Wednesday 23 December 2015

Kathleen Ethel Burne (1879 - 1959) - British

Kathleen Ethel Burne was born in Kensington on 11th May 1879.   Her father was Thomas Burne who worked as a clerk in a colliery in Co. Durham and her mother was Mary Isabella Simons.   The family moved to London in 1864 when Thomas worked for the Civil Service, re-organising the War Office accounts during the Boer War.  He then became an Officer's secretary at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Thomas and his wife had several children - Adeline, Godfrey, Cecil and Ormond who went to teach in Germany.  One of Thomas and Mary's sons and a grandson became mining engineers.  Thomas died on 22nd March 1903.

Kathleen attended boarding school in St Andrews, Fife  in 1891 and went on to study at Girton College, Cambridge in 1901.   From 1907 until 1925, Kathleen worked as private secretary to Edmund Lamb MP at his estate in Borden Wood, Essex, where she lived at 3 Garden Cottages, Borden Wood.   During that time Kathleen helped Edmund Lamb research his book ‘Some Annals of the Lambs: a Border Family’, which was published in 1926.  

Kathleen was a teacher for a time and worked for over 25 years with Father Andrew in Plaistow, East London.  She never married.   Kathleen's nephew Harold Burne was killed in Palestine on 3rd November 1917.

Kathleen died after an illness aged 80 on 10th June 1959 at the Hostel of God, Clapham Common, but her WIll states her usual residence was Lake Cottage, Bobbolds Farm, Milland, LIPHOOK, West Sussex.  

Kathleen's poetry collection "Poems by K.E.B. " includes several poems written during the First World War, one of which is this Chrstmas-themed poem:

Christmas Eve, 1916 (page 28)
The little lamp burns bright; the Babe
Lies in the manger there;
The mother bends above; her hands
Are clasped in praise and prayer;
Her tender face a-light with love
Looks down upon Him there.

This little Child was born, they say,
To save the world from sin.
So still and peaceful lies the scene-
How crept the evil in?
What madness swept across the earth
And plunged the world in sin?

The Shepherds kneel, simple souls,
Beneath the open sky
They learn to read the signs of God
And humbly drawing nigh
They worship here the Sign that flamed
From out the midnight sky.

The Wise Men from the East with gifts
In adoration dumb
Bend low. Stern searchers after truth,
But yet in faith they come:
Before the Mother and the Child
Their restless doubts are dumb.

The gentle large-eyed ox, the ass,
Stand gazing without fear;
The camels through the open door,
and small wild things draw near-
Where all is love and peace and joy,
What room is there for fear?
So sweet and peaceful is the scene-
Ah, whence crept evil in?-
Give peace, O God, to weary hearts
And cleanse our souls from sin !
Stretch forth Thine arms, all-loving God
And draw Thy children in !

Information and poem kindly supplied by Leslie Young and Andrew Burne

Thursday 10 December 2015

Marjorie Kane Smyth - Australian; VAD in WW1

Viv Newman kindly sent me the following information about Marjorie Kane Smyth: Marjorie was Australian - she lived in New South Wales.  Her father may have been a clergyman because she passed Junior examinations at the Clergy Daughters' School in 1904.   She was one of the earliest Australians to volunteer as a VAD during the First World War.  She arrived in Egypt on 12th October 1915.   92 Australian women served in this capacity.   Marjorie worked at No. 1 Australian General Hospital, 'Heliopolis Palace', a large complex which, according to the Hospital records, was in 'the land of the Pharaohs'.  It was a 750 bed hospital (increasing to 1,040 on arrival in France) from January 1915 to March 1916.  

In Egypt, the hospital cared for patients from Gallipoli and was then transferred to France.  Marjorie was attached to the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service and served with the hospital until June 1917.  She was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, as well as the War and Victory Medals.  It is possible that she died in around 1935 as that is the last time she appears on the Electoral Roll.

With many thanks to Viv Newman for finding this information out for me.  Dominic Sheridan is currently researching Australian First World War Poetry.  Dominic has a Facebook Page where you will find lots more Australian WW1 poets -

Monday 7 December 2015

More information about the Nott Sisters

I have just received a wonderful e-mail with additional information about the Nott Sisters from Anthony Richards, to whom I am extremely grateful.  Anthony read Phil Dawes' contribution which I posted in February 2015 about the Nott sisters and has this to add from his personal knowledge :

"The article on the Nott sisters, Jane Protheroe, Martha Lucy & Mary was hugely informative with amazing research by Phil Dawes, but there are some extra details and clarifications which you might find useful.

The first clarification is that 'Felixstowe' is in Bristol. It was the name of the house in which the sisters started their school in Clifton.  Studying Street Directories I can see no mention of premises where the sisters could have set up a private school as early as 1893.The first house in which the school is mentioned is 6 Downside Road, acquired in 1900 from Will E Young J.P., and renamed 'Felixstowe'. In 1905/6 the school moved to larger premises, a full 40 yards away, at 1 Upper Belgrave Road. The house was named 'Tresilian' when they acquired it but it too was renamed 'Felixstowe'. When the school moved out in 1912/13 the house became known as Downs View, which it still is today (it looks out over the Clifton Downs). The third and final house was acquired and used from 1913 to 1930 and, you guessed it, renamed 'Felixstowe'. That was about 500 yards away in Clifton Down, next to what is now the Mansion House. The previous owner/occupier was Harry Beloe J.P. when it was known as 'Salcombe House'.

