Saturday 7 December 2019

Akiko Yosano (1878 – 1942) – Japanese Poet, writer, feminist, pacifist and social reformer

Japan was one of Britain's allies during the First World War

Akiko Yosano was the pen-name of the Japanese writer, poet, feminist, pacifist and social reformer Sho Ho, who was born on 7th December 1878 in  Sakai near Osaka to a wealthy family.   Her father realised his daughter's intelligence and allowed her to have a good education.   Akiko began writing poetry as a teenager.

When she was eleven years old Akiko was in charge of the family business making and selling Japanese sweets. 

In 1901, Akiko married Tekan Yosano, who edited the poetry magazine "Myojo" (Translation: "Bright Star") a publication in which  many of Akiko's poems were printed.   She also had her first volume of poems published in 1901.

Akiko wrote a tremendous number of poems and essays and worked tirelessly for the cause of women's education, helping to found a school for girls - the Bunka Gaguin.    She died at the age of 63 on 29th May 1942, leaving a legacy of tens of thousands of poems.  Her poem "Thou shalt not die" dedicated to her brother during the Russo-Japanese War, was set to music and became a protest song.   Akiko Yosano is buried on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Thou shalt not die
O my young brother, I cry for you
Don't you understand you must not die!
You who were born the last of all
Command a special store of parents' love
Would parents place a blade in children's hands
Teaching them to murder other men
Teaching them to kill and then to die?
Have you so learned and grown to twenty-four?

O my brother, you must not die!
Could it be the Emperor His Grace
Exposeth not to jeopardy of war
But urgeth men to spilling human blood
And dying in the way of wild beasts,
Calling such death the path to glory?
If His Grace possesseth noble heart
What must be the thoughts that linger there?

Members of the Japanese Red Cross Corps leaving for Britain c. 1916


Monday 4 November 2019

Jean McKishnie Blewett (1872 - 1934) - Canadian journalist, author and poet

Jean Blewett featured in the very first exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War held in November 2012 at The Wilfred Owen Story, Wirral, UK, which featured her poem “What Time the Morning Stars Arise” 

Jean Blewett was born Janet McKinshie in Scotia, Kent County, Ontario.  Her parents, John McKishnie and his wife Janet, nee MacIntyre were Scottish - from Argyllshire.   Educated in local schools and at St. Thomas Collegiate Institute, Jean began writing at an early age and published her first novel in 1890 and her first collection of poems in 1897. She also wrote under the pen-name Katherine Kent. Jean’s brother, Archie P. McKishnie, was also a well-known writer.

Jean married Bassett Blewett, who was from Cornwall. She joined the editorial staff of  “The Globe”, a Toronto newspaper and in 1898 she became editor of the newspaper’s Homemakers Department.   Jean also wrote for “Everywoman’s World” in Toronto.

In 1919, assisted by the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, she published a booklet titled Heart Stories to benefit war charities.  Jean also regularly lectured on topics such as temperance and suffragism.  She retired from journalism in 1925 and died in Chatham, Ontario on 19th August 1934.

“Canadian Poems of the Great War” Chosen and Edited by John W. Garvin (McClelland & Stewart Publishers, Toronto, 1918)

Mount Cavell
“Mount Cavell”

Look yonder where the Rose of Sunset leans
A Blessed Damosel on golden stair-
Whose lightest touch illumes, incaradines,
And kindles flames of splendour everywhere.

Mount Cavell but a little time ago
Seemed typical of majesty severe,
Aloof, far-off, with diadem of snow-
Lo, gone the grimness, and the air austere !

The Rose of Sunset in a shining mood
Has paused to touch him with her fingers warm,
To weave her crimson petals in a hood,
For his great head, with all her subtle charm.

For cloak she shakes from out her royal lap
Whole webs of vapour, soft, of silken mist,
The rarest colours ever dyed, mayhap,
Mauve pink, and Persian rose, and amethyst.

With blues of many shades, blues somber, gay,
Blending together in a dream of light,
The sun-thrilled blue of perfect summer day,
The star-kissed blue of perfect winter night.

That rarest blue, in midnight vision given
To such as vigil keep, for His dear sake,
Who see across the flowery meads of heaven
The shining pathway that the angels take.

Fair, fair, this cloak the Rose of Sunset weaves,
Ere the invading twilight dulls and blurrs,
Weaves out of golden mist and ruby leaves,
While all the glamour of the skies are hers.

Mount Cavell did we dare to call thee grim
When first we saw thee standing bald and bare,
Ere vet this glory clothed thee like a dream,
Kindled to lip a thousand beauties fair?

Nay, grandeur is thine own staunch and immoved
Thou standest forth a splendid monument
To her, the brave, the steadfast, the beloved
Who sleeps upon a foreign shore, content.

A monument the years will not efface
A speaking monument that will extoll
A woman s tenderness, and truth, and grace,
The strength and courage of a woman s soul.

The Rose of Sunset steals away to sleep,
And, following in her train of palest gold,
Are soft-veiled, fleecy clouds like flocks of sheep
That hurrying go to find some far-off fold.

Above Mount Cavell mark the shadows grey,
Shot through with one great opal tinted bar;
And just between the darkness and the day
Gleams down upon the hills one silver star.

Jean Blewett

Mount Edith Cavell is a mountain located in the Athabasca River and Astoria River valleys of Jasper National Park, and the most prominent peak entirely within Alberta, Canada. The mountain was named in 1916 in memory of British nurse Edith Cavell.

The Wilfred Owen Story and Study Centre is currently in The West Kirby Arts Centre, 29 Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby, Wirral, UK, CH48 4EL. Tel.:
07539 371925.   The WOS is the first permanent exhibition to commemorate the genius of the Peninsula’s most famous adopted son.

Saturday 2 November 2019

Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893 – 1978) - British writer and poet; WW1 munitions worker

Sylvia Nora Townsend Warner was born in Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, UK on 6th December 1893. Her parents were George Townsend Warner  and his wife Eleanor Mary, née Hudleston, who was known as Nora.  George was a house-master at Harrow School and was associated with the prestigious Harrow History Prize which was renamed the Townsend Warner History Prize in his honour, after his death in 1916.

Educated at home by her father, Sylvia worked in a munitions factory during the First World War.  She died on 1st May 1978, leaving a legacy of a large volume of literary works. 

Syvlia’s WW1 poetry collection was entitled “The Espalier: poems” (Chatto & Windus, London, 1925).

If you live near London, UK, you will be able to hear some of Sylvia’s war-time poems at an event organised by Boulevard Theatre and Live Canon Ensemble: War Poets, Sunday, 10th November 16h.30 at The New Boulevard Theatre, 6 Walker's Court, Soho, W1F 0BT, UK To book tickets please follow this link…/sunday-service-poetry-10-…/

This performance by the Live Canon ensemble showcases several centuries of war poetry. The programme features well-known poems from the First World War, including work by Sylvia Townsend Warner, May Herschel Clarke, Edith Sitwell, Helen Dircks, Eva Dobell. Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and work from other conflicts - the Crimea, Second World War, Vietnam, Iraq, Liberia and Afghanistan - and foregrounds some of the most extraordinary war poetry by women from every generation. Live Canon perform from memory – these are not readings – and this is a rare opportunity to hear this collection of poetry performed live.

To book tickets please follow this link
Sources: Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 328.

Photo from

Saturday 12 October 2019

Grace D. Vanamee (1867 – 1946) - American Suffragist, Teacher, Writer and Poet

Grace Davis was born on 15th September 1876 in North Adams, Massachusetts, United States. Her parents were George Davis and his wife Electra, nee Magoon.

