Friday, 31 July 2020

Commemorative First World War Exhibition Project

This self-funded project is in memory of my Grandfather, who was an Old Contemptible  with the Royal Field Artillery who survived, and my two Great Uncles who lost their lives in WW1.

I began researching WW1 in 2012 for an exhibiton of Female Poets of the First World War, requested by Dean Johnson, founder of the Wilfred Owen Story museum (The WOS), Wirral, UK.   Once the exhibition was on display, I just continued researching, adding other headings. Inspirational Women of WW1 came about when I stumbled on the story of Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton, commissioned in early 1919 by the Canadian Amputees Association to go and paint the aftermath in France and Belgium.  Philip Gosse, MD, a General Practitioner in Britain was the Official Rat Catcher Officer of the British Second Army on the Western Front, which brought about Fascinating Facts of the Great War.  Realisation that Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves were not the only male soldier poets of WW1, prompted me to start researching Forgotten Poets of the First World War.  I am now researching lesser-known artists of WW1.

Exhibition panels are e-mailed free of charge to anyone wishing to host an exhibition.  Exhibitions have been held in a wide variety of locations throughout the UK, as well as in Cork University, Ireland and in Delaware University, USA, and panels have been sent to schools.  If you know of a venue that would like to display panels, please ask them to contact me and I will send them the list of panels researched so far. 

If you are interested in exhibiting any of the panels researched so far, a full list of panels available will be sent on request.  Some of the panels have been put into book form – please see for details.

Commemorative First World War Exhibition Project

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Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Ada Foster Murray (1856 - 1939) – American poet

Born in 1856 in Edgbrook, Virginia, USA, Ada Foster Murray is perhaps best remembered now as being the mother of the poet Aline Murray Kilmer -  the wife of the American soldier poet Joyce Kilmer.  However, Ada was also a published poet.

Little is known about Ada’s early life;  she married Kenton C. Murray, (d. 1895), who was the Editor of the “Norfolk Landmark” newspaper and they went to live in Brunswick, New Jersey. Ada and Kenton had the following children: Kenton Foster Murray (1876–1937), Ada B. Murray b. 1884,
Aline Murray Kilmer (1888–1941), Constance Murray Greene b. 1891 and Douglas Murray (1894–1951).

After the death of Kenton Murray in 1895, Ada married Henry Mills Alden on 22nd February 1900 in Washington, DC.  Henry was the managing editor of “Harper's Magazine”, and he became stepfather to Ada and Kenton’s children.  The couple and their family lived in in Metuchen, New Jersey.

Ada continued to write throughout her life, both poetry and prose and had several poems published in various newspapers and magazines during her lifetime. In 1910 that she compiled and published a collection of her work under the title “Flower’s O’ The Grass”.

“Unwedded” by Ada Foster Murray

ALONG her tranquil way she went,
  The slow, sad course of changeless years,
While in her burned her youth unspent,
  Dulled sometimes by her gentle tears.

In richer lives she saw the strange,
  Sweet urgency of wedded days;
In dreams she watched her pale light change,
  Into the steadfast altar blaze.

And, waking, sadly bowed above
  Her slender vestal flame and wept;
Ah, better were the house of love,
  By blighting fire and tempest swept.

From:  “The Answering Voice: One Hundred Love Lyrics by Women”, edited by Sara Teasdale (1884–1933)  (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1917).

Sources:  Various, including

Angela Morgan (c.1875 - 1957) - American poet and pacifist

Nina Lillian Morgan was born in about 1875. Her parents were Alwyn Morgan and Carol Baldwin Morgan. She had three sisters and a brother.  From 1876 until 1885, fhe family lived in Washington, DC;  they then moved to Lawrence, Kansas, and later to Topeka, Kansas. In 1890 Angela's father left home to become a gold prospector, and until 1898 she earned money singing with her three sisters. She married Peter Sweningson in 1900 but the marriage was dissolved in 1906.

Changing her name to Angela, she became a journalist for the “Chicago Daily American”, later working for the “New York American” and the “Boston American”.

