelled with her family on the continent of Europe and in North Africa.   She was sent to boarding school when she was fourteen.  

In 1918, Bryher met and began a relationship with American poet Hilda Dolittle, who was known by her initials – H.D. During the 1920s Bryher travelled to Paris where she met writers Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Robert McAlmon, Kenneth Macpherson and Gertrude Stein, publisher Sylvia Beach and photographer Berenice Abbott. 

As she was independently wealthy, Bryher was able to help struggling writers, poets and artists.  In 1921, she married Robert McAlmon but the couple divorced in 1927.  Bryher then married Kenneth Macpherson – they were both passionate about films – and they built a Bauhaus-style house/film studio in Switzerland, which they called Kenwin.  In 1927 Bryner, Macpherson and H.D. founded the film magazine “Close Up”. 

During the 1930s Kenwin became a centre for refugees and she helped at least a hundred people escape from Nazi rule before she returned to England in 1940. 

Bryhers’ poetry anthologies are “Region of Lutany”, published in 1914 and “Arrow Music” published in 1922.   She wrote novels and works of non-fiction and both Bryher and H.D. appeared in one of the films made by their film company The Pool Group.

Bryher died in 1983.

NOTE:  Bryher is the name of the smallest of the inhabited Isles of Scilly.

Source:  Wikipedia

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Lilian Bowes Lyon (1895 - 1949) - British

Lilian was born at Ridley Hall in Northumberland on 23rd December 1895 and began writing poetry at an early age.

During The First World War, both Lilian and her cousin Elizabeth, who went on to become Queen Elizabeth, wife of King George VI, helped look after wounded soldiers at Glamis Castle, which her Uncle Claude had inherited in 1904 on the death of her grandfather, the 13th Earl of Strathmore.   

Lilian's brother, Charles, an officer in the Black Watch Regiment, was killed on the Western Front on 23rd October 1914.

WW1 Red Cross Record Card

Lilian's care of the wounded continued in the Second World War, when she lived in Stepney in the East End of London and took care of the victims of bombing raids.

Lilian wrote seven collections of poetry and two novels, never married and continued writing poetry until her death in 1949.

According to Catherine W. Reilly in "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) pp205 - 206, Lilian Bowes Lyon's WW1 poetry collection were: 

"Bright feather fading, and other poems" (Cape, London 1936) and
"Collected Poems with an introduction by C. Day Lewis" (Cape, London, 1948).  Lilian also had one of her poems included in the WW1 poetry anthology "The Fiery Cross: an anthology" (Grant Richards, London, 1915) which was edited by Mabel C. Edwards and Mary Booth and sold in aid of the Red Cross.

“The Hedge-Row Story” by Lilian Bowes-Lyon

When fields here lose their colour, when the wood
Trailing a hoary wing turns home
To raven night, I reckon up the sum
Of rustic evil and clay-spattered good.

I think of the innumerable slow lives whose history
Differs a hair’s breadth from the hedgw-row story :
Thorns in black competition, the roped glory
Of gossamer, soon gone,
With berries dipped in blood.

When fields here lose the light, I fear the mystery
Of men like trees, that tower but touch the sky
They cannot and are felled one by one,
I think of saint and scarecrow schooled to die ;
Their leafless victory stands, where nothing stood.

From  p. 250 “Poems of our Time 1900 – 1942” chosen by Richard Church and M.M. Bozman (J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1945

A contact of mine recently sent me a handwritten poem entitled "Emblems" by WW1 poet Lilian Bowes Lyon, who we featured in “Female Poets of the First World War Volume Two”.  I thought you might like to see it. 

My contact says:

“The poem comes from a guest book that originally belonged to a well to do family called the McEwens who owned the Bardrochat Estate in Colmonell, Ayrshire. They also owned Marchmont House near Duns. Many guests wrote in the book which is titled "An Edwardian Diary". 

The book made its way from Ayrshire through to Duns on the East coast and at some point the family must have had a clear-out. It was after this that a gentleman called Richard Jackson found the book in a Junk shop in Duns and bought it. 

When we started doing our research into the Fallen of WW1 from Colmonell, Richard contacted us about a poem called "A Candid Opinion" that was written by the game-keeper’s son William Fox Ritchie, who died in September 1918. Willie wrote the poem in the book whilst home re-cooperating from severe frostbite.”

And Richard Jackson kindly sent me the following WW1 poem by Lilian:

“Battlefield” by Lilian bowes-Lyon

Men in their prime,
Boys venerably young
With all-unfaded brows, died here upon a time,
So heavy a wrong
How may this black world right who trod them into slime.

Still must our milder suns,
Splintering the stained-glass window of a wood,
Be darkly seen through these men’s blood
And midnight mutter in her sleep with guns.

Photograph of Lilian kindly sent to me by Michael Shankland.

With thanks to Joe Staines for pointing out typos which I hope have now been corrected. 

Saturday 11 January 2014

Marguerite Coppin (1867 - 1931) - Belgium

Who says Facebook is a waste of time!   Having recently started a Facebook Page for Female Poets of the First World War, I am indebted to Sabine Declercq Couwet who, I believe, runs a battlefield tour company, for suggesting I look at the work of Marguerie Coppin, a Belgian poet.   Thank you Sabine!

I shall try to find poems and photographs to go with Marguerite's details.


Marguerite Copin was born on 2nd February 1867 in Brussels.

She became Belgium’s Poet Laureate and was active in promoting women’s rights.

When war broke out in 1914, Marguerite was among the refugees who were evacuated to England where she worked as a French teacher and remained until her death in 1931.