Grace graduated from Drury High School, North Adams in 1894 then attended Bliss Business College in 1895 before going to Emerson College Oratory, Boston, in 1899, where she followed a post-graduate course in 1900.

Grace then became a platform reader and lecturer and taught in private schools from 1901-1907. She was a lecturer in city schools in New York, and Brooklyn Institute Arts and Sciences, 1907-1909.  In 1909, Grace married lawyer William Vanamee, a widower who died in 1914.

During the First World War, Grace was Assistant to the chairman of the American Poets’ Ambulance Committee and secretary of the Italian War Relief Committee of New York.

From 1915 Grace was connected with the American Academy Arts and Letters, becoming assistant to the president from 1921-1941 and assistant secretary and assistant treasurer of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1925-1940. She served as acting director of the Hall of Fame in 1920.

In 1920, Grace became Chairman of the Republican Women’s State Speaker’s Bureau and a member Women’s Republican State Committee.

Grace died on 10th December 1946.

Grace's poem "The Sequel - He kept his Rendezvous with Death" was first published in the magazine “The Art World” - January 1917, Volume 1, No. 4 – reproduced by kind permission of Matt Jacobsen, editor of the website

Here is a link to a report about the American Poets Ambulance Committee in WW1:

Friday 4 October 2019

Anna Jakobsen a Danish poet who wrote a poem about her son who was killed

With grateful thanks to the wonderful Pike Grey on Twitter who not only found this poem for me but also translated it from the original Danish. Another WW1 Mother's anguish ...

From Pike Grey 1914-1918 @PikeGrey1418
"My Boy" a short Danish wartime poem written by Anna Jakobsen, a mother of a fallen soldier from the Danish minority in Schelswig who were compelled to fight in the German army.
I've translated is as close to the original as I could.

#WW1 #WWI #FWW #GreatWar #History #MilitaryHistory #Poem #Poetry

Saturday 14 September 2019

Ella Dunnington Jefferson (1888 – 1934) - WW1 VAD and poet

Ella's Red Cross Record Card
It is always exciting to find a hitherto undiscovered poem – here is one, written by Ella Dunnington Jefferson during the First World War - with thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for this post and to Anne Houson of Clements Hall History Group for sending me the full poem.

Before World War One, the world famous York firm, T. E. Cooke, had been making scientific instruments and equipment for the military, including rangefinders and surveying equipment. They opened a new factory in Bishophill in York in 1915 and took on women to help with production.  Ella Dunning Jefferson was one of those women.
Ella Dunnington Jefferson (1888 – 1934) was born in York, Yorkshire, UK in May 1888.  Her parents were Mervyn Dunnington Jefferson, a former Army officer and Justice of the Peace, and his wife, Louisa Dunnington Jefferson, nee Barry.  Ella had two older sisters and a younger brother.

The family lived in Middlethorpe Hall, Middlethorpe, Yorkshire until 1911, when they moved to Thicket Priory, near Thorganby, which they owned. Their home had originally been a priory but the Dunnington Jefferson family demolished this in the 1840’s and built a brand new country house. Curiously, the family sold Thicket Priory in 1955 to the Carmelite sisters of Exmouth and it became a religious house once more. 
With thanks to the Red Cross WW1 website

Ella joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and worked as a nurse and orderly at Clifford St and Nunthorpe Hall Auxiliary Hospitals, before going to work at Cooke’s.

Records for T. E. Cooke which are now held at the Borthwick Institute, include the humorous “A Munition Dirge” that Ella Jefferson wrote about her experiences at Cooke’s. It paints a picture of an assortment of displaced ‘ladies’ who are only working at the firm ‘on suffrance’. Their foreman, Harrison who terrifies them, holds them in check. The Dirge includes the following line “There was Harrison our Overseer, Who caused us all to quake with fear” but ends on a patriotic note, however and Ella seems proud to be doing her bit towards World War One.

Photographs of the women at work at Cooke’s in 1916 showed that the work was clean enough not to require overalls – it looks as though most of the girls are wearing their own clothes with some, but not all of them wearing aprons. It is highly likely that some of the girls on the photograph are the ones mentioned in Ella’s Munition Dirge.

"A Munitions Dirge"

I was a nurse, a nurse was I,
Methought at Cooke’s I’ll have a try.

The rain poured down, the wind blew shrill, 
O’er Cookes-s’ss works at Bishophill.

I knocked upon the factory door, 
I stood upon the office floor.

The manager spoke unto me:
“Munitions worker you would be?”

Quoth I, “I am a V.A.D.
But if you’re kind I’ll work for thee.”

Quoth he, - “It is a stiffish job’”
You’ll have to come for 17/- Bob.

‘”Be here quite sharp at early dawn
And unto secrecy be sworn.”

“At Bishophill you’ll stay until 
You faint before the awful drill.”

They led me from the fated room
Into a dungeon full of gloom

I sat upon a wooden stool, 
I vowed I was an awful fool.

I painted reel, I painted drum
I cut my hand, I pierced my thumb.

I drove the nail, I turned the screw
I did whate’er there was to do.

But when I saw the ladies there, 
My heart leaped up, they were so fair.

Miss Tennant took me by the hand, 
“Oh welcome to Munitions Land.”

“I’ll give you buns, I’ll give you tea, 
And Chocolate Biscuits I’ll give thee”

And dear Miss Carr, She said to me:
“We’re only here on suffrance see” – 

Miss Blaylock works whate’er may hap, 
She swallowed strip, she swallowed flap

E D Jefferson

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Capel Boake – pen-name of Doris Boake Kerr (1889-1944) – Australian writer and poet

With thanks to Yvon Davis and to Dominic Sheridan for their help.

Dominic’s Australian Great War Poetry project is on and on Facebook

Doris was born on 29th August 1889 in Summer Hill, Sydney. She was the elder daughter of  Gregory Augustine Kerr, a civil servant, and his wife, Adelaide Eva, née Boake. Doris’s maternal grandfather, Barcroft Capel Boake (1838-1921), emigrated to Australia in the late 1850s. His son was the poet Barcroft Boake (1866 – 1892). By 1915 the family had settled at Caulfield, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

Although she attended a state school, Doris claimed that 'she was self-educated at the Prahran Public Library'. She left school and worked as a shop-assistant, before becoming a typist, then a librarian. Doris’s first story was published in the “Australasian” in January 1916.

Doris never married.  She was an active member of P.E.N. International and a foundating member of the Society of Australian Authors.   By the early 1940s, Doris was working as secretary to J. K. Moir, who was credit manager at Paynes Bon Marché Pty. Ltd., who was a supporter of Australian literature.

Doris died on 5th June 1944 at Caulfield and was cremated.

A collection of Doris's verse with a foreword by her friend Myra Morris was published in 1949 as “The Selected Poems of Capel Boake” and her two main novels were “Painted Clay” and “The Dark Thread”.

“Anzac Day” by Capel Boake

The Scarlet poppy burns again,
The tender grasses wave,
The bitter almond sheds her leaves
On many a nameless grave.
The earth has healed her wounds again
Where Turk and Christian met,
And stark against an alien sky
The cross of Christ is set.

From north and south and east and west,
With eager eyes aflame,
With heads erect and laughing lips
The young Crusaders came.
The waves still wash the rocky coast,
The evening shadows creep
Where through the dim, receding years
They tread the halls of sleep.

O sacred land, Gallipoli!
Home of our youthful dead;
How friendly is the springing grass
That shields each narrow bed!
The toiling peasant turns to pray,
Calling upon his God,
And little children laugh and play
Where once their footsteps trod.