As you know, the school was taken over by the very successful Duncan House School and survived to 1967. The house in Clifton Down continues to be known to this day as 'Felixstowe', even in reference books, a small mark the Notts have left for posterity, although the context is entirely lost.

Your article mentions Jane's attendance at the Bristol School of Science and Arts and her prize, but there are also articles in the Bristol Mercury (24th July 1884 & 23rd March 1885) regarding further prizes. I intend to try to look these up. A very minor point: you talk of Marlu's education; the school in question is actually 'Redland High School' (no s on Redland), still a successful girls' school in Bristol today. Your article also mentions the sisters' parents moving  into the school with them when they were at 1 Upper Belgrave Road. They had been living close by at 51 Apsley Road before this, and this is the address the sisters moved back to when they retired in 1929/31."

Anthony has also sent some wonderful photographs, some of which I hope to be able to post shortly.

Thank you again to Anthony and to everyone who is helping with this commemorative project.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Being Young in the First World War Conference

News just in that a WW1 Conference entitled Being Young in the First World War is to be held at Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK on Saturday, 7th November 2015.

Professor Maggie Andrews and Professor  Jean Webb from University of Worcester will be keynote speakers. Other speakers are drawn from Britain, Belgium, New Zealand, France and Canada,  speaking on topics including Orphans, Boy Scouts, Art and Literature, School Curricular, Propaganda, Disability, and Women’s Radical Movements.

To book your FREE place for the Being Young During World War One conference, go to

For more information about the conference, please see the conference website at  or email

This conference is supported by the Manchester Centre for Regional History and the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University, and organised as part of the AHRC World War One Centre: Voices of War and Peace, based at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Thursday 8 October 2015

Kathleen Ethel Burne (1879 - 1959) - British

I am celebrating National Poetry Day in the UK with a poem by a First World War poet discovered by Lesley Young.  Many thanks to Lesley for getting in touch with me and sharing her findings which began when Lesley found a book of poems among her Great-Grandfather's half sister's possessions.

Kathleen Ethel Burne was born in Kensington on 11th May 1879.   Her father was Thomas Burne, who worked as a clerk in a colliery in Durham, and her mother was Mary Isabella nee Simons.   The family moved to London in 1864 when Thomas worked for the Civil Service, re-organising the War Office accounts during the Boer War, a task for which he was awarded the Imperial Service Order.  He then became an Officer's secretary at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Thomas and his wife had several children, among them Adeline, Godfrey, Cecil and Ormond, who went to teach in Germany.  One of Thomas and Mary's sons and a grandson became mining engineers.  Thomas died on 22nd March 1903.

Kathleen attended boarding school in St Andrews, Fife  in 1891 and went on to study at Girton College, Cambridge in 1901.   From 1907 until 1925, Kathleen worked as private secretary to Edmund Lamb MP at his estate in Borden Wood, Essex, where she lived at 3 Garden Cottages, Borden Wood.   During that time Kathleen helped Edmund Lamb research his book ‘Some Annals of the Lambs: a Border Family’, which was published in 1926.  

Kathleen was a teacher for a time and worked for over 25 years with Father Andrew in Plaistow, East London.  She never married.   Kathleen's nephew Harold Burne was killed in Palestine on 3rd November 1917.

Kathleen died after an illness aged 80 on 10th June 1959 at the Hostel of God, Clapham Common, but her WIll states her usual residence was Lake Cottage, Bobbolds Farm, Milland, Liphook, West Sussex.  

Kathleen's poetry collection "Poems by K.E.B. " includes several poems written during the First World War and was probably printed in around 1926.  Lesley's copy is hand bound with a hand-painted cover. 

Sources:  Information supplied by Lesley Young who has carried out extensive research on the life and work of Kathleen, and members of Kathleen's family who supplied personal information to Lesley.  Kathleen's family have very kindly given me permission to share some of her poems with you, which I plan to do over the coming months.

Here is one of those poems:

"A Scrap of Paper" (page 21)

Background to the poem: 

In 1914 the German Kaiser invaded Belgium, which had previously declared itself neutral in a treaty dated 1839.  During The First World War, the Chancellor of Germany dismissed that treaty as "A Scrap of Paper. Looking on the British Newspaper Archives - there are several poems about "a Scrap of Paper" that date from 1914/1915 published around the country.   The comment clearly enraged the British public and inspired many to write poetry.

"Just for a scrap of paper!" the scornful German said,
"Just for a scrap of paper these things be on your head!"
Just for a scrap of paper we mourn our English dead.

Good faith is but a phantasm, and honour but a name:
Yet the little hosts of Belgium have won undying fame;
Yea, they shall live for ever, though their homes go up in flame,

Though their mortal bodies perish in direst agony,
Though the foeman's heel is on their neck, and their helpless children flee,
Though their women tread an alien soil in homeless misery.

As they have kept their honour, will England keep her faith;
She will stand by her gallant comrades till she draws her last breath;
She will fight for that scrap of paper to the very gates of death.

