Monday 26 December 2016

Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925) - American poet and writer

Amy was a Pullitzer Prize-winning, cigar-smoking poet from Bookline, Massachusets America. She coined the phrase “unrhymed cadence” for blank verse.   In London during 1913, it was Amy who asked Rupert Brooke to ‘speak up’ when he read his poems at The Poetry Bookshop.   

Amy's WW1 collection “Men, Women & Ghosts” was published by The MacMillan Co., New York, in 1916.

Another collection, with the title of “Sword Blades & Poppy Seed” was published in 1914 by Houghton Mifflin & Co., New York.

Amy died in 1925 and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusets.

Sources:  Wikipedia and Cecil Roberts "The Years of Promise" (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1968)

Friday 23 December 2016

List update

Many thanks to "In the Know" who pointed out that Hilary Douglas Clark Pepler (HDCP) should be on the list of Forgotten Poets and not Female Poets.  This will be put right forthwith.  I must admit that I did put a question mark against the name in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) and had not got around to researching Hilary.   Hilary, as "In the Know" points out is both a male and female name in the UK and indeed I have a cousin Hilary and a cousin Elliott, who are female and a neighbour called Cameron who unlike Cameron Diaz is male.

I am indeed grateful to the eagle eyes of those 'in the know' who are helping me compile a list of both male and female poets of the First World War.

My current project is the poets who were involved in WW1 in 1917 as it was the year in which my Great Uncle was killed.  He was lost on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917 at Arras.

Now to include Hilary on Forgotten Poets of the First World War.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Kathleen Ethel Burne (1879 - 1959) - British poet and school teacher

My grateful thanks to Lesley Young for providing the following information:

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 Burne, 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.  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’ 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.

Sources:  Information kindly supplied by Lesley Young who has carried out extensive research on the life and work of Kathleen, and members of Kathleen's family.

Christmas Eve, 1916 by Kathleen Ethel Burne

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 !

Saturday 3 December 2016

Female Poets of the First World War Volume 2 now out

In time for Christmas.   Volume 2 concentrates on British poets and features some of the lesser-known women writers.  Also featured is poetry written by Munitions Workers and Schoolgirls, plus a guest article about poetry and knitting in WW1 by Phil Dawes.

To order a copy please go to

"Wonderful book - well researched. Definitely worth getting a copy" - Dominic Sheridan.

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Exciting News from the May Sinclair Society!

Exciting news regarding May Sinclair, who was one of the most important and famous writers at the time of WW1 on both sides of the Atlantic.  May helped to fund, and accompanied, Dr. Hector Munro’s Flying Ambulance Unit to France in September 1914.  She stayed to help out for six weeks before returning to Britain to write about her experiences.  May Sinclair was the first poet I researched for the exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War at the Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.  May is also one of the poets featured in Volume 1 of Female Poets of the First World War, available from - also available as a download.

From: Dr Rebecca Bowler (Keele University), Dr Claire Drewery (Sheffield Hallam), and Suzanne Raitt (William & Mary College)
“We received some exciting news yesterday: our proposal for a series of critical editions of May Sinclair's works has been approved by Edinburgh University Press!

The Edinburgh Critical Editions of the Works of May Sinclair will publish Sinclair’s collected prose works: twenty-one novels, six short story collections (bundled in two volumes of ‘shorter fiction’), two volumes of philosophy, one biography (of the Brontë sisters) and one memoir (of the First World War). There will also be one volume of Sinclair’s collected non-fiction, including The Way of Sublimation. Non-fiction and fiction will appear side by side so that the dialogues between each can be explored. Rebecca Bowler, Claire Drewery and Suzanne Raitt are the General Editors.

May Sinclair was an innovative and influential Modernist writer, and these critical editions will, we hope, attract further scholarship on her writings and revive interest in Sinclair as an important modernist writer and public intellectual.

We will be in touch in the New Year with a call for expressions of interest from scholars who wish to edit individual volumes.”

Find out more about The May Sinclair Society -
And follow them on Facebook here -

The Wilfred Owen Story, 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK, CH41 6AE. Open Tuesday - Friday 11 am till 2 pm or by appointment o7903 337995.

Also on Facebook


Sunday 20 November 2016

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 – 1919) – American poet “The Poetess of Passion”

The Poetess of Passion

Ella Wheeler was born on 5th November 1850 in Johnstown, Wisconsin, USA.  Soon after her birth, the family moved to Madison.  Ella began writing poetry at an early age, and became known as "The Poetess of Passion".

