Thursday 27 August 2020

Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (1852 – 1932) - Irish dramatist, poet, writer and theatre manager.

With thanks to poet Becky Bishop for telling me about Lady Gregory.  

Isabella Augusta Persse was born at Roxborough, County Galway, Ireland on 15th March 1852. She was educated at home and became interested in Irish folklore at an early age. 

On 4th March 1880, in St Matthias' Church, Dublin, Isabella married Sir William Henry Gregory, a widower with an estate at Coole Park, near Gort. Sir William had just retired from his post as Governor of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), having previously served several terms as Member of Parliament for County Galway.  Their only child, WW1 soldier artist William Robert Gregory born in 1881. He was killed during the First World War while serving as a pilot, an event which inspired W. B. Yeats's poems "An Irish Airman Foresees His Death", "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory" and "Shepherd and Goatherd".

Isabella, William Butler Yeats and Edward Martyn founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre.

Isabella died on 22nd May 1932. 

“Alas! A woman may not love!” by Lady Gregory

Alas! a woman may not love!

For why should she bestow in vain

The riches of that treasure-trove

To win but a receipt of pain.

For never will the gainer pay

In full the love she gives away –

Be it a brother – soon some other

Sweet maiden passing holds his eye

And in his thought she stands for naught

His second self in days gone by –

Be it a husband – ah! how soon

The rainbow-coloured honeymoon

Fades in dull tints of common life

With misty cares and clouds of strife –

Be it her sons – some few short years

They cling to her in smiles and tears

But childhood passes fast and then

The boys look on themselves as men

And learn too quickly to despise

The love lore in their mother’s eyes –

Or if – ah me! she chance to find

One led to her by wayward fate

In whom she learns a kindred mind

Found by her own too late – too late –

Ah pity her – for if she yield

What from remorse her soul can shield –

Or if she conquer, the sore strife

May yet have cost her half her life –

The wound that ne’er can be laid bare

May be the sorest scar to wear –

The grief that brings no right to weep

May be the one to banish sleep –

Perchance not so in heaven above –

But here, a woman may not love.


Sunday 23 August 2020

Lucy Hawkins ( ? - ?) - WW1 female poet

It is always exciting to discover a poet I have not previously heard of.  In the book “The Forgotten Army: Women’s Poetry of the First World War”, edited by Nora Jones and Liz Ward, are several poets I have not yet researched and one I had not previously heard of – Lucy Hawkins.   On pages 24 – 25 are Lucy Hawkins’ poems “A Private” and “To an Officer in Regent Street”.  

Lucy Hawkins' WW1 collection “At a Venture” was published by Blackwell, Oxford in 1917.

I have not been able to discover anything about Lucy Hawkins – if anyone can help please get in touch.

"To an Officer in Regent Street” by Lucy Hawkins

LIKE some lean ghost who for a little space

Looks on the world again, and the clear skies,

Or mariner that from the sea doth rise

In vain, to find another in his place,

You walk with shades of death on your brown face

And look upon the street with dead men’s eyes.

Fresh women throng beside  you in the street

And painted women;  but they seek in vain

To catch those haunted eyes, or turn again

From their slow course toward waiting death your feet.

You must pass lonely, on whose brow there meet

Abel’s sharp anguish, and the curse of Cain.

Note: Regent Street is one of the main shopping centres of London’s West End.  It was named after the Prince Regent George, who went on to become King George IV. It runs from Waterloo Place in St James's at the southern end, through Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, to All Souls Church. From there Langham Place and Portland Place continue the route to Regent's Park.

Women’s Poetry of the First World War” Edited by Nora Jones and Liz Ward (Highgate Publications, Beverley, Ltd., Beverley, 1991)

Sunday 16 August 2020

Georgina Byng Paget (1874 - 1916) – British poet.

With thanks to Historian and Poet Becky Bishop for

reminding me that I had not yet researched Georgina who is on the List of Female Poets

Georgina Byng Paget was born in Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK in 1874, the birth being registered in the first quarter.  Her parents were Herbert Byng Paget (1846 – 1914) and his wife, Clara Fraser Paget, nee Robinson. Georgina was baptised on 25th February 1874.

In June 1904, Georgina Byng Paget married Eric Morton Paget. Eric was the fourth son of the Rev. Edward Heneage Paget.  In 1911, Georgina and Eric were living in Great Barton, Suffolk.

Georgina died at Hindhead, Surrey on 14th September 1916.

Her poetry collection “Song of the Unborn, and other poems” was published by Grant Richards, London, in 1916.  

“AFTERWARDS” by Georgina B. Paget

LAST night I dreamed he came to me,

My soldier and my saint:

Somewhere, far off, an earthly sea

Beat desolate and faint;

In a dim twilight place we met,

No world before, behind.