And you, O perjured Kaiser, when your thunder-bolts are hurled,
When the day of reckoning comes at last and the flags of war are furled,
May find that a scrap of paper has changed the face of the world.

Wednesday 23 September 2015


Constance was born on 27th March 1891 in Sheffield, where she lived all her life.   Her parents were John William Renshaw (1861 – 1924) and Ada Johnson (1862 – 1935).   Constance was educated at the Central Secondary School in Sheffield and later attended Sheffield University.

 From 1913 until her retirement due to ill health in 1937, Constance was a teacher. From 1916 she worked at Sheffield City Grammar School, teaching a variety of subjects from music to English, Arithmetic to Needlework.  She also lectured to the students of Sheffield University on the importance of teaching English in schools.

 Constance died in Sheffield on 30th May 1964.
My grateful thanks to Clive Barrett whose Father-in-Law was one of Constance Ada Renshaw's pupils and who supplied me with a great deal of information about the poet.

Monday 21 September 2015

Adrienne Blanc-Péridier (1884 - 1965) - French

Adrienne Hyacinthe Marie Blanc was born in Mont-de-Marsan, Landes in France on 31st January 1884.  She wrote using the pen-names Adrienne Blanc-Péridier and Adrienne Boglione.  Adrienne’s poetry collection “La Cantique de la Patrie 1914 – 1917” (‘Canticle of the Nation’, 1912 – 1917) was published by Plon, in Paris in 1918.

She worked tirelessly in defence of votes for women after the end of the First World War and joined the Union Nationale pour le Vote des Femmes (Tr. National Union for Votes for Women).  Adrienne wrote a biography of the feminist Juliette Adam, a French woman who was present at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28th June 1919.  

In addition to poetry, fiction and prose, Adrienne also wrote plays – both comedies and tragedies - and religious musical works.

In around 1915, Adrienne married Julien Péridier, an electrical engineer and amateur astronomer who founded an observatory at Houga in the Midi-Pyrenees Departement of  south west France in 1933 and has a crater on Mars named after him.  The couple were married for fifty years until Adrienne’s death.  They had no children.

Adrienne was awarded the French title Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. She died on 6th August 1965 at Houga, Gers. and is buried in the Cemetery at Houga.

With many thanks to Phil Dawes whose patient research is a great help - for finding the photograph of Adrienne Blanc-Péridier
Here is a translation of one of Adrienne Blanc-Peridier's poem from her collection "Le Cantique de la Patrie, 1917" published by TYF, Flou-Nourrit & Cie., Paris, 1918, pp. 23 - 24.

War swept across the plain
Clad in scarlet, her hair aflame !…
The young men followed her every one
Leaving their girl friends all alone !…

War raced down the hillsides,
With feverish mouth and red eyes …
Heedless of the women who wept,
The men followed her every step.

Triumphant, insatiable, war
Runs thru' the fields and across the forest floor,
Her seductive voice exhorting the men
To join her in battle again and again.

Shivering, exhausted, out of breath,
Regardless of the smell of certain death,
They follow war, surrendering to her fatal powers,
Eager to pick her lips' toxic flowers!

Lucy London, 11th and 12th October 2015


La guerre a passé sur la plaine,
Avec sa robe rouge et ses cheveux épars !…
Les jeunes hommes l'ont suivie
Et les jeunes filles n'ont plus d'amoureux !…

La guerre a descendu le versant des collines,
La bouche fiévreuse et les yeux en feu…
Et sans voir les larmes des femmes,
Les  hommes ont couru sur ses pas.

La guerre triomphante et jamais assouvie
Court sur nos champs et sur nos bois,
Et sa voix haletante appelle
Les jeunes hommes au combat.

Tremblants, éperdus, hors d'haleine,
Ils vont, abandonnés à son pouvoir fatal ;
Ils veulent cueillir la fleur de ses lèvres
Dont le parfum donne la mort ! 


Sunday 20 September 2015

Commemorative WW1 Exhibition, Congleton Museum, September 2015

Some of the exhibition panels featuring Female Poets of the First World War are on view at an exhibition currently on show at Congleton Museum, Congleton, Cheshire, UK.

For further information, please see the website

Photo:  Panels on display at Congleton Museum, September 2015.  Photo from Heather Watson.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Elizaveta Polonskaja (1890 - 1969) - Russian

Penelope Monkhouse kindly provided me with biographical information about the poet Elizaveta Polonkskaja. My very grateful thanks to Penelope and to all those who continue to support and encourage me in this First World War commemorative project.

Elizaveta Grigorevna Movšenson was born in Warsaw in 'Congress Poland' on 26th June 1890, the daughter of an engineer, Grifory Lvovich Movšenson. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Łódź.  That area was partitioned after the Vienna Congress in 1815 and was divided between Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary.  Elizaveta's mother tongue was Russian but she also learnt French, German, Italian and English.

In 1905, fearing the pogroms against people of the Jewish religion, Eizaveta's father sent the family to Berlin where her mother Charlotta had family, though they returned to Russia the following year and went to live in St. Petersburg. In 1908 Elizaveta moved to Paris and began studying medicine at the Sorbonne.  There, she met the poet and writer Ilya Ehrenburg and with him published two journals, Byvšie ljudi (Former People) and Tixoe semejstvo (A Quiet Family). 