You may have heard the line “Laugh and the world laughs with you” which is from Ella’s poem “Solitude”, first published in “The New York Sun” in 1898.   “Ella Wheeler Wilcox was probably the most widely read poet of the day”, selling 100,000 copies of her poetry collection entitled “One Hundred Poems” in the early years of the twentieth century (Hollis, 40). 

When planning his trip to America, Rupert Brooke suggested he might take a “message for the continent of America and for Ella Wheeler” (Hollis, 67).

Ella m arried Robert Wilcox of Meriden, Connecticut in 1884.  They travelled extensively throughout Europe and Asia.  Ella's husband died in 1916.

Ella travelled to France after America entered the First World War in order to read poetry to the American Troops - quite an unertaking for a woman of 67.  They were very pleased to see her and really appreciated her performances. Ella wrote poems for the troops while she was in France and published them in a volume entitled "Hello, Boys".

During her lifetime, Ella wrote and pulished more than 70 books, wrote thousands of poems and also wrote plays and magazine articles.

Ella died on 30th October 1919.  In spite of her fame, Ella Wheeler Wilcox is now one of the ‘forgotten’ poets of the First World War.

“War Mothers” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There is something in the sound of drum and fife
That stirs all the savage instincts into life.

In the old times of peace we went our ways,
Through proper days
Of little joys and tasks. Lonely at times,
When from the steeple sounded wedding chimes,
Telling to all the world some maid was wife—
But taking patiently our part in life
As it was portioned us by Church and State,
Believing it our fate.
     Our thoughts all chaste
Held yet a secret wish to love and mate
     Ere youth and virtue should go quite to waste.
But men we criticised for lack of strength,
And kept them at arm's length.
Then the war came—
The world was all aflame!
The men we had thought dull and void of power
Were heroes in an hour.
He who had seemed a slave to petty greed
Showed masterful in that great time of need.
He who had plotted for his neighbour's pelf,
Now for his fellows offers up himself.
And we were only women, forced by war
To sacrifice the things worth living for.

Something within us broke,
    Something within us woke,
        The wild cave-woman spoke.

When we heard the sound of drumming,
    As our soldiers went to camp,
    Heard them tramp, tramp, tramp;
As we watched to see them coming,
    And they looked at us and smiled
    (Yes, looked back at us and smiled),
As they filed along by hillock and by hollow,
    Then our hearts were so beguiled
    That, for many and many a day,
    We dreamed we heard them say,
'Oh, follow, follow, follow!'
    And the distant, rolling drum
    Called us 'Come, come, come!'
    Till our virtue seemed a thing to give away.

War had swept ten thousand years away from earth.
    We were primal once again.
    There were males, not modern men;
We were females meant to bring their sons to birth.
    And we could not wait for any formal rite,
    We could hear them calling to us, 'Come to-night;
For to-morrow, at the dawn,
We move on!'
    And the drum
    Bellowed, 'Come, come, come!'
And the fife
Whistled, 'Life, life, life!'

So they moved on and fought and bled and died;
Honoured and mourned, they are the nation's pride.
We fought our battles, too, but with the tide
Of our red blood, we gave the world new lives.
Because we were not wives
We are dishonoured. Is it noble, then,
To break God's laws only by killing men
To save one's country from destruction?
We took no man's life but gave our chastity,
And sinned the ancient sin
To plant young trees and fill felled forests in.

Oh, clergy of the land,
Bible in hand,
All reverently you stand,
    On holy thoughts intent
    While barren wives receive the sacrament!
Had you the open visions you could see
    Phantoms of infants murdered in the womb,
    Who never knew a cradle or a tomb,
Hovering about these wives accusingly.

Bestow the sacrament! Their sins are not well known—
Ours to the four winds of the earth are blown.

Source: "Poems of Purpose" (1919)

Ella features in Volume 1 of Female Poets of the First World War available from

Also available as a download.

Source:  “Now all Roads lead to France  The Last Years of Edward Thomas” by Matthew Hollis (Faber & Faber, London, 2012)

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Carolyn Wells (1862 - 1942) - American writer, poet and journalist

Carolyn was born on 18th June 1862 in Rahway, New Jersey, USA.   Her parents were William Edmund Wells and his wife Anna Wells nee Potter Woodruff.  Two of Carolyn's sisters died in childhood.