Angela's first poetry collection, entitled “The Hour Has Struck”, was published in 1914.  In 1915, one of her poems - “God's Man” - was published in “Collier's Weekly”, an American magazine, founded in 1888 by Peter Fenelon Collier. The magazine ceased publication with the issue dated for the week ending January 4, 1957

In April 1915, Angela crossed the Atlantic Ocean as one of the American delegates to the International Congress of Women’s Peace Conference which was held in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

Between 1923 and 1926, Angela lived in London, UK. She was the first woman to be invited to give a reading of her poetry for the Poetry Society in London, which was founded in 1909 as the Poetry Recital Society, becoming the Poetry Society in 1912.

For several years, Angela was the poet in residence at Ogontz Junior College, Rydal (PA). She also served as President of the Philadelphia branch of the League of American Penwomen and Chairman of the Literary Arts Committee of the Philadelphia Art Alliance.

In 1942, Angela was awarded an honorary doctorate for her services to literature from Golden State University, founded in Los Angeles in 1901, and now in Downey, California.

Angela died at Mount Marion, New York on 24th January 1957, leaving a legacy of poems and short stories.

Some of Angela’s publications include:
“The Hour Has Struck- A War Poem and Other Poems” (Eugene C. Lewis Co., New York, 1915)
“Utterance and Other Poems” (1916)
“Forward, March” (1918)
“Hail, Man” (1919)

An excerpt from the poem “THE HOUR HAS STRUCK” by Angela Morgan

Now let the people stand and take great heed —
The time is ripe for the immortal deed,
The call is loud for the untrammeled man
To execute God's plan.
Men have gone back unto their primal greed,
On all the hopes of earth have they gone back,
Traitors to faith and every human creed —
Justice and Life and Truth arc on the rack.
A Monster crouches on the breast of Time,
Fiercer than Moloch, filthier than crime ;
A Monster foaming drunk with human gore —
Poets may sing their battle hymns no more.
Poets no more their battle songs may raise.
Nor priest nor patriot sound their putrid praise-
Their blasphemies were smitten from the pen.
Their voices hushed by shrieks of dying men.
Let him who tries
To light his lyric by those crimson skies
Look on this Monster with the hideous head,
White with the staring eyeballs of the dead.
Let him behold the Terror face to face.

From: “The Hour Has Struck- A War Poem and Other Poems” (Eugene C. Lewis Co., New York, 1915)

Chris Dubbs “An Unladylike Profession: American Women War Correspondents in World War1” (Potomac Books, Inc., Nebraska, 2020)  p. 140
Mark Van Wienen, “Women’s Ways in War: the Poetry and Politics of the Woman’s Peace Party, 1915- 1917, Modern Fiction Studies, Volume 38, No. 3 – “The “Politics " of Modernism (John Hopkins University Press, Autumn 1992), pp. 687-714.
Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 398

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Edith Matilda Thomas (1854 –1925) -American poet

“… one of the first poets to capture successfully the excitement of the modern city"

Born in Chatham Center, Ohio, USA on 12th August 1854, Edith was educated at the normal school of Geneva, Ohio, and Oberlin College. She became a school teacher for two years, before becoming a typesetter.

Edith began writing at an early age early for the local newspapers, and was encouraged by author Helen Hunt Jackson to send verse to more important periodicals. Edith gained national attention with her poetry when “Scribner's”, “The Atlantic Monthly”, “The Century” and other prominent magazines published her poems.

In 1884, Canadian poet Charles G.D. Roberts* wrote of her that "as far as I am aware her poems are not yet gathered in book form, and are therefore only to be obtained, few in number, by gleaning from the magazines and periodicals. Yet so red-blooded are these verses, of thought and of imagination all compact, so richly individual and so liberal in promise, that the name of their author is already become conspicuous.... We are justified in expecting much from her genius."