Thursday 9 January 2014

May Ziade (1886 - 1941) The Lebanon

During the First World Waar, The Lebanon was part of the Ottoman Empire and controlled by the Syrians.  Beirut was the centre of several different movements advocating reform which sent delegates to a Franco-Syrian Conference held in Paris.

May Ziade was born in Nazareth in Palestine.  Her father, Elias Ziade from The Lebanon, was a newspaper editor and her mother was Palestinian.  In 1908 the family went to live in Egypt and May had several articles published in her Father's paper.  Her first independent published anthology "Fleurs de rêve" was written in French under the pen name Isis Copia.

May was well-known in literary circles and began holding literary salons (where like minded people gathered to discuss and read their work) which were supported by many writers and intellectuals of the day.

May, who never married, went on to support the notion of emancipation of Arab women, organising a conference in 1921 calling upon Arab women to aspire toward freedom and to be aware of western ways without sacrificing their own identity.   May died in Cairo in October 1941.

With thanks to Suzanne Daou a modern Lebanese writer and translator who suggested I research May.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Marie Nizet - Belgium

I have tried to include poets from as many countries of the world as possible in this project.  I am still looking for a woman poet from Luxembourg, Thailand and African countries.   If anyone knows of any, please get in touch so that we can let their voices be heard.

Great Britain entered the First World War because Belgium was invaded by German troops and we had given an undertaking in order to preserve Belgium's neutrality that we would defend her should she be invaded (Treaty of London 1839).

Marie Nizet is so far the only poet I have found from Belgium who was alive during the First World War.  Having mentioned Belgium and a Belgian Secret Agent on www.inspirationalwomenofww1.blogspot.co.uk today, I felt I ought to mention a Belgian poet here.

Mariet was born in Brussels in 1859.  Her Father worked at the Royal Library in Belgium.  While studying in Paris, Marie met some fellow students from Romania which kindled her interest in Romanian mythology.  At the age of 19, Marie published her first book "Captain Vampire".   She married and had a son, divorced and brought her son up alone.   Marie died in Etterbeek in 1922.

With grateful thanks to Peter Parsley who lives in Belgium who found the photograph of Marie Nizet for me.

Friday 3 January 2014

Bing Xin - China

BING XIN (1900 – 1999) – CHINA

I have included Bing Xin in this project in order to illustrate the role of China in the First World War.   The Chinese Labour Corps was created by the British Government in order to work behind the scenes and thus leaving the troops to get on with the fighting.

Bing Xin, who is featured in Female Poets of the First World War Volume 1, was born on 5th December 1900 in Fuzhou, Fujan,, China.  Her family moved to Shandong when she was four years old.   In 1913, they moved to Beijing where she wrote for her school magazine and published her first novel.

After a long and distinguished career as a writer, Bing Xin died in Beijing on 28th February 1999.

“The mirror
Reflects me face to face.
However, I feel it to be unnatural.
Better to turn it around!”

From “Infinite Stars” by Bing Xin, first published in 1921.

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Lou Albert-Lasard (1885 - 1969) - Germany

I am very grateful indeed to Penelope Monkhouse from Germany who has sent me biographies of several German women poets of WW1.

Penelope Monkhouse (*1952) is a German-British scientist living in Schwetzingen/Germany and is a granddaughter of the novelist, dramatist and literary critic Allan Monkhouse. Literature of the early 20thcentury is presently one of her chief non-scientific interests; she is presently engaged on a comparative study of German and English poetry of this period. She also writes poetry of her own and translates poetry to and from German and English. 

Lou Albert-Lasard (1885 - 1969) 

Born in 1885 in Metz in Lorraine, which was then part of the German Empire, was an expressionist painter from a Jewish banker’s family. Her sister Ilse Heller-Lasard (1884-1934) was also an artist. In the years 1908-1912 Lou studied art in Munich, where she met members of the “Blue Rider” expressionist group (e.g. Alexei Jawlensky, Marianne Werefkin). From 1912 she worked in the Atelier of Ferdinand Léger in Paris. 

Against her parent’s wishes, Lou married the chemist and inventor Eugène Albert (1856-1929) in 1909 and had a daughter Ingeborg (Ingo) (1911-1997). The marriage was short-lived and in September 1914, shortly after returning to Germany on the outbreak of war, she began an affair with the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and spent part of the time until 1916 with him in Munich and Vienna. Both were deeply disturbed by the onset of the First World War and Lou recorded her feelings in a poem entitled “Kriegsausbruch” (Outbreak of War). 

She also painted a portrait of Rilke in July 1916.  Through him she became acquainted with writers and artists such as Annette Kolb, Franz Werfel, Stefan Zweig and Paul Klee. After moving to Berlin in 1919, Lou joined the newly formed expressionist November group. In 1928 she settled in Paris and became part of the artist’s group in the Quartier Montparnasse. Here she met Henri Matisse, Alberto Giacometti among others. 

With her daughter, Lou Albert-Lasard travelled in North Africa, India, Tibet and elsewhere. Drawings and watercolours brought from these journeys were exhibited from 1939. In May 1940 she and Ingo were interned in Gurs, but released three months later. During her time in Gurs she made drawings and watercolours showing portraits of fellow prisoners and scenes from the camp life. After her release she returned to Paris. In the 1950´s she again travelled with her daughter and made watercolours and lithographs, recording her impressions.   She died in Paris in 1969.

Nicole Schneegans: Une image de Lou. Collection Page Blanche, Gallimard 1996. 
Lou Albert-Lasard: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Grafik. Berlinische Galerie, Berlin 1983
Lou Albert-Lasard: Wege mit Rilke (Memoir), Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt/Main 1952