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 www.femalewarpoets.blogspot.co.uk and send me interesting information.

Sue Light of the wonderful Scarlet Finders Website about nurses in the First World War - http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/ - 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:  http://www.austinmacauley.com/author/dunn-lawrence

Friday 1 May 2015

May Sinclair (1863 - 1946)

Mary Amelia St. Clair, who took the pen name May Sinclair, was born on 24th August 1863 in Rock Ferry on the Wirral Peninsula in the north west of England.  Her father was a wealthy shipowner.  May was educated for a while at Cheltenham Ladies College.   

When she was in her teens, May's father died and she moved to Ilford.  In 1886 she published her first volume of poetry - using the name "Julian Sinclair".  

When the First World War broke out May was a successful author, having published numerous novels and collections of stories as well as a highly respected biography of the Brontë Sisters called "The Three Brontës".  She was a keen supporter of the Suffragette movement and wrote pamphlets for the Woman Writers Suffrage League.

May joined Dr. Hector Munro's Flying Ambulance Unit as Dr. Munro's Personal Assistant and travelled to Belgium in September 1914 with the Unit, which she also helped to fund.   By then, May was 52 which in those days was 'old'.  After six weeks May returned home suffering from shell shock.  She wrote about her experiences in "A Journal of Impressions in Belgium", which was published in New York by Macmillan in 1915.

Three of May's nephews enlisted - two died and one was taken prisoner and returned home ill with pneumonia.  May nursed him back to health.

May continued writing after the war until she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in the late 1920s.  She retired to Buckinghamshire where she died on 14th November 1946.

Here is an extract from one of May's WW1 poems:

Field Ambulance in Retreat
Via Dolorosa, Via Sacra

A straight flagged road, laid on the rough earth,
A causeway of stone from beautiful city to city,
Through the flat green land, by plots of flowers, by black canals thick with heat.

The road-makers made it well
Of fine stone, strong for the feet of the oxen and of the great Flemish horses,
And for the high wagons piled with corn from the harvest,
And the labourers are few;
They and their quiet oxen stand aside and wait
By the long road loud with the passing of the guns, the rush of armoured cars
And the tramp of an army on the march forward to battle;
And, where the piled corn-wagons went, our dripping Ambulance carried home
Its red and white harvest from the fields.

From "A Journal of Impressions in Belgium".

When I began my research, May was the first Female Poet I found and I felt it appropriate to remember her on 1st May.   There is now a May Sinclair Society - www.maysinclairsociety.com - and a Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/maysinclairsociety/ dedicated to the memory of May.