Edith’s first collection, entitled “A New Year's Masque and Other Poems” was published in 1885.  In 1887 she moved to New York City, where she worked for “Harper's” and “Century Dictionary”. She lived in New York for the rest of her life and published more than 300 poems between 1890 and 1909.

Edith died on 13th September 1925 and on her death she was described as "one of the most distinguished American poets” by The New York Times.

Edith’s collection “Selected Poems” was published in 1926, a year after her death.


The little children in my country kiss the American flag. MADAME VANDERVELDE

What of those children over the sea
That are beating about the world’s rough ways,
Like the tender blossoms from off a tree
That a sudden gale in Spring betrays?
The children? Oh, let them look for the sign
Of a wave-borne flag, thou land of mine!
On the old gray sea its course it holds,
Life for the famished is in its gift ....
And the children are crowding to kiss its folds,
While the tears of their mothers fall free and swift. —
And what of the flag their lips have pressed?
Oh, guard it for ever — That flag is blest.

Edith M. Thomas

From: “The Book of the Homeless - Le Livre des Sans-Foyer - a 1916 collection of essays, art, poetry, and musical scores”, edited by Edith Wharton and sold during WW1 for the benefit of the American Hostels for Refugees (with the Foyer Franco-Belge) and of the Children of Flanders Rescue Committee (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916)

The book is now available as a free download courtesy of Gutenberg:


*Charles G.D. Roberts, honoured as the father of Canadian literature, was one of the older poets to serve in the First World War.  Born in 1860, he had to lie about his age to join the army; he served as a troop instructor in Britain and as a war historian on the Western Front.

Friday, 17 July 2020

Mary Borden (1886 – 1968) - American poet, writer and nurse in WW1

Portrait of Mary by
Glyn Philpot 1884 - 1937
Mary Borden was born on 15th May 1886. Her parents were milionaire William Borden 1850–1906 and his wife, Mary DeGarmo Whiting Borden, 1861–1933. Her siblings were: John Borden 1884–1961 and William Whiting Borden  1887–1913.

Mary’s brother, William Whiting Borden, became well known in conservative Christian circles for his evangelistic zeal and early death while preparing to become a missionary.

Mary was educated at Vassar College Liberal arts college in New York State, graduating with a BA degree in 1907.  Mary met Scottish misionary George Douglas Turner (b. 1880), while on a tour of the Far East. They were married on 28th August 1908 in Lausanne, Switzerland. The couple had three daughters:  Joyce (born 1909), Comfort (born 1910) and Mary (born 1914).

In 1913, Mary and her husband went to live in England, where Mary joined the Suffragette movement. She was arrested during a demonstration in Parliament Square for throwing a stone through the window of His Majesty's Treasury.

When war broke out in August 1914, Mary used her personal fortune and her contacts and equipped a field hospital to take to France. She served there in a nursing capacity until the end of the war looking after wounded French soldiers.  While there, Mary met Edward Louis Spears, a British soldier who was a liaison officer between French and British forces. He was amazed to find a woman so close to the front lines. They fell in love and Mary separated from her husband, who took custody of their children.  After Mary and George’s divorce, Mary and Edward were married at the British consulate in Paris in 1918. Their only child, Michael, was born in 1921.
Mary during WW1

Mary wrote poetry during her time in France and also wrote about her wartime experiences in a book entitled “The Forbidden Zone”, which was published in 1929, the same year that Hemingway published “A Farewell to Arms”, Graves published  “Good-Bye to All That” and Remarque published “All Quiet on the Western Front”.  The Forbidden Zone containes five long poems that describe what she saw and did working in the military hospital

Mary and Edward lived in Britain between the wars and in 1939, she was drawn back to France planning to set up a field hospital unit. With funds donated by Sir Robert Hadfield via his wife, Lady Hadfield, she set up the Hadfield-Spears Ambulance Unit, which was based in Lorraine until forced by the German Blitzkrieg to retreat across France, before its evacuation from Arcachon in June 1940. In Britain, the unit re-grouped and received further funding from the British War Relief Society in New York. In May 1941, the Hadfield-Spears Ambulance Unit was attached to the Free French in the Middle East, before accompanying their forces across North Africa, Italy and France.