Mourn not for them, nor wish them back;
Life cannot harm them now;
The kiss of death has touched each cheek
And pressed each icy brow.
Yet, on this day when first they died,
Turn back the troubled years;
Pause in the press of life awhile;
Give them again – our tears.

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served". Observed annually on 25th  April, Anzac Day was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in the Great War (1914–1918).

Founded in London in 1921 by Catherine Amy Dawson Scott to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere, PEN International is a worldwide association of writers.  The first president was John Galsworthy and early members included Joseph Conrad, Elizabeth Craig, George Bernard Shaw, and H. G. Wells.

PEN originally stood for "Poets, Essayists, Novelists", but now stands for "Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists, Novelists" and includes writers of any form of literature, such as journalists and historians.

Sources:  Australian Great War Poetry

Friday 16 August 2019

Poems written in response to John McCrae's "In Flanders Fields"

Following on from Heather Johnson's response to my post yesterday about Moina Belle Michael :, (Heather said:
"A Canadian pointed out to me once that Miss Michael's poem is remarkably similar (some lines identical, in fact) to that of R. W. Lillard's poem 'America's Answer', which was in circulation nigh on three months before Miss Michael penned hers."),

this morning I set off on a voyage of discovery and found several other poems in response to John McCrae's. I am now trying to find out more about the poets - if anyone can help please get in touch.

“We Shall Keep the Faith” by Moina Belle Michael (181869 – 1944) – published In “The Miracle Flower: The Story of The Flanders Field Poppy” by Moina Belle Michael and Leonard Roan (Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia, 1941)

Oh! You who sleep in Flanders' Fields
Sleep sweet - to rise anew;
We caught the torch you threw,
And holding high we kept
The faith with those who died.

We cherish, too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led.
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
But lends a lustre to the red
On the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders' fields.

And now the torch and Poppy red
Wear in honour of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught:
We've learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders' fields.

“America's Answer” by Robert W.illiamLillard (1859 – 1952) - first published in the New York Evening Post and included in "Prose and Poetry, Eighth Year" (The L. W. Singer Company, New York, 1929) Edited by Fannie L. Avery, Mary M. Van Arsdale, D. Emma Wilber

Rest ye in peace, ye Flanders dead
The fight that you so bravely led
We've taken up. And we will keep
True faith with you who lie asleep,
With each a cross to mark his bed,
And poppies blowing overhead,
When once his own life-blood ran red
So let your rest be sweet and deep
In Flanders Fields.

Fear not that ye have died for naught;
The torch ye threw to us we caught,
Ten million hands will hold it high,
And freedom's light shall never die!
We've learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders' fields.

“In Flanders Fields (An Answer)” by Charles Burleigh (C. B.) Galbreath (1858 – 1934) – American writer and poet, State Librarian of Ohio

In Flanders Field the cannon boom,
And fitful flashes light the gloom,
While up above; like eagles, fly
The fierce destroyers in the sky;
With stains, the earth wherein you lie,
Is redder than the poppy bloom,
In Flanders Field.

Sleep on, ye brave, the shrieking shell,
The quaking trench, the startled yell,
The fury of the battle hell,
Shall wake you not, for all is well.
Sleep peacefully, for all is well.
Your flaming torch aloft we bear,
With burning heart, an oath we swear
To keep the faith, to fight it through,
To crush the foe, or sleep with you,
In Flanders Field.

Galbreath’s WW1 collection was entitled “This crimson flower: In Flanders fields, an answer, and other verse” (Stoneman Press, Columbus, OH, 1919); ISBN 978-1-140-31899-6

“Reply to In Flanders Fields” by John Mitchell

Oh! sleep in peace where poppies grow;
The torch your falling hands let go
Was caught by us, again held high,
A beacon light in Flanders sky
That dims the stars to those below.
You are our dead, you held the foe,
And ere the poppies cease to blow,
We'll prove our faith in you who lie
In Flanders Fields.

Oh! rest in peace, we quickly go
To you who bravely died, and know
In other fields was heard the cry,
For freedom's cause, of you who lie,
So still asleep where poppies grow,
In Flanders Fields.

As in rumbling sound, to and fro,
The lightning flashes, sky aglow,
The mighty hosts appear, and high
Above the din of battle cry,
Scarce heard amidst the guns below,
Are fearless hearts who fight the foe,
And guard the place where poppies grow.
Oh! sleep in peace, all you who lie
In Flanders Fields.

And still the poppies gently blow,
Between the crosses, row on row.
The larks, still bravely soaring high,
Are singing now their lullaby
To you who sleep where poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

“In Canadian Fields” by Floyd Zurbrigg (? b. 1937 - )

In Flanders Fields the poppies grow
When I hear that famous poem I know
That our soldiers went to a far off shore
And gave their lives in an awful war
I’m aware of the hardships they endured
So our peace would be assured
But the poem that I cannot find
Tells the stories of those left behind
Of wives and sweethearts, kissed at the train
That never saw their men again
Of parents, brothers and sisters too
Who worried, because they never knew
If their soldier was alive or dead
Many tearful, heartfelt prayers were said
To the one’s at home, we owe a debt
They suffered too, let’s not forget
While in Flanders Fields the poppies grew
The folks at home were heroes too

In 1919, when people were still optimistic about the new future of the world, the Canadian poet Edna Jaques wrote 'In Flanders Now'.

“In Flanders Now” by Canadian poet Edna Jaques - Edna Parliament Jacques (1891–1979)

We have kept faith, ye Flanders' dead,
Sleep well beneath those poppies red,
That mark your place.
The torch your dying hands did throw,
We've held it high before the foe,
And answered bitter blow for blow,
In Flanders' fields.

And where your heroes' blood was spilled,
The guns are now forever stilled,
And silent grown.
There is no moaning of the slain,
There is no cry of tortured pain,
And blood will never flow again
In Flanders' fields.

Forever holy in our sight,
Shall be those crosses gleaming white,
That guard your sleep.
Rest you in peace, the task is done,
The fight you left us we have won.
And 'Peace on Earth' has just begun,
In Flanders now.

The poems by Galbreath and Lillard were included in “In Flanders' Field” (The Whittier School Press, Oak Park, Illinois, 1920)
OCLC Number: 1029560667

"The fugitive poems in this booklet are so expressive of courage, heroism, and unselfishness that they are here brought together for study and preservation by the pupils of the Oak Park schools."
Description - 13 pages ; 16 cm

The Appeal --
An Answer --
The Promise --
The Fulfillment --
The Soldier --
O, Little Cross in Flanders --
Afterwards --
Ye That Have Faith --
The Perfect Comrade --
But A Short Time to Live.

McCrae, John, -- 1872-1918.
Lillard, R. W.
Galbreath, C. B.
Frost, Meigs O., -- 1882-1950.
Brooke, Rupert, -- 1887-1915.
Hughes, Agnes Lockhart, -- 1866-1942.
Horne, Cyril Morton, -- 1885-1916.
Coulson, Leslie, -- 1889-1916.
Seeger, Alan, -- 1888-1916.

“Flanders Fields” by Elizabeth Daryush, nee Bridges (1887 – 1977)

Here the scanted daisy glows
Glorious as the carmined rose;
Here the hill-top's verdure mean
Fair is with unfading green;
Here, where sorrow still must tread,
All her graves are garlanded.

And still, O glad passer-by
Of the fields of agony,
Lower laughter's voice, and bare
Thy head in the valley where
Poppies bright and rustling wheat
Are a desert to love's feet.