At the age of six, Carolyn contracted Scarlet Fever and as a result suffered a loss of hearing.  She nevertheless overcame the handicap and went on to graduate from school and was then taught at home by private tutors, studying the humanities and science.  Carolyn worked as a librarian at Rahway Library Association.  During her life-time, Carolyn wrote and had published over 170 books including detective stories, children's books, humour, parody and poetry.  Her work was published in "Punch" magazine and she also wrote for various newspapers and contributed to "The Yellow Book".   Her detective books were particularly popular.  In 1913, she published "The Technique of the Mystery Story".

In 1918, at the age of 55, Carolyn married 62-year old widower Hadwin Houghton who was heir to the Houghton-Mifflin publishing company.  The couple went to live in an apartment block in Manhatten where Hadwin died the following year.  Carolyn lived in New York until her death on 26th March 1942.

Carolyn's life-story "The Rest of my Life" was published in 1937.

With grateful thanks to Dr. Margaret Stetz, May and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities, Delaware University, USA for bringing Carolyn Wells to my attention and for suggesting I look at the following poem written by Carolyn and published in 1919:


I seem to wander in a world of books,
With titles such as, "'Neath the Trumpet's Blare",
And "Sammy Fire-Away!" and "Private Snooks", And "Hank, the Yank", and "Danny Do-and-Dare!" And though the war is over, Over There,
Yet must be published books already penned They pour from presses daily I declare
Of making many war books there's no end!
And, somehow I opine-the way it looks - That for an aftermath we must prepare:
Adventure yarns of wartime cranks and crooks, And lives of heroes who have done their share. True tales of noble deeds of courage rare;
Histories of events, as yet unkenned: Journals and diaries, and such small ware-
Of making many war books there's no end !
And there'll be messages from soldier spooks, Transmitted through a wily medium's care;
Telling of waving trees and limpid brooks
Where rove the souls who've climbed the Golden Stair: And poems "Lyric Lines To France, the Fair",
"Red Poppy Fields", "My Faithful Four Years' Friend", "Heroic Feet", "A Lock of Lemuel's Hair"-
Of making many war books there's no end ! L'Etoile:
Publisher, Printer, Editor, forbear !
Nor longer than you must, your lists extend :
Do let this gushing output stop somewhere Of making many war books there's no end !

First published in "The Bookman", January 1919, page 643


Dr. Margaret Stetz "The Transatlantic" and late Nineteenth-Century American Women's Humor" published in "Studies in American Humor", Volume 1, 2015, Pensylvania State University, PA.

"Encyclopedia of American Humorists" Edited by Stephen H. Gale, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxford, 1988

"Mysteries Unlocked Essays in Honour of Douglas G. Greene, edited by Curtis Evans, published by McFarland and Company, Jefferson, 2014

Wednesday 2 November 2016

May Sinclair Letter to the publisher John Lane

Exciting news from the May Sinclair Society about a letter discovered recently tucked away in one of May Sinclair's books. 

It seems that May was very much a part of the London literary scene during the time of the First World War.  "Theophilus Boll places her at a party Lane gave in 1914 to launch Wyndham Lewis’s Blast! (‘May Sinclair enjoyed herself hugely with Ivor Brown at the dinner that John Lane gave on July 15, 1914, at the Dieudonné Restaurant in Ryder Street, St. James, to set off the Blast!’). Ivor Brown said of this ‘I don’t know how far M.S. was impressed, but at that period she liked to go about and be in the midst of literary goings-on’."

Read more on the Society's website:

100th anniversary of the publishing of the poem "To the Vanguard" by Beatrix Brice Miller

Today, 2nd November 2016, marks the centenary of the publication of the poem "To the Vanguard" by British poet Beatrix Brice Miller in "The Times" newspaper.  Beatrix and her Mother went as Lady Helpers with the British Expeditionary Force in 1914.   Beatrix never forgot the first men to go to the continent in 1914 - The "Old Contemptibles" as they became known.   She campaigned tirelessly for memorials to them and held fund-raising events to make that possible.

Beatrix is one of the poets featured in Volume Two of "Female Poets of the First World War" which also includes other British women poets as well as sections about munitions workers and poetry written by schoolgirls at the time of WW1.  Also included is Phil Dawes' article about knitting in WW1.

You can purchase Volume Two of "Female Poets of the First World War" on-line now via

With grateful thanks to everyone who supports this commemorative project and all those who helped in the collection of the poems in Volume 2, to Phil Dawes for his continued support and for the article on poetry and knitting in WW1, Roger Quinn for information about Janet Begbie (WW1 poet Harold Begbie's daughter), David Reynolds for information about Beatrix Brice Miller and to Paul Breeze who edits all my work.

Photo:  Dr. Margaret Stetz who is Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware, USA.