Mary Borden (center) with Sir Edward Spears (back row, left)
 in the Lebanon, 1942, IWM
"Journey Down a Blind Alley", published on her return to Paris in 1946, records the history of the unit and her disillusionment with the French failure to put up an effective resistance to the German invasion and occupation.

In later life, Mary returned frequently to America and helped her nephew-in-law - Adlai Ewing Stevenson II - in his campaign for the presidency. Mary died on 2nd December 1968.

 "UNIDENTIFIED" by Mary Borden

Look well at this man. Look!
Come up out of your graves, philosophers,
And you who founded churches, and all you
Who for ten thousand years have talked of God.
Come out of your uncomfortable tombs, astronomers,
Who raked the heavens with your mighty eyes,
And died, unanswered questions on your lips,
For you have something interesting to learn
By looking at this man.
Stand all about, you many-legioned ghosts;
Fill up the desert with your shadowy forms,
And in the vast resounding waste of death,
Watch him while he dies;
He will not notice you.
Observe his ugliness.
See how he stands there planted in the mud like some old battered image of a faith forgotten by its God.
Note his naked neck and jutting jaw under the iron hat that's jammed upon his head;
See how he rounds his shoulders, bends his back inside his clumsy coat;
And how he leans ahead, gripping with grimy fists
The muzzle of his gun that digs it butt-end down into the mud between the solid columns of his legs.
Look close, come close, pale ghosts
Come back out of the dim unfinished past;
Crowd up across the edges of the earth,
Where the horizon, like a red hot wire, twists underneath tremendous smoking blows.
Come up, come up across the quaking ground that gapes in sudden holes beneath your feet;
Come fearlessly across the twisting field where bones of men stick through the tortured mud.
Ghosts have no need to fear.
Look close at this man. Look!
He waits for death;
He watches it approach;
His little bloodshot eyes can see it bearing down on every side;
He feels it coming underneath his feet, running, burrowing underneath the ground;
He hears it screaming in the frantic air.
Death that tears the shrieking sky in two,
That suddenly explodes out of the festering bowels of the earth
Dreadful and horrid death.
He takes the impact of it on his back, his chest, his belly and his arms;
Spreads his legs upon its lurching form;
Plants his feet upon its face and breathes deep into his pumping lungs the gassy breath of death.
He does not move.
In all the running landscape there's a solitary thing that's motionless:
The figure of this man.
The sky long since has fallen from its dome.
Terror let loose like a gigantic wind has torn it from the ceiling of the world,
And it is flapping down in frantic shreds.
The earth ages ago leaped screaming up out of the fastness of its ancient laws.
There is no centre now to hold it down. It rolls and writhes, a shifting tortured thing, a floating mass of matter set adrift.
And in between the fluttering tatters of the ruined sky,
And the convulsions of the maddened earth,
The man stands solid.
Something holds him there.
What holds him, timid ghosts?
What do you say, you shocked and shuddering ghosts,
Dragged from your sheltered vaults;
You who once died in quiet lamp-lit rooms;
Who were companioned to the end by friends;
And closed your eyes in languor on a world
That you had fashioned for your pleasant selves?
You scorned this man.
He was for you an ordinary man.
Some of you pitied him, prayed over his soul, worried him with stories of Heaven and Hell.
Promised him Heaven if he would be ashamed of being what he was,
And everlasting sorrow if he died as he had lived, an ordinary man.
You gave him Gods he could not know, and images of God; laws he could not keep, and punishment.
You were afraid of him.
Everything about him that was his very own
Made you afraid of him.
His love of women, food and drink, and fun,
His clumsy reach for life, his open grabbing fist,
His stupid open gaping heart and mouth.
He was a hungry man,
And you were afraid of him.
None of you trusted him;
No one of you was his friend.
Look at him now. Look well, look long.
Your hungry brute, your ordinary man;
Your fornicator, drunkard, anarchist;
Your ruthless rough seed-sowing male;
Your angry greedy egotist;
Your lost, bewildered, childish dunce;
Come close kind look into his haggard face.
It is too late to do him justice now, or even speak to him.
But look.
Look at the stillness of his face.
It's made of little fragile bones and flesh, tissued of quivering muscles fine as silk;
Exquisite nerves, soft membrane warm with blood,
That travels smoothly through the tender veins.
One blow, one minute more, and that man's face will be a mass of matter, horrid slime and little brittle splinters.
He knows.
He waits.
His face remains quite still.
And underneath the bullet-spattered helmet on his head
His steady eyes look out.
What is it that looks out?
What is deep mirrored in those bloodshot eyes?
Terror? No.
Despair? Perhaps.
What else?
Ah, poor ghosts-poor blind unseeing ghosts!
It is his self you see;
His self that does remember what he loved and what he wanted, and what he never had;
His self that can regret, that can reproach its own self now; his self that gave itself, let loose its hold of all but just itself.
Is that, then, nothing? Just his naked self, pinning down a shaking world,
A single rivet driven down to hold a universe together.
Go back, poor ghosts. Go back into your graves.
He has no use for you, this nameless man.
Scholars, philosophers, men of God, leave this man alone.
No lamp you lit will show his soul the way;
No name restore his lost identity.
The guns will chant his death march down the world;
The flare of cannon light his dying;
The mute and nameless men beneath his feet will welcome him beside them in the mud.
Take one last look and leave him standing there,
Unfriended, unrewarded, and unknown.