Sources:Heather Johnson's website and…/nationaux-nouvelles-de…

Thursday 15 August 2019

Moina Belle Michael (1869 - 1944) – American poet and teacher - "The Poppy Lady"

Moina Belle Michael was born on 15th August 1869 in Good Hope, in Walton County, Georgia, America.. She was the eldest daughter and second of seven children born to John Marion Michael, a Confederate Veteran and Alice Sherwood.

In Germany when the First World War broke out in August 1914, Moina travelled to Rome, where she assisted around 12,000 US tourists to find a passage home across the Atlantic. She returned to the US on the RMS “Carpathia”, the ship that rescued the survivors of the RMS “Titanic” tragedy, and returned to teaching at Normal School in Athens, Georgia.

She was a professor at the University of Georgia when the U.S. entered the conflict in April 1917, took leave of absence from her work and volunteered to assist in the New York-based training headquarters for overseas YWCA workers.

The idea of using red Flanders poppies as a means of commemoration came from Moina after she read Canadian Medical Officer John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields".  Moina was determined not to 'break faith' and vowed always to wear Moina travelled to Paris, France for a conference of YMCA Secretaries of the Allied Nations in 1919.

After the War, Moina returned to the University of Georgia and taught a class of disabled servicemen. Realizing the need to provide financial and occupational support for these servicemen, she pursued the idea of selling silk poppies as a means of raising funds to assist disabled veterans. In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary, and, later that year, by Earl Haig's British Legion Appeal Fund, which later became known as The Royal British Legion.

Moina died on 10th May 1944.  During her lifetime, she received numerous awards. She retired from the University of Georgia in 1934, and published an autobiography in 1941, "The Miracle Flower: The Story of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy".

John McCrae
John McCrae was born in Canada in 1872.  He studied medicine and also served as an Artillery Officer in the Canadian Artillery during the Second Boer War.  He was among the first Canadian troops to go to the Western Front in 1914.  Incidentally, it was John McCrae who observed that the massive use of manure in the fields of northern France caused infections in wounds sustained during the fighting in that area.

John wrote the poem after the funeral of his friend Lt. Alexis Helmer, who was killed at the Second Battle of Ypres.  McCrae noticed some poppies were blooming in the cemetery. They appeared to be the only flower that flourished in the mud and mess.   McCrae apparently threw his poem away (as one does!) but it was rescued by a fellow officer who sent it to "Punch" Magazine in England.  They published "In Flanders Fields" on 8th December 1915.   Following his service as an Artillery Officer at the Front, McCrae was sent to work in a military hospital in Bologne - away from the shells. He fell ill on 27th January 1918 with Pneumonia, died the following day and was buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Wimereux, Pas de Calais, France.

British historian Lord Macaulay wrote in 1855 about the site of the Battle of Landen in the Province of Brabant. The battle took place in 1693, during the Nine Years War between the French and the English when William III was on the throne.  Landen is in Belgium and is approximately one hundred miles from Ypres.  The French lost 9,000 men and the English 19,000:
Mary Riter Hamilton painting "Poppies on the Somme", France 1919

 "The next summer the soil, fertilised by twenty thousand corpses, broke forth into millions of poppies. The traveller who, on the road from Saint Tron to Tirlemont, saw that vast sheet of rich scarlet spreading from Landen to Neerwinden, could hardly help fancying that the figurative prediction of the Hebrew Prophet was literally accomplished, that the earth was disclosing her blood, and refusing to cover the slain."

“We Shall Keep the Faith” by Moina Belle Michael (181869 – 1944) – published In “The Miracle Flower: The Story of The Flanders Field Poppy” by Moina Belle Michael and Leonard Roan (Dorrance & Co., Philadelphia, 1941)

Oh! You who sleep in Flanders' Fields 
Sleep sweet - to rise anew; 
We caught the torch you threw, 
And holding high we kept 
The faith with those who died. 

We cherish, too, the Poppy red 
That grows on fields where valor led. 
It seems to signal to the skies 
That blood of heroes never dies. 
But lends a lustre to the red 
On the flower that blooms above the dead 
In Flanders' fields. 

And now the torch and Poppy red 
Wear in honour of our dead. 
Fear not that ye have died for naught: 
We've learned the lesson that ye taught 
In Flanders' fields. 

1948 U.S. Commemorative Stamp

Memorial Marker in Georgia

Moina Michael 1948 U.S. commemorative stamp
U.S. Post Office Department

Thursday 8 August 2019

Sara Teasdale (1884 – 1933) - American poet.

Sara Teasdale 1910
Sara was born Sarah Trevor Teasdale in St. Louis, Missouri on 8th August 1884.

Sara's first poem was published in a local newspaper, in 1907 and her first collection of poems, "Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems", was published that year too.

On 19th December 1914, Sara married Ernst Filsinger, an admirer of her poetry, after which she used the name Sara Teasdale Filsinger.

Sara Teasdale's third poetry collection, “Rivers to the Sea”, was published in 1915.  In 1916 Sara and her husband went to live in New York City, where they lived in Upper West Side on Central Park West.  In 1918, Sara won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 poetry collection “Love Songs”.

On 29th January 1933, Sara died after taking an over dose of sleeping tablets.   She was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis.

Award-winning British composer Chris O'Hara recently set Sara’s poem “There Will Come Soft Rains” to music for his commemorative work "Scars upon their Hearts”.  Other poems included in Chris’s work are “The Dancers” by Edith Sitwell, “Perhaps” by Vera Brittain and “Rouen” by May Wedderburn Cannan.

“There will come Soft Rains” by Sara Teasdale

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Friday 5 July 2019

Anna Gordon Keown (1899–1957) - British author and poet

With thanks to Connie Ruzich for reminding me that I had not yet researched
Anna Gordon Keown who is on the List

Anna Gordon Keown was born on 8th December 1899, the daughter of Robert Keown, a London wool merchant, and his wife Sarah, nee Gordon. Anna had the following siblings: : Robert, born in 1894 and Elizabeth, born in 1895.

Anna and her sister were educated initally at home by a Swiss governess and then at Cheltenham Ladies College and in Dresden, Germany. In 1921, Anna married William H. Seymour but the marriage did not last and in 1927 the couple divorced. 

In 1943, Anna married writer and physician Dr Philip Gosse (1879–1959), son of the poet Sir Edmund Gosse. When Anna died, Philip presented a large collection of literature to the University of Leeds in her memory. This is known as the Keown Collection and is contained within the Brotherton Collection.

“Reported Missing” by Anna Gordon Keown was written during the First World War

My thought shall never be that you are dead:
Who laughed so lately in this quiet place.
The dear and deep-eyed humour of that face
Held something ever-living, in Death's stead.
Scornful I hear the flat things they have said
And all their piteous platitudes of pain.
I laugh! I laugh! -- For you will come again -
This heart would never beat if you were dead.
The world's adrowse in twilight hushfulness,
There's purple lilac in your little room,
And somewhere out beyond the evening gloom
Small boys are culling summer watercress.
Of these familiar things I have no dread
Being so very sure you are not dead.

“War Verse” New York Crowell 1918 Ed. Frank Foxcroft and 7th Edition

The introduction to Anna Gordon Keown’s Collected Poems, published in 1953, was written by Siegfried Sassoon, whose family were close friends of the Gosse family.