Elizaveta completed her course in medicine in 1914 and also published her first poems in the Russian-language journal “Stikhi”.  At the outbreak of the First World War, Elizaveta initially worked at a hospital in Nancy in France and then helped to run a military hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Elizaveta returned to St. Petersburg in 1915 when she heard that Russian doctors working abroad were being urged to return to their homeland so that they could serve on the Eastern Front. Elizaveta's father had just died when she returned. 

From 1915-1917 she worked as a doctor on the Galician front; there she met the engineer Lev Polonski. The couple had a relationship and had a son Mikhail. Although they never married, Elizaveta took his name and so became known as Polonskaja.  After the birth of her son, Elizaveta left him with her family and returned to the front where she remained until 1917.

After Russia left the war, Elizaveta returned initially to Petrograd, but needed to support her family, so took a medical job on Vasilevsky Island. In 1918 she began literary courses at the Translators´ Studio at the publishing house of World Literature, where the poetry class was led by Nikolai Gumilev (first husband of another Russian Female Poet of the First World War - Anna Akhmatova). At this studio she met several writers who in 1921 formed the “Serapion Brothers” writers group, meeting regularly to discuss their work. The group of diverse members concentrated mainly on artistic independence and western literature and Elizaveta was the only woman member.

Elizaveta continued to work as a doctor, writing poetry and prose in her spare time. Her first collection Znamenya (Signs) was published in 1921; eight further poetry collections and four volumes of prose were published up to 1966. From 1931 she worked full-time as a writer and journalist, but in 1942 moved to the Urals and again took up medical work. On returning to Leningrad in 1944, she resumed her full-time literary work. 

Elizaveta died in January 1969 in Leningrad, leaving some work unpublished. Although parts of her memoirs had been published before her death, a collection was not published until 2008.

Writings and references

  1. E. Polonskaja, Stikhotvoreniya i poemy, St. Petersburg: Pushkin House, 2010

  1. E. Polonskaja, Selection from her (unfinished) memoirs: Goroda I vstrechi, accessed July 2015.

  1. L.D.  Davis: “Serapion Sister. Poetry of Elizaveta Polonskaja” Studies in Russian Literature and Theory. Northwestern Univ. Press, Evanston, IL, 2001.

  1. M.D. Shrayer (Ed.) : An Anthology of Jewish-Russian Literature (2 vols). Two Centuries of Dual Identity in Prose and Poetry, 2nd Ed., publ. by Routledge 2015, pp. 323-326

  1. B. Frezinsky, Zataivshajacja Mysa , 2003 (in Russian; includes some poems by Polonskaja), accessed July 2015.

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. 

Additional information from

The photo shows Elizaveta with the Serapion Brothers.

Monday 7 September 2015

Re-print of Nadja's 1915 collection 'Love and War'

The Nadja Malacrida Society have re-printed Nadja's First World War collection entitled 'Love and War'.   You can find out more about this on the Society's website -

Photo:  Lucy with a copy of the reprint of 'Love and War' at The Wilfred Owen Story Museum which is in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral.

Kathleen E. Burne (1879 - 1959) - British

I had a very exciting e-mail from Lesley Young yesterday morning, telling me about a newly-discovered Female Poet of the First World War.  I am very grateful to Lesley for bringing Kathleen Ethel Burne to my attention and for the photograph of Kathleen.   I am now seeking permission from Kathleen‘s relatives to post something about her in order to bring you further information about her and, hopefully, some examples of her work.

Photo supplied by Lesley Young.


Monday 17 August 2015

Gertrud Kolmar (1894 - 1943)

Information for this panel has kindly been collected, translated and contributed by Penelope Monkhouse from Germany. Penelope is extremely supportive of my project and has been a really great help.

Along with Nelly Sachs, Rose Ausländer and Else Lasker-Schüler, Gertrud Kolmar is considered to be one of the most significant German Jewish female poets. 

Gertrud Chodziesner was born in Berlin in Chodziez (in German: Kolmar) in the Prussian Province of Posen.  She grew up in Berlin and attended private schools. Her father was a criminal defence lawyer and her mother Elise, nee Schoenflies, was from a wealthy merchant family. Gertrud grew up in a family that loved literature - her father had some of his work published in the local newspaper.   She worked in a kindergarten and studied Russian. 

Gertrud became pregnant following her first and disappointing love affair when she was eighteen and her parents forced her to have an abortion, causing a suicide attempt.  This upheaval and trauma in her life increased her sensitivity for human hardships, which is evident in her first volume of poetry - "Im Herbst" ("In Autumn"). This was followed by a volume called "Gedichte" ("Poems"), published in 1917 by Egon Fleischel & Co., Berlin. Gertrud adopted the pen name of Gertrud Kolmar.

During the First World War, Gertrud worked from 1916 - 1917 as an interpreter and censor in the POW camp Döberitz near Berlin.

After the war, Gertrud worked as a governess and taught handicapped children.   She travelled to France, where she trained as an interpreter but had to return home due to her mother's deteriorating health.  After the death of her mother in 1930, Gertrud became her father's secretary.