Slander (A Hungarian edition, 1930s)
The Mistress of Kingdoms; or Smoking Flax by Bridget MacLagan (Pseudonym) (1912)
Collision by Bridget MacLagan (Pseudonym) (play) (1913)
The Romantic Woman by Bridget MacLagan (Pseudonym) (1916)
The Tortoise (1921)
Jane - Our Stranger (1923)
Three Pilgrims and a Tinker (1924)
Four O'Clock and Other Stories (1926)
Flamingo (1927)
Four O'clock (1927)
The Forbidden Zone (1929) OCLC: 1852756
Jehovah's Day (1929)
A Woman with White Eyes (1930)
Sarah Gay (1931)
Action for Slander (1937)
The Woman I Love (1937)
Journey Down a Blind Alley (1946)
You, the Jury (1952)
Poems of Love and War (2015)

Poems from “The Forbidden Zone”

Josephine Preston Peabody (874 – 1922) - American poet and playwright

Josephine was born in New York on 30th May 1874. She was educated at the Girls' Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts and at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1898 at an art exhibition, Josephine was introduced to Khalil Gibran (6th January 1883 – 10th April 10 1931) the Lebanese-American writer, poet and artist, by Fred Holland Day, the American photographer and co-founder of the Copeland-Day publishing house.   When Gibran returned to the Lebanon they wrote regularly to each other.

From 1901 to 1903 Josephine taught English at Wellesley. The Stratford-on-Avon prize was awarded to her in 1909 for her play “The Piper”, which was produced in England in 1910 and in America at the New Theatre, New York City, in 1911.*

On 21st June 1906, Josephine married Lionel Simeon Marks, a British engineer and professor at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. They had a daughter, Alison Peabody Marks (1908 – 2008), and a son, Lionel Peabody Marks (1910 - 1984).

THE SANS-FOYER (Tr. The Homeless) by Josephine Preston Peabody

Love, that Love cannot share,—
Now turn to air!
And fade to ashes, O my daily bread,
Save only if you may
Bless you, to be the stay
Of the uncomforted.
Behold, you far-off lights,—
From smoke-veiled heights,
If there be dwelling in our wilderness!
For Love the refugee,
No stronghold can there be,—
No shelter more, while these go shelterless.
Love hath no home, beside
His own two arms spread wide;—
The only home, among all walls that are:
So there may come to cling,
Some yet forlorner thing
Feeling its way, along this blackened star.