I could not see his face, and yet

I knew his eyes were kind.

No words; he knew my heavy part -—

Longing that may not cease —

And, knowing that he knew, my heart

Fell upon utter peace.

And then I woke: a late cock crew,

The clocks were chiming seven—

O God! if Heaven be dreams come true

We need not dream, in Heaven.

From “Song of the Unborn” p. 13


I have a friend who is more than a friend,

But he may not tell me so ;

We play at the game of Let’s Pretend,

And he doesn’t know that I know.

We could never win through the gate of Sin

To the haven of heart’s desire;

Let us wait awhile (with a sigh and a smile

Lest our pearl be lost in mire. 

So, because my friend is more than my friend

I never must tell him so;

But play at the game of Let's Pretend,—

And he'll never know that I know.

From “Song of the Unborn” p. 38.


Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 247.

Friday 14 August 2020

Kathleen Montgomery Wallace (1890 – 1958) – British writer and poet

Kathleen was born Kathleen Montgomery Coates in Cambridge on 11th September 1890.  Her father, William Montgomery Coates (1857 – 1912), was a Fellow, a Bursar and a Lecturer in Maths at Queen’s College, Cambridge University.  Her mother was Susan Coates, nee Webb.  William and Susan were married in Dublin in 1899.  The couple had three children – twin daughters, Aileen Montgomery (1890‒1891) and Kathleen Montgomery (1890‒1958), and a son, Basil Montgomery (1893‒1915). Aileen died when she was just fourteen months old, which must surely have had been traumatic for little Kathleen as well as for her parents. The family lived in Cambridge and also had a home in Norfolk.

Educated at Perse High School for Girls, Cambridge, Kathleen went on to Girton College in 1909, where she read Modern Languages. She specialised in French, taking the MML Tripos Part I in 1912 and Part II in 1914. Kathleen, along with Margaret Postgate (Cole), Monica Mary Curtis and two other Girton graduates, contributed poems to a volume of poetry entitled “Bits of Things”, which was published in January 1914.

Kathleen’s brother, Basil, was educated at The Perse School and Oundle before going on to Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC).  He volunteered for the Army in 1914 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Rifle Brigade from the University OTC.  Basil’s Regiment – the 10th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) - was posted to France in the early summer of 1915.  He served at the front in the Ypres Salient and was killed by a sniper on 7th September 1915, while on patrol south of Ypres.  Basil has no known grave and is remembered on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium - Panel 10.

In March 1917, Kathleen married Canadian soldier Major James Hill Wallace (1882 - 1953) in Fulham, London. James was a Canadian soldier from North Gower, Ontario, who was attached to the Canadian Mounted Rifles. By the Armistice in November 1918, James was serving as Chief Supervisor of the Canadian YMCA and was awarded an OBE for his war service.

In 1918, Kathleen published a collection of poems entitled “Lost City Verses” (Heffer, Cambridge, 1918), in which many of the poems reflect her grief at the loss of her brother.  Kathleen also had poems published in two WW1 poetry anthologies. 

After the War, Kathleen and her husband spent two years in Ontario, before going to China for several years. They returned to live in England in 1927.  The couple had four sons.

Kathleen’s experiences in China were the inspiration for a series of novels published between 1930 and 1938, of which the most successful was “Ancestral Tablet” (1938). As well as poetry and novels, Katherine wrote fictional biographies and children’s stories.

James died on 30th November 1953 and Kathleen died on 29th March 1958 at St. George’s Hospital in London.  

Here is one of Kathleen's poems "Died of Wounds" from  “Lost City Verses” (Heffer, Cambridge, 1918)

Because you are dead, so many words they say,

If you could hear them, how they crowd, they crowd;

“Dying for England – but you must be proud” –

And “Greater love, honour, a debt to pay”,

And “Cry, dear”, someone says; and someone, “Pray!”

What do they mean, their words that throng so loud?

This, dearest; that for us there will not be

Laughter and joy of living dwindling cold,

Ashes of words that dropped in flame, first told;

Stale tenderness, made foolish suddenly.

This only, heart’s desire, for you and me,

We who lived love, will not see love grow old.

We who had morning time and crest o’the wave

Will have no twilight chill after the gleam,

Nor for any ebb-tide with a sluggish stream;

No, nor clutch wisdom as a thing to save.

We keep for ever (and yet they call me brave)

Untouched, unbroken, unrebuilt, our dream.


Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, new York, 1978) pp. 6, 11 and  326.

Michael Copp.- “Cambridge Poets of The Great War: An Anthology” (Associated University Presses, 2001) pp. 52 and 247.