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

Marian Allen (1892 – 1953) - British artist, writer and poet

Eleanor Marian Dundas Allen was born on 18th January 1892 at Toxteth Park (now St Scholastica's School), Glebe in Sydney, Australia.  Her parents were George Boyce Allen, a barrister, and his wife, Isabella Allen, nee Dundas, a cousin of Admiral Fairfax of the Royal Navy, Commander of the Australian Squadron.

By 1908 Marian and her family were living in Woodstock Road, Oxford, UK.  In around 1913 – 1914, Marian first met Arthur Tylston Greg, to whom she became engaged to be married and to whom her poetry collection is dedicated.

Marian's brother, George Dundas Allen, went to study law at New College, Oxford. One of his fellow students was called Arthur Tylston Greg and it seems likely that he and Marian first met when Arthur Greg visited his friend.

When the First World War started in August 1914, Arthur and Dundas (as Marian Allen's brother was known) abandoned their studies and joined the army.

Arthur, who was commissioned into the 3rd Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, was involved in the battles that took place around the Hill 60 in Belgium and in May 1915, he was badly wounded. By 1916, Dundas had joined the Royal Flying Corps and was awarded the Military Cross.  Arthur also joined the Royal Flying Corps where, as Captain Greg, he trained to fly D.H.4 bombers.

On Wednesday, 4th April 1917, Marian and Arthur said farewell for the last time when Arthur Greg left Charing Cross Railway Station for Boulogne, to join 55th Squadron. He was shot down over St Quentin on 23rd April, St George's Day, 1917. Arthur is buried at Jussy Cemetery. "Love is stronger than death" is the inscription on his gravestone. Marian Allen heard the news and some of her finest poems, many of them sonnets, were written almost immediately. She completed "To A. T. G." on 2nd May, and "I like to think of you..." on 10th May.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Marian Allen was a successful writer and illustrator of books for children.  She also designed book covers.

Marian died in Oxford on 12th September 1953.

Marian Allen’s WW1 poetry collection “The Wind on the Downs” was published by Hymphreys, London in 1918.   She also had a poem included in the WW1 anthology “War Verse”, edited by Frank Foxcroft (Crowell, New York, 1918). 

“The Raiders”

In shadowy formation up they rise,
Dusky raiders with their bat-like wings.
The night is studded with a thousand eyes
And its dim cloak on desolation flings.
The wind through stay and wire moans and whines,
The engines throb with thrilled expectant breath.
Eighty  miles to eastward on the lines
They go and carry with them stings of death.
The spirit of Adventure calls ahead,
They leave the earth behind them battle-bound
And rise untrammelled from the war-stained ground,
Grey moving shadows o’er the lonely dead,
Flying unflinching as an arrow flies
Down the uncharted roadway of the skies.

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 40 and p. 10

Find my Past