From the book edited by Edith Wharton and produced and sold in aid of the Belgian Homeless during WW1 see below.

SAmong her publications were:

Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew (1897)
The Wayfarers: A Book of Verse (1898)
Fortune and Men's Eyes: New Poems, with a Play (1900)
In the Silence (1900)
Marlowe (her first play),[6]
The Singing Leaves; a book of songs and spells (1903)
The Wings (1905), a drama
The Book of the Little Past (1908)
The Piper: A Play in Four Acts (1909)
The Singing Man (1911), poems
The Wolf of Gubbio (1913)
New Poems (1915)

*NB: According to Olga David, Secretary of The Stratford Society: "The Stratford Upon Avon Memorial Theatre was inaugurated in April 1879.

The prize awarded to Josephine Preston Peabody was awarded for an International playwriting competition - 315 Writers took part;
“The Piper” won first prize - $1,500.00; and was performed at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in 1910 and subsequently that summer in London and in New York in the winter of 1911".


“The Book of the Homeless - Le Livre des Sans-Foyer - a 1916 collection of essays, art, poetry, and musical scores”, edited by Edith Wharton and sold for the benefit of the American Hostels for Refugees (with the Foyer Franco-Belge) and of the Children of Flanders Rescue Committee (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916) which is available as a free download

Edith Wharton as a WW1 front-line Journalist

Find out more about American WW1 poet and charity worker  Edith Wharton's amazing exploits visiting the front line in order to write about what she saw and experienced in "An Unladlylike Profession: American Women War Correspondents in World War 1" by Chris Dubbs.

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937) – American poet, writer and designer

Edith when young painted by British-born artist Edward Harrison May
Edith Newbold Jones was born in New York on 24th January 1862. Her parents were George Frederic Jones and his wife, Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander. Edith had two older siblings: Frederic Rhinelander and Henry Edward.

From 1866 to 1872, the Jones family visited Europe, taking in France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. During her travels, the young Edith became fluent in French, German, and Italian. At the age of nine, she contracted typhoid fever, which nearly killed her, while the family were at a spa in the Black Forest. After their return to America, the family divided their time between New York City and Newport, Rhode Island.  Educated privately by tutors and governesses, Edith began writing at an early age.

In 1878 Edith’s father arranged for a collection of two dozen of Edith’s own poems and five translations to be published. Edith had a poem published in the “New York World” in 1879, using a pen-name;  in1880, she had five poems published anonymously in “Atlantic Monthly” and her poem "The Last Giustiniani" was published in “Scribner's Magazine” in October 1889.

Edith married Edward (Teddy) Robbins Wharton on 29th April 1885. However, when the marriage deteriorated, she decided to move permanently to France and purchased an apartment in Paris. She worked tirelessly throughout the First World War to support the French war effort, founding a workroom for unemployed women, where they sewed and were fed and paid one franc a day. When the Germans invaded Belgium and Paris saw the arrival of Belgian refugees, Edith helped to set up the American Hostels for Refugees, which managed to get them shelter, meals, and clothes. She then set up an employment agency to help them find work, collecting over $100,000 for the cause. In early 1915 Edith set up the Children of Flanders Rescue Committee, which helped around 900 Belgian refugees.

Aided by her influential connections in the French government, Edith and her friend Walter Berry (who at that time was President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris), were among the few foreigners in France allowed to travel to the front lines. They made five journeys between February and August 1915, which Wharton described in a series of articles that were first published in “Scribner's Magazine” and later as a book entitled “Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort”, which became a success in America. Travelling by car, Wharton and Berry drove through the war zone, viewing one decimated French village after another. She visited the trenches, and was within earshot of artillery fire.

After the war, Edith moved to Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt and purchased an 18th-century house on seven acres of land which she called “Pavillon Colombe”, where she lived for the remainder of her life, when she was not wintering in Hyères on the French Riviera. Edith was awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921, for her delightful book “The Age of Innocence”, which was published in 1920.