Gertrud's most important volume of work came after 1920, her last known work apparently being in 1937. 

Gertrud was sent to a labour camp to work in a munitions factory in 1941 and her father was deported to a concentration camp where he died.  Gertrud was sent to Auschwitz where she died on 2nd March 1943.

In 1993 a blue plaque was placed on Gertrud's family home and a street in Berlin was named after her.

The Female Poet

You hold me now entirely in your hands.

My heart beats like a frightened little bird
Against your palm. Take heed! You do not think
A person lives within the page you thumb.
To you this book is paper, cloth, and ink,

Just binding thread and glue, and is quite dumb,
And cannot touch you (though the gaze be great
That seeks you from the printed marks within),
And is an object with an object's fate.

And yet it has been veiled like a bride,
Adorned with gems, made ready to be loved,
Who asks you shyly to change your mind,
To wake yourself, and feel, and to be moved.

But still she trembles, whispering to the wind:
"This shall not be." And smiles as if she knew.
Yet she must hope. A woman always tries,
Her very life is but a single "You . . ."

With her black flowers and her painted eyes,
With silver chains and silks of spangled blue.
She knew more beauty when a child and free,
But now forgets the better words she knew.

A man is so much cleverer than we,
Conversing with himself of truth and lie,
Of death and spring and iron-work and time.
But I say "you" and always "you and I."

This book is but a girl's dress in rhyme,
Which can be rich and red, or poor and pale,
Which may be wrinkled, but with gentle hands,
And only may be torn by loving nails.

So then, to tell my story, here I stand.
The dress's tint, though bleached in bitter dye,
Has not all washed away. It still is real.
I call then with a thin, ethereal cry.

You hear me speak. But do you hear me feel?

Die Dichterin

Du hältst mich in den Händen ganz und gar.
Mein Herz wie eines kleinen Vogels schlägt
In deiner Faust. Der du dies liest, gib acht;
Denn sieh, du blätterst einen Menschen um.
Doch ist es dir aus Pappe nur gemacht,

Aus Druckpapier und Leim, so bleibt es stumm
Und trifft dich nicht mit seinem großen Blick,
Der aus den schwarzen Zeichen suchend schaut,
Und ist ein Ding und hat sein Dinggeschick.

Und ward verschleiert doch gleich einer Braut,
Und ward geschmückt, daß du es lieben magst,
Und bittet schüchtern, daß du deinen Sinn
Aus Gleichmut und Gewöhnung einmal jagst,

Und bebt und weiß und flüstert vor sich hin:
"Dies wird nicht sein." Und nickt dir lächelnd zu.
Wer sollte hoffen, wenn nicht eine Frau?
Ihr ganzes Treiben ist ein einzig: "Du..."

Mit schwarzen Blumen, mit gemalter Brau,
Mit Silberketten, Seiden, blaubesternt.
Sie wußte manches Schönere als Kind
Und hat das schöne andre Wort verlernt. -

Der Mann ist soviel klüger, als wir sind.
In seinen Reden unterhält er sich
Mit Tod und Frühling, Eisenwerk und Zeit;
Ich sage:"Du..." und immer:"Du und ich."

Und dieses Buch ist eines Mädchens Kleid,
Das reich und rot sein mag und ärmlich fahl,
Und immer unter liebem Finger nur
Zerknittern dulden will, Befleckung, Mal.

So steh ich, weisend, was mir widerfuhr;
Denn harte Lauge hat es wohl gebleicht,
Doch keine hat es gänzlich ausgespült.
So ruf ich dich. Mein Ruf ist dünn und leicht.
Du hörst, was spricht.

Vernimmst du auch, was fühlt? which allegedly shows her first poetry volume of 1917 

The 1917 volume by Gertrud Kolmar is called "Gedichte" (poems), publisher: Egon Fleischel & Co., Berlin. 

Here is one of the early poems, called "Verlorenes Lied" (lost song):
 (declared as official in 1951 by court ruling).

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 20th  Century is one of her chief non-scientific interests and Penelope is currently 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. 

Saturday 1 August 2015

Nadja Malacrida

There is a new site commemorating the life and work of Nadja - as the poet was known during the First World War :

If anyone knows the exact date of her birth please get in touch.  Thank you.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Enid Blyton (1897 - 1968) - British

ENID BLYTON (1897 – 1968) - BRITISH

It is always a pleasure to receive feedback about my weblog.  This morning came an e-mail from a gentleman called Cliff Watkins who brought my attention to the fact that the dates on my earlier post speculating as to whether Enid Blyton wrote any poetry during the First World War, are slightly incorrect.  Many thanks Indeed Cliff.

Although the 1901 Census lists Enid Blyton as ‘born in 1898’, she was in fact born in Dulwich on 11th August 1897.   It seems that Enid did write poetry during the First World War.  If you scroll down the excellent website of the Heritage Group in Beckenham (Kent, UK), you will find a school photograph taken in around 1914 showing what Enid looked like at that time.  You will also see that the trio of poems written by Enid and first published in ‘Nash’s Magazine’ during the First World War has been set to music by Gordon Carr.  These were performed on 9th March 2013 in St. George’s Church, Beckenham.