Find my Past and Free BMD

Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)  p. 187 “Collected Poems” by Anna Gordon Keown (Caravel, London, 1953) with an introduction by Siegfried Sassoon

Illustration:  Cover of one of Anna's books.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Ena Limebeer (1897 – 1984) – writer, artist and poet - schoolgirl poet of WW1

Ena was featured in the Exhibition of Poetry Written by School Pupils during the First World War, held at The Wilfred Owen Story in Birkenhead, Wirral, in March 2018

Ena Victoria Limebeer was born on 17th June 1897 in St. Mary Islington, Middlesex, in the north of London, UK. Her parents were Alfred J. Limebeer, an electrical mechanician, and his wife, Annie Emilia, nee Jefford.  Ena had two siblings – Alfred John, b. 1891, and Effie, b. 1895.

Educated at the North London Collegiate School in Camden, a school exclusively for girls, founded in 1850 by Frances Mary Buss, Suffragette and pioneer of advanced girls' education, Ena went on to study art and become a writer and artist.

On 9th June 1923, Ena married political scientist, originally from Bucharest, David Mitrany (1888 - 1975). The couple went to live in Kingston Blount, near Oxford. In 1929, Ena and her husband moved to America, where David had a visiting professorship at Harvard University and lectured at Yale University. In 1933, he became a permanent member of the newly established Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. In September 1939, Ena and David returned to Britain.

After their return from America, Ena and David lived at The Lower Farm in Kingston Blount and also had a flat in London in Grove End Road, London NW 8. David Mitrany died in July 1975 and, following the death of her husband, Ena lived in Westminster, London.

Ena had poems and short stories published in magazines such as “New Age”, “The New Statesman”, “The Nation” and “The Athenaeum”, where Leonard Woolf was the literary editor. A collection of Ena’s poems was published by the Hogarth Press in July 1924: "To a Proud Phantom" - hand-printed and hand-bound by the Woolfs.

Ena also became famous for her watercolour paintings and exhibited them in the UK and at the Paris Salon during the 1960s. She painted all her life and after the publication of her last novel, focused entirely on painting. Ena signed her pictures in block letters: either EB or ENA LIMEBEER.  She died in the winter of 1984 in Westminster.

 “A Hero” by E. Limebeer, Form VI, North London Collegiate School

Was he dead? Had I heard it aright?
No, for there was his image imprinted in gold on my mind.
Does he live? The prince of men’s sight
No, for I wander ‘neath cypress, his flower-decked tomb to find.

Then ‘tis true? They told me, I know:
But I find not his tomb in the shadows down in the cypress glade.
And softly they answer and low,
“Only a rough wooden cross stands quiv’ring ‘neath Ardennes’ grey shade.

“Not as other men died,
Fighting with failing breath.
None were close at his side,
To sweeten the pangs of his death.

“Straight he stood and his eyes
Saw more than his slayers knew.
He watched his life sun rise,
His death star fade from view.

“They laugh at him who died
To keep his captain’s word,
And deeply in his side
In scorn they plunge their sword.

“And now beneath the shade
Of Ardennes’ leaves he lies.
Mourn not! All stars must fade
When Suns in glory rise.”

(First published in North London Collegiate School Magazine, 1915) and reproduced here by kind permission of Jenny Bartlett, Librarian, North London Collegiate School, to whom grateful thanks are due for her help in finding other poems written by pupils during WW1.

Ena also features in Volume 2 of Female Poets of the First World War -

“To a Proud Phantom”. Hogarth Press, London, 1924

Exhibition of Poetry Written by Schoolchildren during WW1,
WOS, March 2018

Here is a link to a news report about the opening of the exhibition of Poetry written by Schoolchildren during WW1 at the WOS on 17th March 2018:

Additional information from:

Self Portrait by Ena from

Saturday 8 June 2019

Laurie Cruwys (1900 – 1983) – Wimbledon School WW1 Poet

The idea to research poetry written by schoolchilren during WW1 came to me after
reading "Peter Pan's XI" about J.M. Barrie's Recreational Cricket Team who played their last cricket match at Downe House School

Exhibition of Poetry Written by School Children during WW1

Born on 15th June 1900 in Clapham, Laurie was the only child of Lawrence Cruwys, a Metropolitain Police Court Usher, and his wife, Sarah Louise, nee Hicks.

Laura attended Wimbledon High School (then known as Wimbledon Hill School), which was one of the schools in the Girls’ Public Day School Trust.  The GPDST was set up in 1872 to offer reasonably priced secondary education to girls of all classes.  Laura was about twelve years old when she wrote this poem:

“Oh! Up and Fight!” by Laurie Crowys, Lower IV Class

Come lads, come boys, come men young and old,
Oh! Put down your axe,
And leave your plough,
Lay down your pen,
And take up the gun.
Oh! Up and fight for the dear Motherland
That has borne and bred and kept you.
Away to the War and conquer your foes,
For your home that is queen of the seas.
Oh! Up and fight for the dear Motherland
That is queen of the brave and the free.
And when ye have conquered your numerous foes
Come back to bonnie Old England,
And take up your axe,
And go back to your plough,
And do all that your duty bids you.

Laurie Cruwys

By kind permission of Kelly Jones, Archivist, Wimbledon High School

Sunday 2 June 2019

Katharine Tynan (23 January 1859 – 2 April 1931) – Irish writer and poet

"Windy Corner in the Battle of Jutland",  Charles Edward Dixon
Remembering all those who lost their lives in the Battle of Jutland, a sea battle of the First World War that took place on 31st May – 1st June 1916, here is a poem by Katharine Tynan entitled “After Jutland” from George Herbert Clarke, Editor (1873–1953),  “A Treasury of War Poetry” (1917), p. 327

The City of God is late become a seaport town
For the clean and bronzed sailors walking up and down
And the bearded Commanders, the Captains so brave,
Bringing there the taste of the sea from the salt sea wave.

There are boys in the City's streets make holiday
And all around are playing-fields and the boys at play;
They dive in clear waters, climb many a high tree,
They look out as they used to do for a ship at sea.

The sailor keeps a clean soul on the seas untrod;
There is room in the great spaces for the Vision of God
Walking on the waters, bidding him not fear;
He has the very cleanest eyes a man can wear.

There's salt wind in Heaven and the salt sea-spray,
And the little midshipmen boys are shouting at their play,
There's a soft sound of waters lapping on the shore,
The sailor he is home from sea to go back no more.

Katharine Tynan (1859 – 1931) – Irish writer and poet

Katharine was born on 23rd January 1859 into a large farming family in Clondalkin, County Dublin, and educated at St. Catherine's, a convent school in Drogheda. Her first poetry was published in 1878. She met and became friendly with the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1886.

After her marriage in 1898 to writer and barrister Henry Albert Hinkson (1865–1919), Katharine  usually wrote using the name Katharine Tynan Hinkson.. Her daughter, Pamela m. Hinkson (1900–1982), also became a writer.

Katharine was a close associate of William Butler Yeats and corresponded with the poet Francis Ledwidge.

Katharine Tynan Hinkson died on 2nd April 1931 in Wimbledon, London.

Saturday 1 June 2019

"Many such as She - Victorian AustralianWomen Poets of World War One" by Michael Sharkey

"Many such as She - Victorian Australian Women Poets of World War One" is much more than just another WW1 poetry anthology. 

Michael Sharkey goes into a great deal of detail about all the poets featured who were from the Australian State of Victoria.  In addition to biographical details and photographs, Michael has also included several poems by each of the women poets featured.

"Many such as She - Victorian AustralianWomen Poets of World War One", Editedf by Michael Sharkey - published by Walleah Press, Tasmania, Australia in 2018.

I will have to check my List of Female Poets to make sure they are all included.