Edith died of a stroke on 11th August 1937, leaving us a huge legacy of her writing.  This book edited by Edith Wharton and sold in aid of Belgian refugees during the First World War is particularly interesting:
From "Twelbe Poems", 1926

“Belgium” a poem by Edith Wharton

La Belgique ne regrette rien

Not with her ruined silver spires,
Not with her cities shamed and rent,
Perish the imperishable fires
That shape the homestead from the tent.

Wherever men are staunch and free,
There shall she keep her fearless state,
And homeless, to great nations be
The home of all that makes them great

See also  Campbell, Donna M. "Works by Edith Wharton". Washington State University.

Note: Edward Harrison May. During the Franco-Prussian War, May served as a captain in the "American Ambulance" – a temporary military hospital staffed by volunteers from the American colony in Paris. He received a medal for his services during the war. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland (1867 – 1955) – British poet and WW1 nurse (pen-name Erskine Gower)

Lady Millicent Fanny St. Clair-Erskine was born on 20th October 1867 in Dysart, Fife, Scotland. Her parents were Francis Robert St. Clair-Erskine, 4th Earl of Rosslyn and his wife Blanche Adeliza, nee Fitz Roy. Milicent had the following siblings: Sybil Fane, Countess of Westmorland and Lady Angela Forbes.

Blanche Adeliza was the widow of the Hon. Charles Maynard, so Millicent and her siblings were half-sisters to Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick and Blanche, Lady Algernon Gordon-Lennox (mother to Ivy Cavendish-Bentinck, Duchess of Portland). Their maternal grandfather was Henry Fitzroy, whose father, the Reverend Lord Henry Fitzroy, was a Canon of Westminster Abbey, and whose grandfather was a Prime Minister - Augustus FitzRoy, 3rd Duke of Grafton.

On 20th October 1884, Millicent married Cromartie Sutherland-Leveson- Gower, Marquess of Stafford, eldest son and heir of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland. They had four children:  Lady Victoria Elizabeth Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1885–1888), George Granville Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 5th Duke of Sutherland (1888–1963) Alastair St. Clair Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1890–1921)  and Lady Rosemary Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1893–1930).

Her husband inherited the Dukedom of Sutherland on his father's death in 1892;   he died in 1913.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Millicent was amongst the first to establish a Red Cross Ambulance Unit in Belgium. After escaping from Belgium when the Germans invaded, her unit became a British Red Cross Hospital Unit and went to France in the summer of 1915.  “The Hospital in the Oat Field” was recorded in a series of paintings by French artist Victor Tardieu (1870 – 1937) who volunteered to join the French Army in 1914. The paintings were purchased in 1913 by the Florence Nightingale Museum in London.
"The Hospital in the Oat Field" painting by Victor Tardieu

Millicent moved to Roubaix in June 1918 with her Red Cross Unit. She was awarded the Belgian Royal Red Cross, the French Croix de Guerre and the British Red Cross for her tireless work during the conflict.

After the war, Millicent lived in France and was again captured by the Germans in 1940. She escaped through Spain and Portugal and went to live in the USA, returning to Paris in 1945.

Millicent died on 20th August 1955 in Orriule, France.

Millicent’s WW1 poems, written under the name M.Gower, were included in three WW1 anthologies:  “The Fiery Cross”, edited by Mabel C. Edwards & Mary Booth (Grant Richards, London, 1915), “Lest we forget” edited by H.B. Eliott (Jarrolds, London, 1915) and “Poems in memory of the late Field-Marshall Lord Kitchener” Edited by Charles Frederick Forshaw (Institute of British Poetry, 1916.

The Tirailleur (To the memory of René) by Millicent Sutherland

He was so young to die - -
Ah; these are catchwords now
When death sucks red lips white
Yet laurel-crowns the brow!

The while we slaked his thirst
Around us night-flies sang,
Why did we wish him life?
Why did we fel a pang?

He lived the hight to dawn,
And all the hot day through
The fever lit his eyes,
His limbs no resting knew.