Saturday 29 October 2016

Ella Mary Stratton (1898 - 1981) - British

With many thanks to Phil Dawes who has researched Ella M. Stratton for me.  This is what Phil wrote:

Ella Mary Stratton was born on 31st July 1898, in the village of Haverigg, near Millom in the Coounty of Cumberland, which is now called south Cumbria.  The area was at that time a centre for iron ore smelting.  Her father was the Reverend Watson Stratton, curate at St Luke’s Church, a small Anglican Chapel-of -Ease.  Ella’s mother was Sarah Stratton, nee Simpson and her parents were married in Huntingdon in 1862.

Ella’s father was not the typical churchman and his modest curacy probably reflected his modest background which was as a Fenland farm labourer’s son. 

On the 1911 census, Ella was a 12 year old schoolgirl. Her father was by then curate of St. David’s Church in the tiny village of Airmyn near Goole, Yorkshire. He was a regular contributor to the local paper on a wide range of topics including the natural world and growing vegetables.

In 1914 Ella’s poem ‘The Navy’ was selected by Dr. Charles Forshaw for inclusion in his anthology ‘One Hundred Best Poems on the European War by Women Poets of the Empire’. It was written when she was just 16 years old.   

A brief report of Ella’s marriage in the “Telegraph” gives us a glimpse of her achievements prior to June 1932, when she married Ewart John Buxton, a dentist, at Peterborough Cathedral.  She is described as ‘Ella Mary Stratton MBBS London, MRCS, LRCP, DTM’.   From this we can infer that she attended the London Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine for Women and that she qualified as a doctor and subsequently became a surgeon.

A slightly longer report from the “Derby Times” of 13th June 1932 gives us an added dimension: Ella is described as a doctor who has been working for three years in the Gold Coast, West Africa for the British Government.   It appears that she had only just got back in time for the ceremony in the Cathedral as she was wearing ‘travelling clothes’ rather than a wedding dress. We also find that both her parents are dead, hence perhaps the note that the couple ‘were married quietly’.  Ella was given away by her cousin Alex Shelton, from Ramsey in the Fens.

The newlyweds settled down in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where Ewart worked as a Dental Surgeon.  In those days it was still normal, even obligatory in some professions, for a married woman to give up work. On the 1939 war-time census we find that Ella’s  job is listed as ‘Unpaid domestic duties’, but she must have told the enumerator of her previous career as underneath is written: ‘Medical practitioner, retired’.  Another note tells us that both of the Buxtons were doing wartime duties during the Second World War for the Air Raid Patrol by ‘assisting at local First Aid Post’.

Ella and Ewart must have eventually retired back to the region of her birth in south west Cumbria. Ewart died in Ulverston district in 1976 and Ella died in Barrow-in-Furness district in 1981, aged 83.

Phil Dawes, 27th October 2016

Ella’s poem “THE NAVY” was published in “One Hundred of the Best Poems on the European War by Women Poets of the Empire”, Edited by Dr. Charles Forshaw, FRSL, founder of the International Institute of British Poetry (Elliot Stock, London, 1916)

Long, low, dark and grey,
Sinister warships at break of day,
Silently steaming our coasts around,
Straining at the leash as a tracker's hound.

Small, dark periscope top,
Showing a moment, — the next to drop,
Shattered at last by a gunner's skill.
One less submarine working ill.

Long, lean sides of the ship
Leaving no chance for torpedo to rip,
Searchlight so dazzling revealing the night,
Speed — to o'ertake the foeman in flight.

Men of the Navy, we give you your due,
None so enduring, unselfish as you,
Giving your all in the rush and the strife,
Guarding our honour and guarding our life.

Sunday 16 October 2016

Helen Lanyon (1882 – 1979) – British poet

My thanks to Carley for asking me to research Helen Lanyon.
Helen was born Helen Redfern in Kensington in 1882.  Her father was Clement Cotterell Redfern, a barrister and her mother was Margaret A.B. Redfern.  Helen had a half-sister called Clara, who was born in 1871 and a sister called Joan, who was born in 1882.

Helen married Charles James Lanyon, great-grandson of Sir Charles Lanyon the Irish architect, on 23rd August 1902. In his obituary in 1940, Charles's wife Helen was described as the “distinguished poet” and mention was made of her poems about the Antrim Glens and her collection entitled “The Hill O’Dreams, and other poems” (published in Dublin by Sealy, Bryers and Walker in 1909).   The poem “At Easter” is included in that collection.  This was set to music by the composer Sir Herbert Hamilton Harty (1879 - 1941).  Hamilton Harty joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during WW1 and served in the North Sea.