Nash’s Magazine was a British Literary Magazine, which merged in 1914 to form ‘Nash’s Pall Mall Magazine’

Enid completed her secondary schooling in 1915 and enrolled the following year on a teacher’s training course, which she completed in December 1918.

There is also an Enid Blyton Society – see

Enid Blyton’s work is still in copyright so I am unfortunately unable to give you examples of the poems she wrote at the time of WW1.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Event celebrating the life and work of Winifred Holtby, Hull, 19th September 2015


A one day event celebrating the life of Winifred Holtby will be held on Saturday, 19th September 2015 from 10 am till 4 pm at Hull History Centre, Worship Street, Hull, HU2 8GB (UK).  £20 per person.

The day will include exhibitions by Hull History Centre and Somerville College, Oxford and the duo The Hull to Scarborough Line will perform Take Back your Freedom – the Life and Times of Winifred Holtby. Rudston Tourist Office is involved with plans for a tour of some Winifred Holtby related locations.

If sufficient interest is shown, the Winifred Holtby Association may be relaunched.

For further information and to register, please contact the organiser Gill Fildes on

Thursday 25 June 2015

Marjorie Kane Smyth (1888 - 1974) - Australian Writer and WW1 VAD, Artist, Poet, Architect, Designer

I am indebted to Viv Newman who contacted me recently.  Viv is a writer who is currently researching First World War poetry.   She pointed out to me that Marjorie Kane Smyth who I had included in my List of Female Poets of the First World War under 'Britain' was in fact Australian.

Catherine Reilly ("Scars upon my heart") and Nosheen Khan ("Women's Poetry of the First World War" - for reference to both anthologies please see my Bibliography) did the most wonderful ground work for those of us wanting to find out more about women who wrote poetry during the First World War.  Neither Reilly nor Khan had the resources we have today so they are to be applauded.

I will now make sure Marjorie is in the correct place on the list.

Viv says:

"Marjorie Kane Smyth d.1936(?)
Australian, lived in New South Wales; father may have been a clergyman because in 1904 she passed Junior examinations at the Clergy Daughters’ School.  She was one of the early Australians to volunteer as a VAD (St. John's Ambulance Brigade), arriving in Egypt on 12 October 1915 …  She worked at No. 1 Australian General Hospital, ‘Heliopolis Palace’ a huge complex which according to the Hospital’s own records was in ‘the land of the Pharaohs’ as a 750 bed hospital (increasing to 1040 on arrival in France) from January 1915 to March 1916 . In Egypt the hopsital cared for patients from Gallipoli and then transferred to France.  Marjorie served with this hospital, attached to the QAIMNS, until June 1917.  She was awarded the 1914-1915 Star as well as the War and Victory medal."

According to other sources (see below), Marjorie was born in St. Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria.  Her husband was killed during the First World War and her date of death was 1974.  She was a modernist painter and her work was exhibited in the 1920s and 1930s in Sydney.

Many thanks indeed Viv Newman - Historian and Author of "We also served:  The Forgotten Women of the First World War and "Nursing through Shot and Shell:  A GReat War Nurse's Diary" -

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Female Poets who were VADs, nurses, ambulance drivers, etc. during The First World War

Regular followers of this weblog (which is an add on to the Commemorative Exhibition Project) will know that I have been researching female poets who were VADs, nurses, ambulance drivers and so on during the First World War.

If anyone knows of any who are not yet on this list please get in touch.  Many thanks.



Edith Bagnold (Great-grandmother to Samantha Cameron wife of the current British Prime Minister)
Maud Anna Bell
Beatrix Brice Miller - went to France as a Lady Helper with her mother who was a trained nurse
Vera Brittain
May Wedderburn Cannan (VAD - Rouen, France 1915 and Paris in 1918)
Agatha Christie - VAD in Devon
Jessica Stewart Dismorr (1885 - 1939) - Artist who nursed in France in WW1
Eva Dobell
Lady Helena Emily Gleichen (1873 - 1947) - Artist. Radiographer during WW1
Rosaleen Louise Graves (1894 – 1989) – poet, WW1 VAD nurse joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment on 17th September 1915; after initial training in Chislehurst and London sent to No. 54 General Hospital, Wimereux, France on 23rd November 1917; served in France until 14th March 1919.
I. Grindley
Cicely Hamilton - Royaumont - administrator; actress, poet, writer
Winifred Holtby - drove ambulances in France
Violet Jessop
Winifred Mabel Letts - served with the Almeric Paget team of physiotherapists
Nina Mardel
Naomi Mitchison - Scottish
Carola Oman
Jessie Pope - was a volunteer at St. Dunstan's home for the Blind during WW1
Olivia Robertson
May Sinclair (Travelled to France with Dr. H. Monro in August 1914, May had to return to England after six weeks due to shell shock)
Freya Stark 
Millicent Sutherland - funded a hospital - her work was painted by the French artist Victor Tardieu
Joan Thompson
Evelyn Underhill (I am not sure if she nursed but she did work for the SSAFA - Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force Association)
Alberta Vickridge
M. Winifred Wedgwood


