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.