Helen and her husband had a daughter called Carla Lanyon Lanyon who was also a poet and writer. Carla seems to have married Edward S Hacker in 1927 and they had a son.

In this anthology, she was described as Miss Helen Lanyon :

Helen Lanyon died in 1979.

With thanks to history researchers Sue Robinson of Wenches in Trenches the Roses of No Mans Land and Kate O’Mara for their help in finding out when Helen was born, was married and died.  

All we need now is a photograph of Helen Lanyon.

Friday 14 October 2016

Zelda F.A. West (1875 - ?) – British

Looking through Catherine W. Reilly's Bibliography of English WW1 Poetry, I found an entry for Zelda F.A. West.

Zelda Frances Annie West was born in Bangalore, Madras, India on 10th February 1875.  Her parents were Francis West and his wife Caroline.

Zelda’s poem “The Battlefield” was published in The WW1 Anthology “A Book of Poems for The Blue Cross Fund”, published in 1917 by Jarrolds, London and sold in aid of the Blue Cross Fund, which is still going strong today.  You can read all of the poems in the anthology here:

I haven’t been able to find out anything more about Zelda or if she wrote any other poems.  She was alive in 1947.  If anyone can help please get in touch.

Source:  Find my Past and Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)

Thursday 13 October 2016

Alexandra Etheldred Grantham (pen-name A.E.G.) (1868 - 1945) - German-born poet

With many thanks to 'Michael Bully' who reminded me that I had not yet researched or posted A.E.G.  Michael has a wonderful website dedicated to the Sea Poetry of the First World War and has recently started a website about the poetry of the Second World War:
Alexandra Etheldred Sylvia Mary Emily von Herder was born in Germany.  She was the youngest daughter of Alexander von Herder of Schloss Sabastein, Thurgen, Lake Constance and his wife, Countess Anne, nee Wilding, daughter of Count Ernest Wilhelm Wilding von Königsbrűck, 1st Prince of Radali.

Alexandra studied at Girton College, Cambridge.  On 28th April 1894, Alexandra married Frederick William Grantham, the second son of Sir William Grantham JP of Eaton Square London.  They were married at St. George’s church in Hannover Square, London.   Alexandra and Frederick had the following children:

Hugo Frederick born 1895
Alexander William George born 1899
Eric Howard, born and died 1901
And Godfrey Harry born 1911.

Frederick, who was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, had joined the Volunteers while at university.  Frederick was called to the Bar, Inner Temple in 1895.  In 1893 he joined the Post Office Rifles as a Reserve Officer and in 1899 the Militia of the Royal Munster Fusiliers.  He served in South Africa during the Boer War and was awarded The Queen’s Medal in 1902.

As a Reserve Officer, Frederick volunteered for active service on 6th August 1914. He attained the rank of Captain and was posted to France with the Royal Munster Fusiliers on 22nd September 1914.   He was killed on 9th May 1915 near Richbourg l’Avoue but was initially reported as wounded and missing, which must have been very hard for Alexandra, of German birth and with three sons, one of whom was also fighting in France - Hugo Frederick joined the 1st Battalion of the 44th Foot Essex Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant and was killed on 28th June 1915 fighting in Gallipoli.  He was mentioned in despatches.   Hugo was buried at Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery in Gallipoli.

Godfrey was killed during the Second World War in June 1942.

Alexander went on to become a Governor of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Fire Service named a fireboat in his honour.

Alexandra’s WW1 collection “Mater dolorosa” was published in 1915 by Heinemann and dedicated to Hugo Frederick Grantham.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)

Alexandra’s collection “Per Aspera ad Astra“, published in 1907 is available here

Monday 10 October 2016

Teresa Hooley (1888 – 1973) – British

My thanks to John Seriot whose question about the poem “A War Film” prompted me to research Teresa who is on my list of Female Poets of the First World War and to Debbie Cameron who found Teresa's First World War work record card.

Teresa was born in Derbyshire in 1888.  Her parents were Terah Hooley (1839 – 1927), a lace manufacturer, and his second wife, Mary Eliza, nee Swaffield (1854 - 1928) who he married in 1883.

Teresa had two brothers and Ernest Terah Hooley, the financier was her half–brother.  Her brother Noel Joseph was born in 1885 and her brother Basil Terah Hooley was born in 1893.   Another brother, Paul Terah Hooley, died the year of his birth in 1899.

