Monday 12 June 2017

Catherine Wells (1872 - 1927) - British

If you follow my weblogs you will know that I quite often receive information from people regarding new poets, etc. to research.  I am very grateful for such help with this project.  Today I had an e-mail from Henry Gott of Blackwells Rare Books in Oxford.

Henry said: “have just been cataloguing 'The Book of Catherine Wells', a collection of stories and poems by the wife of H.G. Wells; it includes a trio of war poems - 'Spring 1915', 'June 1916', and 'Red Cross Workroom; 1917'. These were new to me - it doesn't mention where they were first published, if indeed they were published prior to this volume.”

Catherine Wells (1872 – 1927) was the second wife of the writer Herbert George (H.G.) Wells (1866 – 1946).

Catherine was born Amy Catherine Robbins in Islington on 8th July 1872.   Her parents were Frederick and Maria Catherine Robbins.   Catherine, who was known as Jane, was a student of H.G. Wells.  They were married in St. Pancras, London in 1895.
After Catherine’s death in 1927, Wells had her poetry and short story collection published under the title “The Book of Catherine Wells” published by Chatto & Windus in 1928.

Catherine's poem "Red Cross Workroom; 1917" tells us about her contribution to the war effort:

Daily here my body sits, My fingers tearing bandage strips,
My drilled eyes watch the pattern fits,
My agile scissor cuts and snips,
But truant Brain leaps out at play
And flies to some pellucid day
And suddenly I seem to hear
A sea maid singing at my ear
And straight am with her on a strand
Of cockle shells and pearly sand.
Where rainbows crown the leaping surf
And green weed wraps the rocks with turf.
We wreathe her yellow hair with weed
And play with coriander seed
And coral beads and horns of pearl -
The while that here my body sits,
My fingers tearing bandage strips.

(From "The Book of Catherine Wells" - short stories and poems - published in 1928 after Catherine's death by Chatto and Windus, London, 1928, page 201).

Sunday 11 June 2017

Ianthe Bridgman JERROLD (1898 - 1977) - British

Ianthe was born in Kensington, London, UK in 1898.  Her parents were Walter Copeland Jarrold, a journalist and author, and his wife Clara Armstrong Jarrold, nee Bridgman, who was also a journalist and author.  Ianthe was one of six daughters – Daphne, b. 1899, Phyllis, b. 1899, Hebe, b. 1901, Althea, b/ 1902 and Florence, b. 1913.   Walter’s brother Cyril was a teacher of blind people.

In 1901, the family are listed as living in Kingston in Surrey.
Ianthe married George J. Menges in Paddington in 1927.   She was a very successful writer and travelled to America several times between 1947 and 1958.   She died in Kensington in 1977.

Ianthe had her first volume of poetry published when she was a schoolgirl during the First World War, under the title "The Road of Life and Other Poems" (Erskine Macdonald, London 1915) in the series Little Books of Georgian Verse.

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

Thursday 8 June 2017

Nora C. Hotblack (1866 - 1949) - British

I was looking through Reilly's Bibliography of First World War English poetry when I noticed an entry HOTBLACK N. and had to find out more.
Nora Constance Hotblack was born Nora Constance Candler in Lee, Kent, UK in 1866.  She married Herbert Arthur Hotblack (1858 - 1899) in Lewisham, Kent in June 1885.
On the 1901 Census, Nora is listed as a Widow and Owner of a Brewery - Kidd and Hotblack in Brighton. Also listed are Norah N. Hotblack, b. 1890 and Frank A. Hotblack, b. 1896. A cousin of Nora - Mary E. Candler - was also living in the house in Cuckfield, Sussex. 
Nora wrote a volume of poems entitled "Stray thoughts", which was originally called "A few poems" and published by Stockwell in 1924.   Frank A. Hotblack, who served in the British Army during WW1, edited his mother's volume of poems.  Reilly mentioned that no copies of the first and second editions of the collection were traced.
If anyone has any further information please get in touch as I should like to add Nora to my List of Female Poets of the First World War. 
Sources: Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 174.  Find my Past and Free BMD.