Friday 31 May 2019

Nellie Letitia McClung (1873 – 1951) – Canadian writer, poet, suffragette and politician

With grateful thanks to Liz Tobin for suggesting I research Nellie McClung and for sending me the link to Nellie’s book

Helen Letitia Mooney was born on 20th October 1873 in Chatsworth, Ontario, Canada, the youngest daughter of John Mooney, an Irish immigrant farmer and his Scottish-born wife, Letitia, nee McCurdy. Nellie’s siblings were Will, George, Elizabeth, Jack and Hannah.

Her father's farm failed and the family moved to Manitoba in 1880. She received six years of formal education and did not learn to read until she was nine years old.  Nellie later moved with her family to a homestead in the Souris Valley of Manitoba.

Between 1904 and 1915, Nellie McClung, her husband Robert McClung, a pharmacist, and their five children - four sons and a daughter - lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba where, from 1911 until 1915, McClung fought for women's suffrage.

In both the 1914 and 1915 Manitoba provincial elections, Nellie campaigned for the Liberal party on the issue of the vote for women. She helped organize the Women's Political Equality League. A public speaker known for her sense of humour, Nellie played a leading role in the successful Liberal campaign in 1914.  However, when Manitoba became the first Province in Canada to grant women the vote on 28 January 1916, Nellie was living in Edmonton, Alberta.

Nellie founded the Winnipeg Political Equality League and the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada and the Women's Institute of Edmonton, of which she was the first President. She was active in the Canadian Authors' Association, the Canadian Women's Press Club, the Methodist Church of Canada, the Calgary Women's Literary Club.

Nellie was active in many organizations. She was one of ‘The Famous Five’ (also called The Valiant Five), with Irene Parlby, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Emily Murphy and Louise McKinney. In 1927, the five put forward a petition to clarify the term "Persons" in Section 24 of the British North America Act 1867. This section had served to exclude women from political office. The petition was successful, clearing the way for women to enter politics in Canada.

Nellie died on 1st September 1951, but her legacy lives on.

Nellie wrote 16 books. Her first, “Sowing Seeds in Danny”, was published in 1908, and became the best seller of the year in Canada, eventually running into 17 editions.  Her other works include "The Second Chance,"
  "The Black Creek Stopping House," and "In Times like These"

Two of Nellie’s poems – from “The Next of Kin - Those who Wait and Wonder” by Nellie L. McClung, (Thomas Allen, Toronto, 1917), which is available as a download on Gutenberg: this …


  Sing a song of the Next of Kin,
    A weary, wishful, waiting rhyme,
  That has no tune and has no time,
    But just a way of wearing in!

  Sing a song of those who weep
    While slow the weary night hours go;
  Wondering if God willed it so,
    That human life should be so cheap!

  Sing a song of those who wait,
    Wondering what the post will bring;
  Saddened when he slights the gate,
    Trembling at his ring,--

  The day the British mail comes in
  Is a day of thrills for the Next of Kin.



  O Thou, who once Thine own Son gave
    To save the world from sin,
  Draw near in pity now we crave
    To all the Next of Kin.
  To Thee we make our humble prayer
  To save us from despair!

  Send sleep to all the hearts that wake;
    Send tears into the eyes that burn;
  Steady the trembling hands that shake;
    Comfort all hearts that mourn.
  But most of all, dear Lord, we pray
  For strength to see us through this day.

  As in the wilderness of old,
    When Thou Thy children safely led,
  They gathered, as we have been told,
    One day's supply of heavenly bread,
  And if they gathered more than that,
  At evening it was stale and flat,--

  So, Lord, may this our faith increase--
    To leave, untouched, to-morrow's load,
  To take of grace a one-day lease
    Upon life's winding road.
  Though round the bend we may not see,
  Still let us travel hopefully!

  Or, if our faith is still so small--
    Our hearts so void of heavenly grace,
  That we may still affrighted be
    In passing some dark place--
  Then in Thy mercy let us run
    Blindfolded in the race.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Alice Gore-Jones (1887-1961) – Australian Poet

Alice was born in Toowong, near Brisbane, Australia on 29th May 1887. She was educated in Queensland and New South Wales and began writing and publishing poetry at an early age. 

Alice worked for many years as a journalist on the social pages of Brisbane newspapers, most notably the  “Telegraph”, now no longer published.

Alice died in 1961.

“Spring, 1916” by Alice Gore-Jones

The purple jacaranda bells are fluttering in the air;
The mango trees are budding, there is sunshine everywhere.
By silver creeks the willows droop their long green shining hair.
The peewee sends its piping call from tree-tops far and high;
A limpid stretch of azure is the pale unruffled sky;
While an ancient joy is stirring that will never never die.
Though the world be rocked with anguish till its outer portals ring,
You cannot rob existence of this strange and subtle thing,
When the sap in man and nature hears the hoyden call of Spring.
When the sap in man and nature feels a swift and sudden stir,
And the pipes of Spring are pulsing through the perfume-laden air,
Ah! the pity of youth's pageant that the young dead may not share.

From Alice Gore-Jones’ WW1 collection “Troop Trains”( Hassell, Adelaide, 1917).

“The Link” a Circular Letter published weekly during WW1, linking Queenslanders at Home and at the Front, had this to say about Alice’s collection in their issue Vol. I.— No. 15, September 27th 1917.


Some of you at home have already purchased
' Troop Trains" and other verses, by Alice
Gore-Jones, which came just too late for notice
last week. I hope lots of them will be posted
to you lads for Christmas, I would like to quote
some and started with 'that intention, but "The
Link" has to be small to go as a letter and
there are so many I'm sure you would like.


Thursday 23 May 2019

Mary Gabrielle Collins (1874 - 1945) - British poet

Mary Gabrielle Collins was born on 31st August 1874 in Penderyn, near Aberdare, Wales, the eldest of eight children born to Henry Ellis, a banker, and his wife, Mary Collins, nee Akerman.  Mary had the following siblings:  Kate, Gwendoline, Henry, William, John, James and Isabel. The children were educated at  home by a governess and the family had a German and a French maid servant.

By 1901, Mary had moved with her mother to London and was living at 67, Wiltshire Road, Brixton. By 1911, she was living in Temple Fortune, Golders Green. She was a writer and journalist and acting editor of a religious publication.   Mary became a minister in the the Congregational Church and was based at the North Bow Congregational Church. Mary died in 1945 and was cremated at Golders Green Cemetery, London.

Mary Gabrielle Collins’ WW1 poetry collection was entitled “Branches unto the Sea”. It was published by Erskine Macdonald, London in 1916.

I very rarely comment on the poems featured. I don’t think it is fair unless one is able to discuss the poem with the writer.  However, it is interesting that Mary’s most famous poem “Women at Munition Making” is heavily criticised these days but, as I see it, Mary is simply ‘telling it like it is’.  The First World War was a terrible shock to the whole world - roles were reversed and every man, woman and child did their bit.

“Women at Munition Making”

Their hands should minister unto the flame of life,
Their fingers guide
The rosy teat, swelling with milk,
To the eager mouth of the suckling babe
Or smooth with tenderness,
Softly and soothingly,
The heated brow of the ailing child.
Or stray among the curls
Of the boy or girl, thrilling to mother love.
But now,
Their hands, their fingers
Are coarsened in munition factories.
Their thoughts, which should fly
Like bees among the sweetest mind flowers
Gaining nourishment for the thoughts to be,
Are bruised against the law,
‘Kill, kill’.
They must take part in defacing and destroying the natural body
Which, certainly during this dispensation
Is the shrine of the spirit.
O God!
Throughout the ages we have seen,
Again and again
Men by Thee created
Cancelling each other.
And we have marvelled at the seeming annihilation
Of Thy work.
But this goes further,
Taints the fountain head,
Mounts like a poison to the Creator’s very heart.
O God!
Must It anew be sacrificed on earth?