Basil served with the 7th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters and was a tank commander at Amiens in 1918.  He was awarded the Military Medal in November 1918 for conspicuous gallantry, survived the war but died in the Influenza Epidemic of 1918. 

During the war, Teresa did her bit, working at home:

Teresa married Frank H. Butler in 1920 but the marriage does not appear to have lasted.

Teresa’s most famous poem “A War Film”, which is still in copyright but you can read  here, is the subject of much discussion, including this weblog

I agree with the writer that the poem would have been written during the 1920s.  Here’s why:

The “Old Contemptibles” Association (of which my Grandfather was a member and a President), was formed a few years after the end of the First World War in 1925.  

Although there were films shown during the conflict, the film “Mons” about the retreat from did not come out until 1926.
Teresa’s poem “A War Film” was included in her collection “Songs of all Seasons”, published by Jonathan Cape in 1927.

Her other collections were:

“Songs of the open”, published by Jonathan Cape in 1921; “Twenty-nine lyrics”, published by Jonathan Cape in 1924, “Collected Poems” published by Jonathan Cape in 1926 and “The singing heart”, published by Muller in 1944.

Sources:  Find my Past and Free Births, Marriages and Deaths; Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography", published by St. Martin's Press, New York in 1978.  Photo of Teresa's WW1 work record card kindly supplied by researcher Debbie Cameron.

NOTE:  “The Old Contemptibles” was the name given to the British professional soldiers who went to Belgium and France between August and November 1914.  They were awarded a special medal – The Mons Star.  The term was possibly coined by the British Propaganda Bureau who spread the word that Kaiser Wilhelm held the British Army in contempt, saying that his forces had been stopped by a “contemptible little army”.  Apparently this was not true but the name stuck and an Association of Old Contemptibles was formed in 1925.

Saturday 3 September 2016

Marie C. Lufkin (1863 - 1936) - British

I had a request some time ago from Nicholas Miller, a serious amateur historian with a particular interest in following first-hand accounts of events. Nicholas is from Newcastle and he had found a poem by Marie and the information about the man it is written about - Corporal George Wilson - among some papers belonging to a nurse at the 5th Northern Base Hospital in Leicester.  Her name was Helen Freer and she was the wife of a local dignitary who lived at The Stoneygate, Leicester. She was a volunteer and fund-raiser during WW1.

Nicholas wanted further information about Marie and I was able to find out a little about her.
Marie Christiana Lufkin was born in Middlesex in 1864.  Her parents were George Lufkin and his wife Elizabeth Christiana Lufkin, nee Harvey.  George was an Architect Surveyor who worked for the British Government in India.  Their other children were Helen Elizabeth born 1862, Clara Harriett, born 1865, George Harvey, born 1867 and Ursula Maud, born 1868.
In 1871 the family lived in Thistle Grove, West Kensington.  Elizabeth Christiana Lufkin died in 1873.  By 1891 the Lufkin family were living at Beaconsfield, Grange Road, Sutton, Surrey and George was a widower. The family went to live in Parkstone, Dorset when George retired and Henry became a Church of England clergyman.   In 1911, Helen, Marie, Clara and Ursula were living with their father in Poole, Dorset. And Ursula Maud was a hospital trained nurse.

It seems likely that Marie may also have trained as a nurse or that she volunteered to work as an orderly for she was working at the 5th Northern Base, Leicester during the First World War.  However, there is nothing on record at the Red Cross, who kindly checked their records for me for both Marie Christiana Lufkin and Maud Ursula Lufkin. 

Marie never married and died in Devon in 1936.

Here is another of Marie C. Lufkin's poems:                                            


'THAT we may bear His beacon lamp aloft,

Till all false ideals shrink beneath its ray,

Shorn of their tarnished glamour, stricken, mute, —

God bids us fight to-day.


Our sacred trust from all the ages past ;

For this, Life's heritage, the sword we wield.

E'en though our dear ones, to His bugle call,

We must the sooner yield.


And they, who hearing, pass to fuller life,

With clearer vision shall look forth and see

Something of that vast, wondrous plan which works

For all eternity.

From :  Volume 2 of  "One Hundred of the Best Poems on the European War" Edited by Dr. Charles Forshaw, FRSL,  Founder of the International Institute of British Poetry, published by Elliott Stock in 1916.

Photo:  Poem by Marie C. Lufkin typed on a piece of paper, courtesy of Nicholas Miller.
If anyone has any information about Marie or Corporal Wilson, please get in touch.  I should also like to find a photograph of Marie. 