Mary Borden set up and funded a medical team and went to France 1915 - 1918
Amelia Earhart - trained as a VAD assistant in Canada 1917 - 1918
Margaret Helen Florine RN (1879 - 1949) – American poet and nurse in WW1
Mary H.J. Henderson lived in England and went with Elsa Inglis to Russia and Serbia to nurse
Elizabeth Nourse (1859 - 1938) ARTIST - worked in France helping refugees WW1
Marie Van Vorst
Edith Wharton
Ella Wheeler Wilcox - went to France in 1918 to read poetry and lecture to the troops

Grace Ellery Channing went as a War Correspondent


Iso (Isobel) Rae (1860 - 1940) Artist - joined the VAD in London WW1 - Etaples Base Camp
Marjorie Kane Smyth (1888 - 1974) - VAD with St. John's Ambulance Brigade Egypt and France
Jessie Traill (1891 - 1967) Artist - joined the VAD in London WW1 worked in hospitals in England and France


Stephanie HOLLENSTEIN - Artist who nursed, became a soldier, then a war artist in WW1


Henriette HARDENBERG - poet and nurse


Elizabeta POLONSKAYA - poet and doctor


Emine SEMIYE ONASY (1864 – 1944) – writer/nurse

Don't forget - Event at the Royal College of Nursing, 3rd July 2015 - Women's Poetry in the Great War


The Royal College of Nursing is hosting an event on 3rd July 2015 entitled ‘Women’s Poetry in the Great War: Poetry and Music’.   Featured will be British poet/nurse Audrey Ardern along with musicians Lucas Jordan on flute and Fabricio Mattos on guitar.

Poetry and music followed by a drinks reception.  Tickets are £15 and can be ordered from

The Royal College of Nursing, Cavendish Square, London W1G 0RN

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Kathleen Grant (1878 - 1924) - British

When it comes to research, Phil Dawes is definitely the 'super sleuth'.  Phil has found quite a bit of information about Kathleen. 

Gertrude Anna Sophia Kathleen Grant was born in Natal in South Africa - her father was Scottish and her mother, Mary Jane, was of Irish descent.  The family moved to Scotland and then to London.  When Kathleen's father died, her mother remarried and the family lived for a time in Kensington before moving to Bath and then to Cheltenham.  In Cheltenham, Kathleen lived at Keynsham Villa in London Road.   She wrote plays as well as poetry and raised money for the war effort during WW1.  

Kathleen died in Cheltenham in 1924.

With many thanks to Phil Dawes for finding this information.

Friday 22 May 2015

Kathleen Grant - another poet to add to my list

The amazing thing about my First World War commemorative project is the way people from all over the world contact me through my weblog and send me interesting information.

Sue Light of the wonderful Scarlet Finders Website about nurses in the First World War - - recently sent me a delightful WW1 collection of poetry written by a lady called Kathleen Grant in 1914 – 1915 and published by Kathleen through Sherton’s printers and stationers  under the title ‘War Poems’.  Thank you so much Sue – this is a fantastic find and it was very kind of you to think of me.

It seems that Kathleen lived in Cheltenham because if you look at the poem she wrote about collecting for the war effort with her dog Pon-Pon, a black and white Pomeranian, she mentions ‘the Mayor of Cheltenham’.  The address on the end of some of Kathleen’s poems is Keynsham Villa.

If anyone in Cheltenham has any information about Kathleen Grant please get in touch.  Ideally, I would like a photograph and some biographical information about Kathleen.  Thank you.

Pon-Pon walks in the Prom. By Kathleen Grant

“Pom-Pom” walks in the Prom,

Put a penny, or a pound,

Anything that’s round.

He’s got a little black box on his back ;

Put it in gently, you’ll soon learn the knack.

Pom’s a pretty dog – “black and white,”

With his flags he’s a rattling good sight ;

His ribbons are sweet, it’s a dear dog you’ll meet,

He will beg – his job he’s not shunned !

With a box for the National Relief Fund.

So give him a chance, ladies and gentlemen, do !

And show the Mayor of Cheltenham

What Pon-Pon can do.

KATHLEEN GRANT, Keynsham Villa, September 1914







Sunday 17 May 2015

Event about poetry written by women during WW1

A special evening commemorating the poetry of the First World War written by women will be held on 3rd July 2015 from 6 pm - 8 pm at the Royal College of Nursing, Cavendish Square, London, W1G 0RN.

Tickets are £15.

For further information, please contact the Royal College of Nursing via their website, Facebook Page or Twitter, etc.

One of the poets featured will be Alberta Vickridge who, like fellow poet Agatha Christie, was also a VAD nurse during WW1 in Torquay.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Elinor Jenkins (c.1893 - 1920)

Elinor May Jenkins was born in India where her father was a civil servant who became Vice President of the Indian Viceroy's Council.  Elinor's mother was Florence Mildred Jenkins, nee Trevor, who was also born in India. Florence's father was Sir Arthur  Charles Trevor KCSI.   Elinor's six siblings were Arthur Lewis Jenkins, born in 1892 - who also became a poet - Evan Meredith Jenkins, born in 1896 - who became a Governor of the Punjab - Joyce Angharad Jenkins, born in 1897, David Llewellyn Jenkins, born in 1899 - who became Baron Jenkins a high court judge - John Vaughn Jenkins, born in 1903, and Owain Trevor Jenkins, born in 1907 - who was later knighted.