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

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Eva Gore Booth (poet) and Con Markievicz (artist) – Irish sisters

I couldn not write about Eva without mentioning her elder sister, Constance.

 “...two girls in silk kimonos both beautiful, one a gazelle” W. B. Yeats

Eva Gore-Booth (1870 - 1926) - Irish

Eva and her sister Constance were described as being 'flamboyant' and 'reactionary'.  It sounds as though they were strong, independent women.  They were both passionate supporters of the growing feminist movement at that time and created a publication called "Urania", which discussed questions of gender and sexuality.  They were also actively involved in the political scene in Ireland.  The sisters died within a year of each other,.

Eva Selina Laura Gore-Booth was born on 22nd May 1870 in County Sligo, Ireland, the daughter of Henry Gore-Booth, a wealthy Anglo-Irish landowner.

As was usual for wealthy families in those days, Eva was educated at home by a governess who had studied at Cambridge and taught Eva music, drawing, poetry, Greek, Latin and Italian.  Shy, sensitive and not very strong, Eva began writing poetry at an early age.  Eva met the poet W.B. Yeats when he stayed at her parents’ home in 1894, and they discussed each other’s poetry.

In 1895, Eva became ill with TB and was sent to Italy to recuperate in 1896.   While there Eva met Esther Roper while staying at the home of George MacDonald, a Scottish writer.   Esther was the daughter of a factory worker who later became a missionary and was already involved in the women’s suffrage movement in Manchester, under the patronage of Millicent Fawcett.  Appalled at the treatment of factory workers, especially when compared to her own background, Eva decided that she had to do something positive.

 On her return to Ireland, Eva started a branch of the Irish Women’s Suffrage and Local Government Association in Sligo.  She then moved to Manchester to share a home with Esther Roper, who remained Eva’s companion until her death.  They became joint secretaries of the Women’s Textile and Other Workers Representation Committee and started a journal called “Urania”, which was a vehicle for their pioneering ideas.  They were both very active in the emerging women’s movement, becoming involved in politics and campaigning for votes for women, as well as defending the rights of barmaids, flower sellers, women who worked in coal mines and circus performers.

 In 1916, Eva campaigned for the release of her sister, Constance, who had been sentenced to death for her part in the 1916 Rising – The Easter Rebellion – the campaign during Easter Week 1916 to establish an independent Ireland and end British rule.

 After the War, Eva and Esther joined the Committee for the Abolition of Capital Punishment and worked tirelessly in the cause of prison reform.  As time went by, Eva’s health deteriorated but she continued to write poetry as well as plays.  She died in Hampstead, London on 30th June 1926.

 Eva’s poetry was highly praised by Yeats.  After Eva’s death, Esther collected her poems together, writing a biographical introduction to go with them.

Portrait of Eva painted by her sister, Constance

Sources:  Lewis, Gifford.- “Booth, Eva Selina Gore- (1870 – 1926). (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2014)

Tiernan, Sonja.- “Eva Gore-Booth:  An Image of Such Politics” (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2012)

Va’s WW1 poetry collections were:  “Broken Glory” (Maunsel, Dublin, 1918)  and “Poems” (Longmans, Green, London, 1929).   She also had poems included in three WW1 poetry anthologies. Other collections by Eva were:  “The Perilous Light” , “Poems”, “The One and the Many”,

“In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz”
By William Butler Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) - Irish poet

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
But a raving autumn shears
Blossom from the summer's wreath;
The older is condemned to death,
Pardoned, drags out lonely years
Conspiring among the ignorant.
I know not what the younger dreams –
Some vague Utopia – and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
Pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.

Dear shadows, now you know it all,
All the folly of a fight
With a common wrong or right.
The innocent and the beautiful
Have no enemy but time;
Arise and bid me strike a match
And strike another till time catch;
Should the conflagration climb,
Run till all the sages know.
We the great gazebo built,
They convicted us of guilt;
Bid me strike a match and blow.

W. B. Yeats, "In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markievicz" from “The Winding Stair and Other Poems” (Kessinger Publishing, 1933)

Constance Markievicz (1868 – 1927) – Irish artist

Constance Georgine Gore-Booth was born at Buckingham Gate, in London on 4th February 1868, the elder daughter of Sir Henry Gore-Booth, 5th Baronet, an explorer and wealthy Anglo-Irish landowner, and Georgina, Lady Gore-Booth, nee Hill.

The Gore-Booths lived on a large estate in the north of County Sligo in a manor house called “Lissadell House”. During the potato famine of 1879 –1980, Sir Henry provided free food for his tenants. This instilled in both Constance and her younger sister,  Eva, concern for those less fortunate than themselves. The Gore-Booth children were educated at home, as was the custom at that time and Constance soon became an accomplished artist.

In 1886, Constance undertook a grand tour of the Continent of Europe and was presented to Queen Victoria at court in London. She decided to study art seriously and in 1892 she enrolled in the Slade School of Art in London. The move began Constance’s involvement in the women’s movement and she joined The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. She then went to live in Paris, where she met Count Casimir Markiewicz, who had given up his law studies to train as an artist in Paris. Count Markiewicz was from a wealthy family of Polish land-owners in Zywotowka, in what is now The Ukraine. The Count’s wife died in 1899 and he married Constance in London on 29th September 1900. The couple had a daughter – Maeve, born on 13th November 1901 in Ireland – who was brought up by her maternal grandparents at “Lissadell”.

Constance took on the role of mother to her step-son Nicolas. The Markiewicz family moved to Dublin where Constance gained a reputation as a painter and the couple, moving among the literary and artistic people of Dublin, founded the United Artists Club, designed to bring like-minded people together. They attended the theatre, painted and held tea parties. During this period of her life, Constance became aware of the struggle for independence and became politically active, joining Sinn Fèin and Inghinidhe nah Éireann (Daughters of Ireland) and working among the poor.  In 1913, Count Markiewicz moved back to his Polish home, though the couple remained in close contact.

When her sister asked for her help during a campaign in Manchester, Constance went to her aid, driving a carriage drawn by four white horses to highlight the cause of women’s suffrage. In 1909, Constance founded Fianna Eireann, a para-military Scouts group for teenage boys, which led to the creation of The Irish Volunteers in 1913. Constance continued to take an active part in political demonstrations and in 1916, she took part in the Easter Rising. She was court-martialled and
sentenced to death, whereupon her sister, Eva, campaigned actively for her sister’s release. Constance’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and she was sent to Aylesbury Prison in England.

In 1917, following an amnesty, Constance was released from prison but she was imprisoned again in 1918 due to her campaign against conscription.

In the General Election of 1918, Constance was elected for the Constituency of Dublin St. Patrick’s, thus becoming the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons. However, she did not take her seat in the British Parliament. Instead, Constance was elected to the newly-created Dáil, becoming the first Irish female Cabinet Minister. She continued to campaign and was again imprisoned.

In the elections of June 1927, Constance was re-elected as candidate for the new Fianna Fáil Party but died on 15th July 1927 before taking up her seat. Her husband, Count Markiewicz, their daughter Maeve and her step-son Nicolas were at her side.

Constance is buried at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Photograph of Constance and Casimir on their wedding day.