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Nora Bomford (1894 - 1968) - British poet

Nora was born in India on 24th March 1894.  Her father, Sir Gerald Bomford, was a Surgeon General in the British Army and her mother was Mary Bomford, nee Eteson.   Nora’s siblings were Hugh, born in 1883, Lorna, born in 1884 and Guy born in 1900.   When in England, the family lived in Dover.

During the First World War, Nora did social work among the poor in north London and Lorna worked in the Food Rationing Service.   On 8th June 1938, Nora married her cousin Major-General Claude le Golchey, MC in Holburn, London.  The couple had no children.

During the Second World War, she looked after her nephew while her brother Guy was in India.  Nora died on 12th May 1968.     Her WW1 poetry collection “Poems of a Pantheist” was published by Chatto & Windus in 1918 and was dedicated to “P.Q.R.”.    

Photo:  Nora in Cairo in 1939, reproduced with kind permission from

A relative of Nora with whom I have been in contact, sent me this about Nora's collection which received mixed reviews:

"According to Nora's inscription in the front of my copy, a review in “The Nation” was 'the best of 15 reviews'. There was a photo in the “Daily Mirror”, and a 'scathing account' in “The New Witness”. The photo from the “Daily Mirror” (I assume) is pasted into the book (copy attached), but I haven't found any of the reviews."


Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and “Poems of a Pantheist” by Nora Bomford

E-mails from Richard Bomford

And with grateful thanks to Dr. Margaret Stetz who is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of Delaware in America for her continued support and encouragement of this commemorative exhibition project. Without her help I would not be able to do as much.

I stopped what I was doing the other day to answer an SOS e-mail from Suzy Glass.  There is to be an event at the Edinburgh Art Festival on Sunday, 31st July 2016 at which one of Nora Bomford’s poems will be read and they needed information about Nora.  Here is information about the event – tickets are limited so if you are interested don’t delay:

Thursday 21 July 2016

Marie Nizet (1859 – 1922) – Belgian Poet

In honour of Belgium's National Day - 21st July - here is a Belgian Poet

Marie Nizet was born in Brussels on 19th January 1859.  She was the daughter of Belgian writer and poet Francois-Joseph Nizet, who worked at the Royal Library in Brussels.

Marie studied in Paris and while there met several Rumanian people which probably inspired her interest in Rumanian mythology.  At the age of 19, Maris published a book entitled “Captain Vampire” – seventeen years before Bram Stoker published his book.

Marie married, divorced and brought up her son alone.  She died in Etterbeek, Belgium in 1922.

Here is the first line of Marie’s Poem “Fins Derniers” (Tr. Final Endings or perhaps Loose Ends?)

C’est fȇte aujourd’hui, mon amour,

Je viens frapper à votre porte.

Notre Bonheur est de retour :

Vous ȇtes mort et je suis morte.


From “Fins Derniers” first published in “Pour Axel de Missie”, Editions De La Vie Intellectuelle, Brussels, 1923.

Here is my translation of those lines: 

Today, my love, is a holiday,

I’m knocking on your door to say

Our happiness blooms again

But I am dead and you are slain.

With thanks to Peter Parsley for his help in finding the photograph of Marie.

Tuesday 19 July 2016

If women poets were included in a Poets' Corner who would you choose?

Why are no women poets of WW1 mentioned on Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey?   I supposed the old chestnut is because ‘they didn’t fight’ so were therefore not qualified to write about the first truly global conflict that rocked the planet.

However, contrary to popular belief, women did go to the war zones and many of them died or were killed serving the cause.  I think it is high time we had a women’s WW1 poetry section at Poets’ Corner.    Who would you suggest?  This is my list:

Rosaleen Graves – British - trained as a nurse during WW1, nursed in Britain and France, studied to become a doctor

Mary Borden – American poet and nurse

Elizaveta Polonskaya – Russian poet and doctor

May Sinclair – accompanied Dr Hector Munro’s Flying Ambulance Unit in 1914

Cicely Hamilton – British actress, writer and poet - Scottish Women’s Hospital administrator Royaumont Abbey

Vera Brittain – British poet/ writer – VAD England, France, Malta

Winifred Holtby – British poet/writer – VAD and ambulance driver France

May Wedderburn Cannan – worked in The Coffee Shop on Rouen Station

Edith Bagnold – British poet. Nurse then driver in France

Agatha Christie – British poet and writer. VAD

Millicent Sutherland – British poet - funded hospital in France

Edith Wharton – American poet – nursed in Paris

Ella Wheeler Wilcox – American poet who travelled the Atlantic to entertain the American troops on the Western Front

Henriette Hardenberg – German poet and nurse

Emine Semiye Onasy – Turkish writer and nurse

Alberta Vickridge – British poet – VAD

Joan Thompson – travelled to France with the Red Cross

Saturday 16 July 2016

More Female Poets of the First World War

Looking through Vivien Newman’s book “Tumult & Tears The Story of the Great War through the eyes and lives of its women poets” (see review on this weblog 5th July 2016), I have noticed quite a few names that are new to me.

