Wednesday 30 July 2014

"Salford in WW1" Exhibition at Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Salford, Manchester, UK

Not just because they have some of our panels on show at the moment in the "Salford at War" Exhibition but also because Salford Museum and Art Gallery is well worth a visit.  They also have a lovely tea room.

A full programme of exhibitions and events is planned for both Salford Museum and Art Gallery and Ordsall Hall.

See their July - December 2014 Programme (left) on

Follow them on Facebook _

and on Twitter - @SalfordMuseum

Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Peel Park, The Crescent, Salford, M5 4WU, England.  Very close to Salford Crescent Station.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Sarah Jane Rees (1839 - 1916) - Welsh

With grateful thanks to Deb Fisher of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship, I can now bring you news of a Welsh woman poet - Sarah Jane Rees - Bardic name "Cranogwen".

Sarah was a Welsh teacher, poet and editor.  Born on 9th January 1839 in Llangrannog in Cardiganshire, the daughter of a master mariner, Sarah often accompanied her father on his sea voyages.  She became interested in navigation and ended up studying and then teaching navigation herself.  In 1865 Sarah won the coveted Eistedfodd poetry prize and her Bardic name was "Cranogwen". Her first collection of poems - entitled "Caniadau Cranogwen" - was published in 1870.

 Sarah set up a Welsh language magazine for learned women - "Y Frythones" - which she edited from 1878 - 1889 and toured America giving lectures mainly to Welsh communities and travelling as far as California.  She was also a founding member of the South Wales Women's Temperence Union.

Sarah died in 1916 and is buried in the churchyard at St. Crannogs.

I am trying to find a copy of the poem Sarah wrote about the First World War shortly before her death and will post extracts when I manage to find it.

Saturday 26 July 2014

Commemorating the Centenary of the official start of the First World War in Britain - Monday, 4th August 2014

Just a few of the events being organised:


The Shorncliffe Trust (on Facebook: have a very reverential scheme for the evening of 4th August 2014 lighting lanterns on the graves in memoriam to those who lie there.

The Trust are also fighting to save as much as possible of the Shorncliffe Barracks and 200-year old Redoubt and WW1 training trenches against the developers et al.

Andrew Morgan, Remembering the First World War in 2014 One Hundred Years Facebook Group


are holding a special commemorative event on 4th August 2014 - for details please contact Jonathan Catton, Heritage and Museum Officer, Thurrock Council.  The museum are running a commemorative Great War Exhibition. 

Monday, 4th August 10.00 am - 3.00 pm
Tilbury Fort, Tilbury, Essex RM18 7NR

Free WW1 Commemoration Day run by Thurrock Borough Council

Julie says: "We will be performing poems and extracts of the performance of "Merry it was to laugh there".


MESSAGE FROM SUZANNE STEELE:  I am a project lead on a Great War installation, The Long Goodbye, which you can see on Facebook -
The project is unveiling on 4 August, 2014.

For further details see also their website link:

Monday 21 July 2014

Review and future performance dates "Merry it was to laugh there"

As promised, here is an update:

Julie has just sent me this link to a review of her WW1 commemorative show "Merry it was to laugh there" -

Future performances include:

Mon 4th August 2014, 10am - 3pm
Tilbury Fort, Tilbury, Essex RM18 7NR
Free WW1 Commemoration Day run by Thurrock Borough Council
Julie says: "We will be performing poems and extracts of the performance"

Thursday 4 September 2014, 2pm
Jaywick Martello Tower, The Promenade, Belsize Ave, Jaywick, CO15 2LF,
Tickets £7 concessions £5
To book: call 01255 822783 or email:

Thursday 11 &  Friday 12 September, 2014,  7.45pm
Mercury Theatre Studio, Colchester
Tickets £12.50 Concessions £10 
Box Office 01206 573948 

Saturday 13 September 8pmRoyal British Legion Witham Memorial Hall, Newland Street, Witham CM8 2AZ 
Tickets £7.50. Under 16's £5
Tickets available from Witham Town Hall
 01376 520627   

For further information, please contact Julie Easlea as follows:

07941 502577
Press & PR - Royal Opera House Thurrock -
DJs - Middle Age Spread -
Performance - Merry It Was To Laugh There - Touring 2014

Friday 18 July 2014

"Merry it was to laugh there" - Julie Easlea's recent production at the Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford

I contacted Julie Easlea recently.  Julie is organising a commemorative WW1 show based on WW1 poetry and I wondered if some of my exhibition panels would be of any use.  Julie has just sent me some photos of the foyer display and I also received this message via my Facebook Page:

Tanya Mortimer Birnie:

"I attended Julie Easlea's theatre production "MERRY IT WAS TO LAUGH THERE" at The Cramphorn Theatre in Chelmsford, Essex recently. I was blown away by the show. It was moving, very poignant and also funny in parts. My friend who has no real interest in WW1 said she came out of the theatre totally understanding about the horrors the soldiers, women and families left behind had to go through just by watching the performance by Christine Absalom and Tim Freeman. 

I read some of the information sheets that were posted on the board about women/people who served. I have a big love of WW1, in particular shot at Dawn soldiers, nurses and VC winners. I will now be researching poems and Poets. Many thanks."

That is good to know - thank you to Julie and to Tanya.  

I hope to bring you further news of future performances of "Merry it was to laugh there" soon.


Tuesday 15 July 2014

Helen M. Nightingale, Australian nurse, poet and librettist

I am trying to find biographical details of Helen M. Nightingale who is featured in Simon McNeill-Ritchie's lovely commemorative WW1 anthology "Great Ward Poetry".   The anthology features poems written by both staff and patients of the 3rd London General Hospital, which in peace time had been The Royal Victoria Patriotic School on Wandsworth Common - an orphanage for the daughters of service personnel killed while on duty.

Helen was from Australia and several of her poems were originally published in the 3rd London General Hospital "Gazette" magazine and are reproduced in "Great Ward Poetry".  There is also a photo of Helen on page 12 of the anthology, which also includes photographs and some delightful drawings done by some of the members of the Chelsea Arts Club who were volunteer helpers at the Hospital during WW1 - see page x.

"Great Ward Poetry" is edited by Simon McNeill-Ritchie and published by Hamilton Laird Publishing, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire in 2014.  The anthology, which has a Foreword by HRH Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, is sold in aid of SSAFA - the charity which takes care of the families of serving military personnel.  SSAFA is one of the few charities that was operational during WW1 still going strong today.

SSAFA's PR Manager, Michael Ivatt, has informed me that the book will be available via "on line bookshops" shortly.

For further information about SSAFA, or if you know someone who may need their help, please contact:

Queen Elizabeth House
4 St Dunstan's Hill

Tel. 0207 463 9320
Fax. 020 7403 8815
SSAFA is a Registered Charity No. 210760 Est. 1885 Registered Charity (Scotland) No. SC038056 

Did Rosaleen Graves meet Wilfred Owen

I have been trying to discover whether Rosaleen Graves may have met Wilfred Owen.

To this end, I recently asked The Robert Graves Society Facebook Group whether Rosaleen attended the wedding of her brother, Robert, in London in 1918.  I have just received a lovely reply from Hilaire Wood, a Society member:

' According to Robert's father's diary, quoted by Richard Perceval Graves in The Assault Heroic, p 191: "We were almost the first arrivals but the church filled up. Family (Amy, I and six children, including Perceval and Susie but dear Roz had failed to get leave) CLG, Lily, Rosy... Miss North... and no end of others -" '

With grateful thanks to Hilaire Wood of The Robert Graves Society (Facebook Group) for her speedy response to my query.

It seems therefore that the paths of Rosaleen Graves and Wilfred Owen may not have crossed.

For the text of Robert Graves' poem "The Assault Heroic" please see

"Robert Graves - The Assault Heroic 1895 - 1926" by Richard Perceval Graves, published by Viking in 1987.

Friday 4 July 2014

Scottish Women's Poetry of the First World War

I am indebted to Professor Isobel Murray of Aberdeen University for taking time out of her extremely hectic schedule to reply to my query about Scottish women poets.

Marion Angus, Helen Cruickshank, Violet Jacob and Mary Symond are already on my ever-growing list of Female Poets but I have yet to research their lives and find examples of their poetry.

Professor Murray also told me about a new anthology - "From the Line - Scottish War Poetry 1914 - 1945", edited by David Goldie and Roderick Watson, which has been published recently by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies and is priced at £12.50 per copy.

As soon as I have been able to find a copy, I will let you know more.