Paseta, S. “Markievicz (nee Gore-Booth), Constance Georgine, Countesse Markievicz in the Polish nobility (1868 – 1927). (Oxford University Press, 2004)

Wednesday 15 May 2019

May Herschel Clarke (1894 – 1955) - British poet and journalist

May Herschel-Clarke is one of the poets on my List of Female Poets of the First World War.  Although May was included in Catherine W. Reilly’s WW1 anthology “Scars upon my Heart”, unlike m ost of the other poets included, there were no biographical details for May, so Catherine cannot have discovered anything about her either.

I put out a query to my Twitter friends and JosieHolford @JosieHolford replied at once and, thanks to her brilliant detective work, I was able to find out a little more about May.  Josie has her own amazing website –

May was born in Woolwich, London, UK on 19th March 1894. She was registered as ‘May Herschel, last name Clarke’.  Her parents were Charles Frederick Clarke, a surgeon, and his wife Minnie Emma Clarke, nee Cox, who were married in Woolwich in 1892.  An extensive search has not revealed why May was given the name Herschel.

I have not been able to find out where May was educated but we know from the 1939 Census that she became a journalist.   From 1913 – 1915, May’s articles about the suffragettes were published in the daily newspaper “The Herald”.  “The Herald” was a national newspaper, published in London from 1912 – 1964. 

As May was 20 years old when war broke out in 1914, it seems likely that she would have volunteered for some kind of war work. However, I could not find her name on the British Red Cross website for those who joined the WW1 Voluntary Aid Detachments. 

May’s poem “The Debt” was published in “Votes for Women” on Friday, 22nd January 1915

May’s most famous WW1 poem is undoubtedly “The Mother”, which she wrote after reading Rupert Brooke's poem “The Soldier”. “The Mother” (see my post of 13th May 2019) was first published in the journal “T.P.s Weekly”, the editors of which were: November 1902 - June 1914: T. P. O'Connor; July 1914 - April 1916: Holbrook Jackson.

However, May wrote a great many other poems, for instance

“Nothing to Report”

One minute we was laughin', me an' Ted,
The next, he lays beside me grinnin' - dead.
‘There's nothin' to report,' the papers said.

May died in Woolwich in 1955.

May’s WW1 poetry collection “Behind the Firing Line, and Other Poems of the War” was published in 1917 by Erskine Macdonald, London.

Here is May’s poem in appreciation of Alma Taylor “England’s answer to American film-star Mary Pickford” was published in the magazine “Pictures and the Picturegoer”.

From “Alma”

Not yours the air of high romance,
The flashing eye, the burning glance,
The haughty look of cold distain,
The pass’nate mouth and raven tress –
But rather the shy comeliness
Of Springtime in an English lane.

In “British Stars and Stardom: From Alma Taylor to Sean Connery”, Edited by Bruce Babington (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2001)

Alma Louise Taylor (1895 – 1974) - British film-star

Alma Taylor was born in London on 3rd January 1895. She made her first screen appearance as a child actor in the 1907 film “His Daughter's Voice” and went on to appear in more than 150 film roles. Alma also acted in a number of larger-budget films such as “Shadow of Egypt”, which was shot on location in Egypt in 1924. Alma was one of the most important British filmstars of the 1910s and early 1920s. In 1915, she was voted the most popular British performer by readers of “Pictures and the Picturegoers”, beating Charlie Chaplin into second place.

After 1932, Alma acted very occasionally, with roles in “Lilacs in the Spring”, “Blue Murder at St Trinian's”, and “A Night to Remember” during the 1950s. Alma died in London on 23rd January 1974, at the age of 79. 

Photograph of Alma taken for the Cecil Hepworth Film Company.


Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)
Catherine W. Reily “Scars upon my Heart” (Virago Press, London, 2008)
Find my Past
Free BMD
The British Newspaper Archive

Monday 13 May 2019

May Herschel-Clarke (1894 – 1955) - British poet

I have been unable to find biographical details for May.  If you can help, please get in touch.

May Herschel-Clarke is one of the female poets on my List.  Her poem “The Mother”, written after reading Rupert Brooke's sonnet “The Soldier”, was published in the journal “T.P.s Weekly”, the editors of which were:  Nov. 1902-June 1914, T. P. O'Connor. July 1914 - April 1916, Holbrook Jackson.

“The Mother”

If you should die, think only this of me
In that still quietness where is space for thought,
Where parting, loss and bloodshed shall not be,
And men may rest themselves and dream of nought:
That in some place a mystic mile away
One whom you loved has drained the bitter cup
Till there is nought to drink; has faced the day
Once more, and now, has raised the standard up.

And think, my son, with eyes grown clear and dry
She lives as though for ever in your sight,
Loving the things you loved, with heart aglow
For country, honour, truth, traditions high,
—Proud that you paid their price. (And if some night
Her heart should break—well, lad, you will not know.

May Herchel-Clarke

May’s WW1 poetry collection “Behind the Firing Line, and Other Poems of the War” was published in 1917 by Erskine Macdonald, London.


Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 167.

Monday 6 May 2019

Margaret Postgate Cole (1893 – 1980) - British politician, writer and poet

Dame Margaret Isabel Cole, DBE

Margaret Isaabel Cole was born in Cambridge on 6th May 1893.  Margaret’s parents were John Percival Postgate, a university lecturer, and his wife, Edith Postgate, née Allen. The family lived in Stapleford, Chesterton and Margaret had the following siblings:  Raymond, b. 1897 and Percival, b. 1900.

Margaret was educated at Roedean School and Girton College, Cambridge.  Cambridge University did not permit women to graduate formally with degrees until 1947, however, when she left university, Margaret became a classics teacher at St Paul's Girls' School.

During the First World War, Raymond Postgate applied for exemption from military service, on the grounds that he was a conscientious objector. His application was turned down and he was sent to prison.  Margaret’s support for her brother led to a belief in pacifism and she began a campaign against conscription, during which she met George Douglas Howard Cole (1889 – 1959), who was Head of the Research Department of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, and adviser to the Trades Unions on war-time economic problems.   They were married in August 1918.  George was also a poet.

The Coles worked together for the Fabian Society before moving to Oxford in 1924, where they both taught and wrote.

In the early 1930s, Margaret abandoned her pacifism in reaction to the suppression of socialist movements by the governments in Germany and Austria and to the events of the Spanish Civil War.

Margaret wrote several books including a biography of her husband. Margaret's brother Raymond became a labour historian, journalist and novelist. Margaret and her husband collaborated to write several mystery novels.

Harold Wilson awarded Margaret an Order of the ritish Empire (OBE) in 1965 and she became a Dame of the British Empire in 1970.

Margaret died on 7th May 1980.

Margaret Postgate Cole’s WW1 poetry collection “Poems” was published by Allen and Unwin, London in 1918.

She also had a poem included in “An Anthology of War Poems “ compiled by Frederick Brereton (pen name of Frederick Thomson Smith), which was published by Collins, London in 1930.

Margaret and her husband also collaborated on a WW1 collection of poems – “The Bolo Book” (Labour Publishing Company, Allen & Unwin, 1921)

“The Veteran”

We came upon him sitting in the sun
Blinded by war, and left. And past the fence
There came young soldiers from the Hand and Flower,
Asking advice of his experience.
And he said this, and that, and told them tales,
And all the nightmares of each empty head
Blew into air; then, hearing us beside,
"Poor chaps, how'd they know what it's like?" he said.
And we stood there, and watched him as he sat,
Turning his sockets where they went away,
Until it came to one of us to ask "And you're-how old?"
"Nineteen, the third of May."

Published in “Poetry” Magazine, August 1918

“The Falling Leaves”  November 1915

Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.

From “Poems” (Allen and Unwin, London 1918).

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