When I have time, I hope to research these WW1 poets, find examples of their poems and add them to my list:




Beatrice CHASE

Florence van CLEEVE

Vivien FORD (1890 –



Mrs Hamilton FELLOWS

Ada Leonora HARRIS

Pamela HINKSON (Irish)

Paula HUDD





Viviane VERNE


Saturday 9 July 2016

Constance Sandifere (1870 - 1949) - British

We are waiting, surely waiting,
For that glorious day to come
When our boys receive the orders
"Shoulder rifles, march for Home!”
Gone for aye the hours of anguish,
Gone for aye those nights of pain,
Father, brother, son, or lover,
Safe in England once again!
Lift your heads then! Tune your voices!
Make the hills and dales to ring!
Can't you hear the tramp of thousands
As they chant the victor's hymn?
There are lads in khaki dying
Who have nobly played Their part,
There are eyes with tears a' falling
On the grave of some brave heart ;
There are records bright and glorious,
Writ in words of flaming fire,
Which, throughout the endless ages,
Often heard shall never tire.
Ely, Feb. 16th, 1917

I am very grateful to researcher and local historian Philip Dawes for the following information about Constance:

Constance Ellen Sandifer 1870 – 1949, was born and died in Eastbourne.  Her connection with Cambridge as per the above war poem came from her father James Frederick Sandifer and uncle Robert E. who were born in Cambridge, Holy Trinity parish.  Their father died when they were young and their mother Maria was a ‘Dressmaker/Pauper’ in 1851.  At some stage in the 1860’s the two young men moved to Eastbourne, started Grocery shops and married local girls.  They appear to have made good livings as each family had servants and shop assistants living in.  They had a lot of children between them and their unfortunate wives died young.  

Constance Ellen’s birth is listed as March quarter, 1870, Eastbourne.

We can find her aged 1 on the 1871 census with mother Eliza (nee Parks) and father James and an older sister aged 2, Ethel Maud. 

In 1881 her father is a widower but a lot more children have been born before Eliza died in 1878 – seven of them under 10 years old.  Constance is listed as ‘Nelly. C. Sandifer’. They are not poor: as they have 4 live-in servants and two shop assistants lodging. James’s mother Maria has moved from Cambridge to help: widow aged 70. 

By 1891 both parents are dead, as is old Maria.  Eliza’s mother Mary Parks has moved in - aged 73, basket maker, even though the 6 children still at home are by now mainly adults.  Ethel, 22 Constance 21, William 18, Clifford 17, Robert 16 and Hilda 14 are all at home.  They are probably somewhat poorer but still have one servant living in and two military men as boarders.  The girls don’t have jobs outside the home. 

I can’t find Constance in 1901 when she would have been 31. Eventually I found her on the 1911 census. She is in Clacton on Sea and is a milliner living-in with a draper’s family along with 6 other shop assistants. She is listed by the enumerator – or the draper – as Constance Ellen Sandifere.

As you know she appears in Eastbourne on the 1939 census as a milliner /retired. She is still single. 

Constance must have had music lessons as a girl and she was active in the early 1900’s writing songs and piano music, about half a dozen of which are still listed. 
We also get a glimpse of her on 21 Dec. 1907 when she sent a wreath for the funeral of the David Perry, Superintendent of the Eastbourne Fire Service. 

Her optimistic war poem/ song of Feb. 1917 was about the Cambridgeshire Regiment and their possible homecoming. It was published in the Wisbech Standard. She may have still had relatives in the area. There are no other newspaper mentions ofConstance as far as I can tell – nor are any other poems/ songs published.  I will keep looking. I you want the census results I can send them.

Constance seems to be rather elusive in the records.  Part of this is due to her ‘name changes’.  She appears as Constance and as Nelly (version of Ellen her other name).  Another problem is that either her publisher, the newspapers or she herself added an ‘e’ to the end of her name at some stage.

Information kindly supplied by Phil Dawes, researcher and local historian. If anyone has a photograph of Constance please get in touch.