“Je pars tout seul”, he said.
Yet radiance on his face
Bespoke him radiant dreams
Veiled in eternal grace.

The hour he died, a moth
With golden quivering wings
Upon his pillow poised,
And whispered lovely things.

To his dear fluttering soul - -
Of brothers at his side,
And comrades crying “Haste,
The boat is on the tide” –

Till with the setting sun
Outward his spirit leapt - -
In calm the moon arose,
Only the Sister wept.

First published in “The Fiery Cross: An Anthology”

Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)  pp. 307, 7 and 9 - 10.

Milicent Duchess of Sutherland with her daughter, Lady Rosemary and her sister the Countess of Westmoreland

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Elizabeth Daryush (1887 - 1977) – British poet

Elizabeth’s father, Robert Bridges, was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1913 until his deth in 1930.

Elizabeth Bridges was born in Marylebone, London, UK on 8th December 1887. Her parents were the physician and poet Robert Bridges and his wife, Mary Monica Bridges, nee Waterhouse – daughter of the architect Alfred Waterhouse.  Elizabeth had a brother - Edward Etingdene Bridges, born in 1893.

Elizabeth married Ali Akbar Daryush, a Persian government official who she met when he was studying at the University of Oxford, and the couple then spent some time in Persia. However, most of the time, they lived at the Bridges' family home, Stockwell, in Boars Hill, near Oxford.

The garden of their Boars Hill home was left by Ali as a memorial garden, named after Elizabeth, and managed by the Oxford Preservation Trust.

Elizabeth published a collection of poems entitled “Sonnets from Hafez and other verses” (Blackwell, Oxford, 1916) and had her poems published in three WW1 anthologies.

Under her married name - Elizabeth Daryush – she published four volumes of her poems entitled “Verses” (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1930, 1932, 1933 and 1934).

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) pp. 66, 104, 3, 29.
"Sorows of a Subaltern" cartoon

“Subalterns” by Elizabeth Daryush

Brunswick, Australia, post-war
She said to one: ‘How glows
My heart at the hot thought
Of battle’s glorious throes!’
He said: ‘For us who fought
Are icy memories
That must for ever freeze
The sunny hours they bought.’

She said to one: ‘How light
Must your freed heart be now,
After the heavy fight!”
He said: ‘Well I don’t know…
The war gave one a shake,
Somehow, knocked one awake…
Now, life’s so deadly slow.’ 

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

May Aldington (1872 - 1954) – British poet and novelist

Mother of WW1 soldier poet Richard Aldington

Jessie May Godfree was born in 1872 in Hythe, Kent. Her parents were Charles Godfree, a Sergeant Major in the British Army, and his wife, Eliza Godfree, nee Burden. May was baptized on 9th June 1872. She maried Albert Edward Aldington, a solicitor, on 27th September 1891 in Kent and the couple had four children, among them the poet Richard Aldington.

Both Albert and May wrote and published books and their home held a large library of European and classical literature. May’s published works included “Love Letters that Caused a Divorce”, “The Man of Kent” and “Meg of the Salt-Pans”, about which “The Westminster Review” said : ‘Mrs Aldington has succeeded in doing for a corner of rural Kent that which Thomas Hardy has done for his beloved Wessex’. May ran the historic Mermaid Inn in Rye, Sussex, a frequent haunt of writers.

May died in Battle, Sussex in early 1954.

“Roll of Honour” by May Aldington 

He was born on a summer’s day,
Just as a lark awoke to singing,
Soft in the bend of my arm he lay,
And the bells of Heav’n were ringing.

Brave he grew, as men are brave,
Swift to hear the big drum rolling,
Forth he marched to the bugle’s call
And the fifes of the Scots carolling.

“Killed in action,” this do they say?
With the fifes and the drums still calling!

Soft in the bend of my arm he lay,
These are tears of pride now falling.

May’s WW1 poetry collection was entitled “Roll of Honour” (Adame, Rye, 1917)

Sources: Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Pres, New York, 1978) p. 38.
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