The Jenkins children were educated in England, where they lived at the family home in Littleham, Exmouth, Devon. Elinor attended Southlands School in Exmouth.  In 1912, following the death of Elinor's father, the family went to live in Kew.

During the First World War, Elinor worked as a Clerk for the British Government's MI5 Department.  According to research carried out by Phil Tomaselli, Elinor was still emplyed by MI5 when she died  on 28th February 1920 at the family home in Richmond.  Elinor was 26 years old.  Representatives from the office attended the funeral and the staff subscribed for a wreath.

Elinor's collection of WW1 poems was published under the title "Poems" by Sidgwick and Jackson of London in 1915.  Elinor's poems were also included in several WW1 anthologies.

Dulce Et Decorum?
We buried of our dead the dearest one-
Said to each other, ‘Here then let him lie,
And they may find their place, when all is done,
From the old may tree standing guard near by.’

Strong limbs whereon the wasted life blood dries,
And soft cheeks that a girl might wish her own,
A scholar’s brow, o’ershadowing valiant eyes,
Henceforth shall pleasure charnel-worms alone.

For we, that loved him, covered up his face,
And laid him in the sodden earth away,
And left him lying in that lonely place
To rot and moulder with the mouldering clay.

The hawthorn that above his grave head grew
Like an old crone toward the raw earth bowed,
Wept softly over him, the whole night through,
And made him of tears a glimmering shroud.

Oh Lord of Hosts, no hallowed prayer we bring,
Here for They Grace is no importuning,
No room for those that will not strive nor cry
When loving kindness with our dead lay slain:
Give us our fathers’ heathen hearts again,
Valour to dare, and fortitude to die.


Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978)

Information supplied by Phil Tomaselli from KV 1/50 & KV 1/52 (The National Archives) and from the first edition of the MI5 female staff magazine "The Nameless Magazine".

With many thanks to Jacky Rodger who sent me a wealth of information about Elinor and her family members and discovered that Elinor's brother Arthur was also a poet;
and for additional information to

Phil Dawes,
Dean Echenberg
Ian Glen, Arts and Humanities Librarian at Swansea University
Sidgwick and Jackson.
Phil Tomaselli

Saturday 2 May 2015

Book Review: "Images of the Great War" by Lawrence Dunn, published by Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd., London, 2015

Lawrence Dunn, an artist from Sunderland, guides us through a brief history of the First World War featuring a selection of images by some of the British and Empire artists, cartoonists, poets, photographers and sculptors of the time -  paintings, drawings, illustrations and photographs, many of which are from the author's own collection.  With the skill that only an artist has, Lawrence encourages us to have a closer look at some of those works and in so doing brings the conflict to life as never before. In many instances, Lawrence also invites the reader to compare the styles of artists who have painted the same view or person.  

Lawrence includes poetry in between each artist featured, skilfully creating a bridge to the next artist. I was very pleased to see that the female poets he chose are all on my List of Female Poets of the First World War.  I have already written panels for some of the female poets from Lawrence's book, where you will find poems by: Beatrix Brice Miller who went to France in 1914 as a 'lady helper' with her mother who was a trained nurse, Jessie Pope who was a volunteer at St Dunstan's Home for the Blind (now Blind Veterans UK) and whose poetry these days I feel has been misunderstood, Lucy Foster Whitmell, Vera Brittain who was a nurse during WW1, Lady Margaret Sackville, Iris Tree, Winifred Mabel Letts who was a masseuse/physiotherapist with the Almeric Paget Unit during WW1, May Wedderburn Cannan who helped out at the Coffee Stall on Rouen station, Anna Gordon Keown, Alice Meynell, Katharine Tynan, Elinor Jenkins, Muriel Elsie Graham, May Hershel-Clarke, Mary H.J. Henderson, Eileen Newton, Emily Orr and Doprothy Una Ratcliffe.

I already knew the names of some of the WW1 artists that Lawrence has included but there were many that were new to me.  I was interested to see that Lawrence has dedicated the book to his second cousin, Corporal Michael Davison of the Northumberland Fusiliers (1st Tyneside Irish).  Michael was an underground putter at Ryhope Colliery when he enlisted in 1914 and was killed on the first day of the Battle of Arras - Easter Monday, 9th April 1917.  My great-uncle James Yule was a Private in the Northumberland Fusiliers, 23rd (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion and he too was killed on 9th April 1917, as were the poets R.E. Vernède and Edward Thomas,  

Beginning with Lady Elizabeth Butler, both male and female WW1 artists of all disciplines are represented in the book - painters, cartoonists, photographers, sculptors and so on.  But this book is not just about the artists, poets and pictures of WW1, Lawrence goes into detail about some of the battles and includes personal stories about the artists and the areas and subjects depicted.   On page 137 you will find paintings by the artist William Patrick Roberts, who was at the Battle of Arras on 9th April 1917 and is therefore of special interest to me.

If I had to choose one picture, it would be "Merry-Go-Round" by Mark Gertler - it reminds me very much of the recent commemorative WW1 painting by the artist Ruth Swartberg entitled "Faceless Riders". 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would highly recommend it.  "Images of the Great War" by Lawrence Dunn, published by Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd., London, 2015.

For further information about the author please follow the link: