Friday 31 December 2021

Blanche Elizabeth Wade (1872 - ?) American author and poet

With thanks to Philippe Clerbout who very kindly found this WW1 poem for us.


The poem, entitled “Bre(a)d to the Colors”, was written by Blanche Elizabeth Wade and published in the June/July, 1918 issue of "American Cookery" magazine. As far as I can ascertain, Blanche was the only daughter of American author, poet and pictorial photographer Elizabeth Flint Wade (1849–1915) - Flint being her maiden name - and her husband, Frank Abernathy Wade.  Blanche Elizabeth was born in 1872 and became the author of several popular books.

"American Cookery" was a monthly (except for July and August) journal published in New York, USA that began publishing under that title in 1914, succeeding "The Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics" and continuing its volume numbering. It ran until 1946.

If anyone knows more about Blanche Elizabeth Wade please get in touch.

Friday 10 December 2021

Emma Backhouse (1860 - 1946) - British poet

With thanks to Chris Dubbs for finding out when Tom went to America

and which of his brother accompanied him.

I am currently reading a very interesting book called “Reported Missing in the Great War: 100 years of searching for the truth” by John Broom (Pen & Sword Military, 2020). There, I discovered a female poet hitherto unknown to me - Emma Backhouse.  

Emma was born Emma Tate on 16th October 1860 in Shadwell, Yorkshire, UK. She married William Backhouse, a coal and clay miner, in Leeds in December 1881 and the couple had 8 children. Two of their sons - Tom - b. 1885 or 1886, and George Harry, b. circa 1890 - went to live in the United States of America and became naturalised citizens in 1913.  

Tom Backhouse joined the American forces in WW1 and was  killed in action while serving in the Argonne with the 325 Infantry, 82nd Division of the U.S. Army.  (pp. 36 – 38).   His body was repatriated to Britain because he served with the U.S. Army - which is why he was included in the book.  

I am trying to find out more about Emma and her family.  During WW1 Emma wrote poems “which she had printed on postcards and sold to passers-by in Leeds city centre.  The money she raised was used to fund three spinal chairs and a bed rest in Seacroft Hospital for convalescing soldiers  Her work “won widespread praise, including letters from Princess Mary, the Prince of Wales and Lord Kitchener”.  

Here is an extract from one of Emma's wartime poems:

from “Lest we Forget” written by Emma Backhouse in 1917 

This is no time for dreaming,

No time for idle scorn;

All should be up and doing,

To cheer some heart folorn

For while our lads are fighting

On land and sea to-day,

Our thoughts should all be centred,

On each one far away

Dear friends I often wonder

When you pass through City Square,

If you notice all the heroes

That are oft assembled there?

Have you watched our gallant heroes,

How they smile and murmur not?

Tis out duty now to help them,

They should never be forgot.

I am hoping to find further information and if possible a photograph. If anyone can help please get in touch.

With grateful thanks to Chris Dubbs for finding out which of Tom's brothers accompanied him to America., and confirming that he joined the American Army in WW1.  Shris Dubbs is the author of two books about American women journalists in WW1:

and "American Women Report World War 1". 

Sunday 31 October 2021

Dora Maria Sigerson Shorter (1866 – 1918) – Irish poet, artist and sculptor

With thanks to Dr Margaret Stetz for reminding me that I had not yet researched Dora who is on the List  of Female Poets of the First World War under Ireland.

Dora by John Lavery
Dora Maria Sigerson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1866 - the eldest of four children born to George Sigerson, a surgeon and writer, and his wife Hester Varian, who was also a writer. Dora’s siblings were Hester, William and George - both the boys died young.  Dora’s Father was a Professor of Biology and President of the Irish Literary Society. 

The Sigerson family home was at 3 Clare Street, Dublin and was a gathering-place for artists and writers. As she grew up, Dora met many important figures of the emerging Irish literary revival at parties given by her parents. She studied at the Dublin School of Art at the same time as W.B. Yeats. Dora had several of her collections of poetry published, beginning with “Verses” in 1893. Her sister, later called Hester Sigerson Piatt also became a writer. 

In September 1896, Dora married English journalist and literary critic Clement King Shorter (1857 – 1926) in Hampstead, London. The couple lived in Marylebone, London until her death on 6th January 1918.  Dora then wrote using the name Dora Sigerson Shorter.

In 1900, at the height of the Boer War, Clement founded and became the first Editor of “The Sphere” newspaper. “The Sphere" was an illustrated newspaper for the home, published by London Illustrated Newspapers weekly from 27th January 1900 until the closure of the paper on 27th June 1964. DuringThe First World War, the weekly papers were called 'war numbers' and over two hundred issues were published between 1914 and 1919.

"The Sphere" 1914

According to Catherine W. Reilly, Dora Sigerson Shorter wrote several collections of war poems during WW1:

 “Comfort the Women, A Prayer in Time of War” (1915), which was reprinted from “The Daily Telegraph” of 27th February 1915 in a limited edition of 20 copies by Dora’s husband for distribution to friends.

“An Old Proverb ‘It will all be the same in a thousand years’ ” (1916), a limited edition of 25 copies printed privately by Clement Shorter and first published in “The Nation” of 20th May 1916.

“The Sad Years and other poems” (Constable, 1918) a limited edition of 50 copies printed for private circulation.

“The Tricolour: poems of the Irish Revolution” (Maunsel & Roberts, Dublin, 1922).

 Dora had 3 poems published in the WW1 Anthology “The Paths of Glory: A Collection of Poems written during the War, 1914 – 1918”, Edited by Bertram Lloyd (Allen & Unwin, London, 1919), which is available to read as a free download on Archive

 “AN OLD PROVERB” a poem by Dora Sigerson Shorter published in “The Paths of Glory” pp. 104 - 107   "It will be all the same in a thousand years." 

AND in a thousand years 

It will be all the same, 

Whether or no 

Women's tears flow, 

Or battles take us 

To save or to break us, 

Or man against man 

Advance but a span ; 

Hideous in anger. 

Tame in death's languor, 

Shouting and crying. 

Sobbing and dying, 

On the red fields of war ; 

Calling on those afar. 

Mother and child and wife 

There in the midst of strife. 

God, the earth shakes with it ! 

Down in the hellish pit, 

Where the red river ran, 

Hatred of man to man ; 

Maddened they rush to kill, 

That but their single will ; 

Strangle or bayonet him ! 

Trample him life and limb 

Into the awful mire ; 

Break him with knife or fire ! 

So that we know he lie 

Dead to the smiling sky. 

And in a thousand years 

It will be all the same. 

Which of us was to blame ? 

What will it matter then ? 

Over the sleeping men 

Grass will so softly grow 

No one would ever know 

Of the dark crimson stain. 

Of all the hate and pain 

That once had fearful birth 

In the black secret earth. 

Ah ! in a thousand years 

Time will forget our tears. 

Babes in their golden hour 

Seeking some hidden flower 

Will, in those years afar, 

Play on the fields of war ; 

And as they laughing roam 

Mothers will call them home ; 

Laden with fruit and flower 

Run they at twilight hour. 

Cattle will, lowing, stray, 

Little lambs frisk and play, 

Birds nest in hedge and tree, 

All in Time's victory. 

Dark o' night, dawn o' day, 

Dark o' night, dawn o' day. 

Thus in a thousand years 

Time will forget our tears, 

And the lost fields of war ; 

In the good years afar 

When the lads silent lie, 

When women's tears are dry. 

All the wives comforted. 

All the maid's grief is shed, 

Crying babes safe and still 

Sleeping in vale and hill, 

Sobbing of men is mute, 

And scream of dying brute, 

On the red fields of war. 

In those good years afar. 

Only the waving grass. 

Where the shy children pass 

Seeking the hidden flower. 

Glad in their golden hour. 

And as they laughing roam 

Mothers will call them home. 

Laden with fruit or flower 

Run they at twilight hour. 

Over the meadow grass 

Slow the moon's shadows pass. 

Only the chirp of bird 

From the deep hedge is heard. 

This in a thousand years 

Payment of blood and tears, 

Horrors we dare not name, 

It will be all the same. 

What is the value then 

To all those sleeping men ? 

It will be all the same, 

Passion and grief and blame. 

This in the years to be, 

My God, the tragedy !

DORA SIGERSON (MRS. SHORTER) published in her collection  "The Sad Years."  (London : Constable & Co., Ltd., 1918. 58.)

Sources: Wikipedia, Find my Past, Free BMD and Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) pp. 292 and 19.


Saturday 9 October 2021

Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne (1869-1931) – British poet

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for reminding me

that I had not fully researched Elizabeth and for finding the poem, photograph

and cover of one of Elizabeth's collections featured here.

Elizabeth Gibson was born in Hexham, Northumberland, UK in January 1869, the birth being registered in the first quarter of the year and the Baptism taking place on 16th January 1869.  Elizabeth’s parents were John Pattison Gibson, a chemist, and his wife, Judith Frances, nee Walton (1836 - 1902), who were married in September 1861.

Elizabeth had the following siblings: Frances, b. 1864, Clara, b. 1866, John, b. 1872, Constance, b. 1873, Anna, b. 1874, Mary, b. 1876, Wilfrid, b. 1879 and Muriel, b. 1880.   Wilfrid also became a poet.

By 1911, Elizabeth described herself in the Census return as an author.

In September 191, Elizabeth married Thomas Kelly Cheyne in Falmouth. Thomas Kelly Cheyne, FBA (18 September 1841 – 1915) was an English divine and Biblical critic.  She then used the name Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne for her writing.

"A Poet to His Poems"  (1915) by Elizabeth Gibson Cheyne (1869-1931)

published in the magazine “Poetry”, September 1915.

You are born; you are no more mine:

I have let you go forever.

Demoniac or divine,

You shall sail by sea and river;


You shall walk by road and track;

You shall fly through wind and weather;

But nevermore come back,

That our hearts may laugh together.

There is an excellent biography of Elizabeth written by Judy Greenway

Debbie Cameron’s Facebook Group Remembering British Women in WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas is well worth perusing

Monday 4 October 2021

Hester Gatty (1906 - 1973) – British poet and artist who married WW1 soldier poet Siegfried Sassoon

Hester Gatty
Hester Gatty was born In Kensington, London, UK on 16th March 1906. Her parents were Sir Stephen Herbert Gatty and his second wife, Kathleen, nee Morrison. 

Sir Stephen Herbert Gatty (1849-1922) was son of the children's author, Margaret Scott Gatty (herself the daughter of Nelson's confidential secretary and chaplain, Dr Scott) and brother of the writer Juliana Horatia Ewing and herald Alfred Scott Gatty.  Sir Stephen was the Chief Justice of Gibraltar from 16th  January 1895 to 1905 and was formerly a judge of the Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements. On 19th December 1904, he was named a Knight Bachelor.

Hester’s siblings were Oliver Gatty (1907-1940) and Richard Gatty (1909-1975).

“Ventures in Verse by Members of the Scratch Society” was a selection of 31 poems published in December 1924 by Arthur H. Stockwell.   The poems included were written mainly by women authors, though there are three by a Michael Dugdale. Hester Gatty (later Siegfried Sassoon’s wife), was a member of the Society and she has three poems in this book, “From the Hebrides,” “Tired” and “Moon-Beam.” 

The Scratch Society was a group of poets and story writers who formed this society, et regularly in each other's homes and occasionally got their work into print.  Members of the Scratch Society included Georgina Blakiston, Jan Struther and Nancy Cunard.  Evelyn Waugh, Cyril Connolly and John Betjman also attended meetings.  American singer Paul Robeson visited once.

Source:  A post written by David Gray of Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and posted on the Fellowship's Facebook page.

Here is one of the poems wriitten by Hester and included in the collection: 

I would love to know if Hester wrote any poetry when she was a schoolgirl during the First World War. As some of you may know, I have been collecting poetry written by schoolchildren during 1914 - 1919 and in March 2018 held an exhibition about some of them.  Here is a link to a news report about the opening of the exhibition of Poetry written by Schoolchildren during WW1 at the Wilfred Owen Story, Wirral on 17th March 2018:

Exhibition of Poetry written by
Schoolchildren, The Wilfred Owen Story, Wirral,
March 2018

A poem written during WW1 in honour of "The Lads of Heywood" by a Miss E.H. Bisby, aged twelve

 Miss E.H. Bisby age 12   “The Lads of Heywood” poem 

A poem entitled "The Lads of Heywood" found on Facebook written by Miss E.H. Bisby, aged 12

Heywood is in Greater Manchester.

According to my research, there is a birth recorded for an Edith Harriet Bisby in the first quarter of 1903. She was born in Bispham, Blackpool, Lancashire - Mother’s maiden name Heywood.  I wonder if that was the writer of the poem?

Here is the 1911 Census for the Bisby family.  

1911 Census For England & Wales

9 Wild Street Heywood, Heywood, Lancashire, England

Household members (4 people)

First name(s) Last name Relationship Marital status Sex Age Birth year Occupation Birth place

Ambrose Robert Bisby Head Married Male 45 1866 Superintendent insurance co Tunstall Staffordshire

Emma Bisby Wife Married Female 48 1863 - Heywood Lancashire

Robert Heywood Bisby Son Single Male 18 1893 Peicer cotton mill mule Heywood Lancashire

Edith Harret Bisby Daughter - Female 8 1903 - Bispham Blackpool Lanc

If anyone knows anything please get in touch. 

Sunday 3 October 2021

Catherine Amy Dawson Scott (1865 – 1934 - British writer, playwright and poet.

Catherine is perhaps best known as a co-founder of International PEN, a worldwide association of writers.  Although she was a poet I have not yet been able to find any of Catherine's poems

Catherine Amy Dawson was born in August 1865. Her parents were  Ebenezer Dawson, a brick manufacturer and his wife Catherine, nee Armstrong.  Catherine had a sister - Ellen M. Dawson - born in 1868. The Journalist, writer, novelist and poet Henry Dawson Lowry (22 February 1869 – 21 October 1906) was their cousin. Amy and Ellen’s mother died in January 1877.   In 1878, their father remarried. According to the 1881 Census, the girls and their stepmother were living or staying with her widowed mother, Sarah Ancell, in Camberwell, where Catherine A. Dawson graduated from The Anglo German College

When she was eighteen, Catherine began working as a secretary. In June 1896, Catherine married Dr. Horatio Francis Ninian Scott. They lived in Hanover Square in London, where their first child, Marjorie Catharine Waiora Scott, was born in 1899 and a son, Horatio Christopher L. Scott, was born in March 1901. The family moved to West Cowes on the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1902, where they lived for the next seven years. Another child, Edward Walter Lucas Scott, nicknamed Toby, was born in June 1904.

At the start of the First World War, Dr Scott volunteered to join the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) and was posted to France.   Meanwhile, with the help of the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, Catherine founded The Women’s Defence Relief Corps in August 1914.   

When Catherine and her husband returned from their wartime service, they found it impossible to resume their relationship as before, after the traumatic (and empowering, for Catherine) experiences of the war.  They were divorced and Dr. Scott commited suicide in 1922.

If anyone can help find poems by Catherine please get in touch. 

Sunday 19 September 2021

Isobel Wylie Hutchison (1889 - 1982) - Scottish writer, poet, artist, Arctic traveller and botanist

 With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for sending me the

poem that set me off researching Isobel Wylie Hutchison

Portrait of Isobel in 1935
by David Foggie RSA
Isobel Wylie Hutchison was born in Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Scotland, on 30th May 1889.   Her parents were Thomas Hutchison, who had been a merchant with the East India Company, and his wife, Jeannie, nee Wylie. The family home was Carlowrie Castle, Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Scotland.   Isobel began writing at an early age, kept diaries from 1903, and edited "The Scribbler", a magazine created by the family. Isobel learnt Italian, Gaelic, Greek, Hebrew, Danish, Icelandic, Greenlandic and also learnt some Inuit words.

Isobel's youngest brother, Frank, (Francis J. b. 1897) died in 1912 at the age of 16 in a climbing accident in the Cairngorms and his loss affected her deeply. Another brother, Thomas Walter, (b. 1886) was killed in the First World War.

From 1917 to 1918, Hutchison studied business training, marketing, religion and languages, at Studley College in Warwickshire, which had been set up for the education of young women in agriculture. During 1918, things were very bad, with little food for the animals and all the men gone to the war. Influenza swept through the college and some students died. 

In 1920, Isobel suffered a mental breakdown but was sustained by her continued success with her writing - her poetry was acclaimed by “The Scotsman” newspaper and she began writing a novel.  She began travelling in 1924 and painted many scenes from her adventures, visiting the Arctic, apan, China, Trans-Siberian Railway, Moscow, Poland, Berlin, Estonia and Denmark.

After the Second World War, Isobel gave talks on the radio for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). Carlowrie Castle was very run down after the war, having been used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Isolbel needed to continue working in order to pay for repairs and maintenance. Electricity was only installed there in 1951.

In later life Isobel suffered from Arthritis, but this did not stop her working.  She died at Carlowrie Cast;e in 1982, aged 92 and is buried in the northern cemetery in Kirkliston, along with her sister, Hilda Scott Primrose Hutchison (b. 1892).

Isobel’s WW1 poetry collection, “Lyrics from West Lothian” (Pillans & Wilson, 1916), was privately p rinted and sold in aid of the Red Cross Fund and she had a poem published in "A book of twentieth-century Scots verse" Edited by William Robb and published by Gowans & Gray in 1925.

“A Book of Twentieth-century Scots Verse” Edited by William Robb (Gowans & Gray, 1925)

 Her other poetry collections were:

How Joy was found: A Fantasy in Verse in Five Acts. London: Blackie; New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1917

The Calling of the Bride. Stirling: E. Mackay, 1926

The Song of the Bride. London: De La More, 1927

The Northern Gate. London: De La More, 1927

Lyrics from Greenland. London: Blackie, 1935

Other works by Isobel Wylie Hutchison:

Original Companions. London: Bodley Head, 1929

The Eagle's Gift: Alaska Eskimo Tales. New York: Doubleday Doran, 1932

Flowers and Farming in Greenland. Edinburgh: T. A. Constable, 1930

On Greenland’s Closed Shore: The Fairyland of the Arctic. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1930

North to the Rime-Ringed Sun: Being a Record of an Alaska-Canadian Journey Made in 1933-34. London: Blackie, 1934, 1935; New York: Hillman-Curl, 1937

With August Masik: Arctic Nights Entertainment: Being the Narrative of an Alaskan Estonian Digger, August Masik, as told to Isobel Wylie Hutchison. Glasgow: Blackie, 1935

Stepping Stones from Alaska to Asia. London: Blackie, 1937

She had articles published in  the WNational Geographic" magazine:

"Walking Tour across Iceland", April 1928

"Riddle of the Aleutians", December 1942

"Scotland in Wartime", June 1943

"Wales in Wartime", June 1944

"Bonnie Scotland, Post-war Style", May 1946

"2000 Miles through Europe’s Oldest Kingdom", February 1949

"A Stroll to London", August 1950

"A Stroll to Venice", September 1951

"Shetland and Orkney, Britain’s Far North", October 1953

"From Barra to Butt in the Hebrides", October 1954

"A Stroll to John o' Groats", July 1956

"Poets' Voices Linger in Scottish Shrines", October 1957

Isobel had several other articles published in many journals and newspapers. and gave more than 500 lectures during the course of her life. The plants she collected during travels are in Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and the British Museum. Some of the artefacts she collected are on display in the National Museum of Scotland and the Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge).


Find my Past

Reilly,Catherine W.  "English Poetry of the First World War: A Biblioigraphy" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 177 and p. 25.

Hoyle, Gwyneth “Flowers in the Snow: the Life of Isobel Wylie Hutchison” (Nebraska University Press, 2001). 

Portrait of Isobel in 1935 by David Foggie RSA (31 December 1878 Dundee – 2 June 1948)

Poem from “The Westminster Gazette” 3 November 1916

"The Westminster Gazette" was a Liberal newspaper based in London, founded in 1893. It was known for publishing sketches and short stories, including early works by Raymond Chandler, Anthony Hope, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, and Saki, and travel writing by Rupert Brooke. One of its editors was caricaturist and political cartoonist Francis Carruthers Gould. The paper was dubbed the "pea-green incorruptible" – Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone having personally approved its green colour. It was merged into its leading Liberal rival, The Daily News on 1 February 1928.

Friday 20 August 2021

Mary Lloyd McConnel (1860 - 1957) – poet and writer

Grateful thanks to Jim Marshall of the Harlech Old Library in Wales who sent  me a copy of the cover of one of Mary's collections. Additional information kindly supplied by Jose Holford @JosieHolford via Twitter

Mary Lloyd was born on 28th December 1860.  She married John McConnel, of Yorkshire and they lived in Larkfield, Ilkley, Yorkshire. Mary met Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Concord, New Hampshire, USA:  

"In 1904, Mrs. Mary Lloyd McConnel, of Ilkley, England, was in First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Concord, New Hampshire, when Mrs. Eddy spoke there..."

On the 1939 Census, Mary is listed as widowed and living at Larkfield, Skipton Rd. Ilkley, Yorkshire. She listed her occupation as a "Christian Science Practitioner".  Mary died on 19th March 1957. 

Mary’s WW1 collections were:

“Songs In The Night” by Mary Lloyd McConnel published in 1920 by William Walker & Sons Ltd. - 72 pages of poems.

“Songs of Aftermath” by Mary LLoyd McConnel published by William Walker and Sons Ltd., January 1927  - see cover photo kindly sent by Jim Maxwell.

Mary seems to have published two collections of poems about WW1:

“Songs In The Night” by Mary Lloyd McConnel published in 1920 by William Walker & Sons Ltd. - 72 pages of poems.

“Songs of Aftermath” by Mary LLoyd McConnel published by William Walker and Sons Ltd., January 1927 - see cover left kindly sent by Jim Maxwell.

Mary Lloyd McConnel also seems to have written for the "The Christian Science Monitor", as the following poem was published by them.   She is not listed in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978).  If anyone can help please get in touch.  The Christian Science Monitor was a daily newspaper founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ Scientist.

"There is no death!" a poem by Mary Lloyd McConnel

O Death! At home they call it death —

And sit and weep because they think

Their sons beloved are slain, 

And they are left alone

To mourn their dead.

While we, across the trenches' top,

Have leaped to Life, and find

We have but left behind

The rags and blood and dirt

Of grimy battle field, and —

A great host of us,

All eager, happy, and alive —

Are pressing onwards toward a goal

We dimly see of duty, beauty,

Love, and Life, which calls us on

To tasks more glorious than

We could achieve midst stress

And storm and reek of cannon smoke.

Hark! You can hear us calling

From each to each a greeting

As we meet, — comrades and erstwhile foe.

"Friend! Is this all to death?

Why should we ever fear

This passing through a shadow

Which but seems a moment's shock,

As though we had but bowed our heads

To pass beneath a narrow doorway

From some dugout small, and found

Ourselves a little blinded by the light

Which shines from Heaven's eternal day?

 ou here! — You too! — And you!

 How glad we are to find

 Each other, and to prove

 There is no death!"

By Mary Lloyd McConnel

[Originally published in The Christian Science Monitor]

Christian Science Sentinel, September 21, 1918

"Unfoldment" by Mary Lloyd McConnel

There was a small community of Christian Scientists meeting in a humble "upper chamber." None were rich in this world's goods, but all were eager that everything pertaining to the services should reflect beauty and harmony. Although no rule was made, a tacit understanding existed that little expenditure was to be incurred for flowers, as funds could be employed to better advantage in furthering the cause of library and distribution work. At the beginning of each season a list was made of the women attending the services, and each one was to be responsible for one Sunday's floral offering.

Through this channel came to one woman an unlooked for opportunity in the practical development of her own garden. She had relied upon the periodical visits of a gardener, and so long as things looked neat she had remained content to imagine herself too busy in other ways to spare time or attention for out of doors. However, as the weeks went by she began to wonder what her garden would produce by the time her name appeared upon the "flower list." In looking around she discovered greater possibilities than she had known to exist, and soon found that the more she cut and gave away the more profusely her flowers bloomed, and that in sharing her garden with friends and neighbors she was learning to enjoy it as she had never done before.

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Isa Constance Miles (1881 – 1962) - Poet and writer - pen names Marjory Damon and Marjory Royce

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this poet for us.

Debbie has a Facebook page commemorating the women of WW1

Photograph of Isa found by
'Majory Royce' was one of the pen names used by Isa Constance Nicoll, who was born in Kelso, Scotland on 22nd June 1881. Her parents were Sir William Robertson Nicoll (1851 – 1923 -  a Scottish Free Church minister, journalist, editor, and man of letters - who founded the “British Weekly”, a Nonconformist newspaper, with the help of publishers Hodder and Stoughton), and his wife, Isabella, nee Dunlop (1857–1894).  Isa’s brother was Henry Maurice Dunlop Nicoll (1884 –1953), who became a noted psychiatrist.  After the death of their mother in 1894, their father married Catherine Pollard (1863–1960) and Isa and Henry had a half-sister - Mildred Robertson Nicoll (1898–1995).


Isa grew up in Hampstead, London, where the family lived after Sir William's health necessitated retirement from the church. In 1909, she married Elystan Miles, who was at that time a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, and the couple lived in Eltham in south east London, and in Hampshire. In addition to the children's fiction, which Isa wrote and published using her pen name Marjory Royce, she also wrote and published work using her married name - Constance Miles.  On the 1939 Census, Isa and her husband were living in Shere in Guildford, Surrey and she listed her occupation as Journalist.  

Isa died on 22nd January 1962. 


 YOU, who have always loved the garden so, 

Oh, Mother, are you wandering there to-night? 

While yet the July roses blush and blow, 

And the tall border blooms in the fading light. 

The lovely corners that I used to know — 

I think them over, I remember well .... 

Down in this old dug-out, time passes slow 

Amid the hum and screaming of the shell. 

Through all the sadness there's one thought to cheer- 

That English gardens still in peace may grow 

Tranquil and safe. You are still happy, dear. 

You, who have always loved the garden so ! 

From "One hundred of the best poems on the European War by Women Poets of the Empire" .- Edited by Forshaw, Charles Frederick (Elliott Stock, London, 1916) p. 138

which is available to read as a free download from Archive:


Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) page 280  listed as Marjory Royce 
Find my past
Free BMD  
and Debbie Cameron 

Interestingly, under the surname Miles in her Bibliography of WW1 English poetry, Reilly also lists
Miles – pen name of Osbert Sitwell - Reilly p. 224

Patrick Miles – poet - Reilly p. 224

Susan Miles - pen name of Ursula Roberts - Reilly p. 224

Monday 2 August 2021

Ethel Carnie (1886 - 1962) – British writer, poet and activist

It is always exciting to discover a hitherto unknown poet. With thanks to  Historian Debbie Cameron for this information and for additional information to Lizbet Tobin on Debbie’s Facebook Page Remembering British Women In WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas    

Ethel was born in Oswaldwhistle in Lancashire, UK, the birth being registered in Blackburn, Lancashire in the first quarter of 1886.  Her parents were David Carnie and his wife, Louisa Carnie, nee Entwisle.  Ethel had a brother, Rupert, who was born in 1888.  All the Carnie family members worked in Lancashire’s cotton industry.  Ethel began writing at an early age.  She was educated at Great Harwood British School from 1892 until 1899, where she showed promise in composition and teachers frequently read her essays aloud to the rest of the class.  Working in the mills from the age of eleven, Ethel  became a poet, journalist, children’s writer and novelist.  She was a prolific writer, publishing at least ten novels and writing and publishing poetry. 

By 1911, Ethel was living in Great Harwood, Lancashire with her mother  and described herself as a cotton cop winder and journalist.  In June 1915, Ethel married Alfred Holdsworth.

Although he shared his wife’s socialist and anti-war views and may have applied for exemption on conscientious grounds, Alfred enlisted in the East Lancashire Regiment and was posted to the Western Front in 1917. Ethel was a socialist, a pacifist and anti conscription. She carried a red flag to the railway station to see her husband off. Ten months later, in 1918, he was reported missing, presumed dead. Later that year, Alfred was discovered alive in a British hospital, having been transferred from a prisoner of war camp.

A poem by Ethel Carnie that Debbie Cameron found in magazine “The Woman Worker”, the magazine of the Federaton of Women Workers.

Ethel protested against the introduction of conscription in WWI, addressed 20,000 women during the Women’s Peace Crusade and chaired local meetings of the British Citizen Party.   After her marriage, Ethel used her married name when writing.

During the 1920s Ethel edited and produced “The Clear Light”, an anti-fascist journal, with her husband.  She recognised the threat of Mussolini in the early 1930s. 

Dr Kathleen Bell is one of the leading figures in the campaign to introduce the work of the long-forgotten writer to a new generation. She writes that:

“at its best, Holdsworth’s poetry illuminates the gap between working-class people’s desire for liberty, often evident in their imaginative capacity, and the constraints and suffering of their lives”.

Ethel’s novel “Helen of Four Gates” (1917) was filmed in 1920. Lizbet Tobin discovered that prints exist in the Cinémathèque Québécoise film archive [35mm positive], and in the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House film archive [16mm reduction positive] and that there is a clip available:

Published works by Ethel:

Rhymes from the Factory (Blackburn: Denham, 1907)

Songs of a Factory Girl (London: Headley Brothers, 1911)

The Lamp Girl, and other stories (London: Headley Brothers, 1913)

Miss Nobody (London: Methuen, 1913) (Reprinted with new Introduction: Kennedy & Boyd, 2013)

Voices of Womanhood (London: Headley Brothers, 1914)

Helen of Four Gates (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1917) (Reprinted with new Introduction: Kennedy & Boyd, 2016)

The Taming of Nan (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1919)

The Marriage of Elizabeth (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1920)

The House that Jill Built (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1920)

General Belinda (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1924) (Reprinted with new Introduction: Kennedy & Boyd, 2019)

This Slavery (London: Labour Publishing Company, 1925)

The Quest of the Golden Garter (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1927)

Eagles' Crag (London: Stanley Paul, 1928)

Barbara Dennison (London: Stanley Paul, 1929)


Roger Smalley Uclan Thesis

Tuesday 6 July 2021

Catherine Wells (1872 – 1927) - British writer and poet

With thanks to Henry Gott of Blackwells Rare Books in Oxford for suggesting I

research Catherine, to Julie Cauvin who confirmed that the Red Cross WW1

Record card is indeed for Catherine Wells, wife of H.G. Wells, and to David Gray

for additional information

Photograph of Catherine
from her Book

Catherine was born Amy Catherine Robbins in Islington, London, UK on 8th July 1872.   Her parents were Frederick and Maria Catherine Robbins.   Catherine, who was known as Jane, was a student of Herbert George ( H.G.) Wells during his time as a teacher.  They were married in St. Pancras, London in 1895 – she was his second wife.  Jane died on 6th October 1927, in Dunmow, at the age of 55.

After Catherine’s death in 1927, H.G. Wells had her poetry and short story collection published under the title “The Book of Catherine Wells”, which was published by Chatto & Windus in 1928.  Several of her poems relate to WW1:

“Spring 1915”

Spring, dear Spring,

Dear Beauty !

You come with soft feet

Bringing your old, immortal joys

That have given us in all our years

Delight so exquisite.

You spread your loveliness before us –

A tender veil!

As if in kindness you had hung a curtain

Thick fold upon thick fold unstintingly

To stop our hearing how a madman

Raves, in the next room.

It is n o good, dear beauty of the earth !

Tearing great rents athwart you

Come the screams of war.

(page 199)

“June 1916”

Last night I dreamed.

In the void of space

Stood three great Archangels with pitiless eyes

About an armoured monster in their midst;

A brutal shape that spat impotent fire

At their bright immortality.

‘He must be beaten our of life,’ they cried;

‘He is War.’

And as I looked came multitudes

Carrying their all, and heaped upon the brute

Each staggering load, blow after blow, until he lay

Writing beneath a monstrous heap of treasure

And brave bodies of men, and women’s tears

That ran down the heap of pearls.

And still the angels cried, ‘More yet ! more yet !

Not yet is there enough !’ Again

The people toiled with fast diminishing loads

Until they had no more to give.

It seemed enough, until a tiny chink

Showed in the heap.

‘One thing more,’ they cried, ‘and ye have done !’

‘We have no more,’ the people wept.  And then

The angels turned, and each his finger held

Straight aimed at me, and called in unison,

‘Thy son ! ‘

(page 200)

Daily here my body sits, 

My fingers tearing bandage strips,

My drilled eyes watch the pattern fits,

My agile scissor cuts and snips,

But truant Brain leaps out at play

And flies to some pellucid day

And suddenly I seem to hear

A sea maid singing at my ear

And straight am with her on a strand

Of cockle shells and pearly sand.

Where rainbows crown the leaping surf

And green weed wraps the rocks with turf.

We wreathe her yellow hair with weed

And play with coriander seed

And coral beads and horns of pearl -

The while that here my body sits,

My fingers tearing bandage strips.

(From "The Book of Catherine Wells" - short stories and poems - published in 1928 after Catherine's death by Chatto and Windus, London, 1928, pages 199, 200 and 201). Catherine's poem "Red Cross Workroom; 1917" appears to tell us about her contribution to the war effort. 

WW1 Red Cross Record card for Mrs H.G. Wells - From Julie Cauvin:  “Catherine did a Red Cross course: From the Boston Review blog spot ‘...She had gone through a Red Cross course so as to be competent in domestic emergencies. She had a file of shop addresses where things needed could be bought. Her garden was a continually glowing success...’ The Wells family lived at Easton Glebe - Besides his home in London, Wells rented Easton Glebe, Dunmow, Essex, on the Easton Lodge estate, between 1910 and 1928.”  

On the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship Facebook page on 20 June 2021, David Gray says:

“Flicking through a volume written by H. G. Wells from Siegfried Sassoon’s library, I found a small, printed booklet being the Eulogy by Wells for his wife Catherine. I’m guessing Sassoon slipped it into the book after attending the service.”

  Sources:  Find my Past,

"The Book of Catherine Wells" - short stories and poems - published in 1928 after Catherine's death by Chatto and Windus, London, 1928

British Red Cross WW1 Record card for Mrs H.G. Wells

Monday 5 July 2021

Matilda Betham-Edwards (1836 – 1919) – British poet, writer, novelist

Matilda was born on 4th March 1836 in Westerfield, Suffolk.  She was the fourth daughter of Edward Edwards, a farmer, (c. 1808–1864) and his wife Barbara (1806–1848), nee Betham, whose father, the Reverend William Betham, was an antiquary and cleric. 

Matilda’s aunt was the artist, poet and novelist Matilda Beetham (1776 – 1852).  Matilda later wrote about her aunt in her book “Six Life Studies of Famous Women” (1880).  Matilda was educated in Ipswich and as a governess-pupil at a school in London.   She studied French and German in France and Germany and went on to write travel books.  After the death of their father, Matilda and her sister managed the family’s farm.   

Matilda was friends with Charles Dickens and with Charles and Mary Lamb, who were friends of her Mother’s.

Catherine W. Reilly tells us that Matilda published a volume of poetry during the First World War – “War Poems” (Arrowsmith, Bristol, 1917) – 24 pages.  According to Reilly, a copy of that collection is held by Manchester Public Libraries.  Matilda also wrote an account of the German occupation of Alsace – “Hearts of Alsace” (1916).

“The Two Mothers” by Matilda Betham-Edwards

‘Poor woman, weeping as they pass,

Yon brave recruits, the nation’s pride,

You mourn some gallant boy, alas!

Like mine who lately fought and died?’

‘Kind stranger, not for soldier son,

Of shame, not grief my heart will break

Three stalwards have I, but not one

Doth risk his life for England’s sake!’

Published in the “Westminster Gazette” on 11th December 1914. 

“War Poems” was the last poetry collection Matilda had published. It was inspired by the events of the First World War and some of the poems focus on theAlsace region of France. Most of the poems in the collection are patriotic and encourage men to join the fight, as shown by this extract from “No Son of Mine”(1915): 

“From over-sea thy brethren hie, 

Great England’s sons, not these home-born, 

Whilst thou by thousands let’st them die 

Thyself, unharmed, the butt of scorn!”. 

Matilda died on 4th January 1919 in Hastings, Sussex. 


Find my Past

Hibberd, Dominic and Onions, John, Editors.- “The Winter of the World Poems of the First World War” (Constable & Robinson, London, 2007)

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

There is a Biography of Matilda Betham Edwards written by Professor Joan Rees and published in 2006.  

Booksellers Jonathan Frost Rare Books Ltd. have a copy of Matilda’s WW1 poetry collection listed in their July 2021 Catalogue

Monday 28 June 2021

Henriette Tayler (1869 - 1951) – WW1 poet and nurse

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this information for us  

Helen Agnes Henrietta Tayler was born in Chelsea, London, UK in 1869. Her parents were William James Tayler, Laird of Glenbarry, and his wife, Georgina Lucy, nee Duff.  Known to family and friends as Hetty, her siblings were an elder sister, Constance and a younger brother, Alistair.  The family lived in London but every summer they travelled up to William Tayler’s childhood home - Rothiemay House, near Huntly in Aberdeenshire.

Henriette served with the French Red Cross during WW1.  After the war, she served in Italy, nursing civilians and servicemen suffering from 'Spanish flu'. She wrote her story - “A Scottish Nurse at Work: Being a Record of what One Semi-trained Nurse Has Been Privileged to See and Do During Four and a Half Years of War”  In Hetty's own words: ‘We did all our work in eucalyptus masks and everything was disinfected, even our letters.”

Maggie Craig has written a new book about Scottish nurse Henrietta Tayler.

With thanks to Lizbet Tobin and Eric Webb for additional information.

Henriette'a poem

Sources:  Find my Past]-R&c[0]=AT1FmUfOmMqoSQfh_NqeokPVAfGfcSqH0KZivzVclMZ1y1Po2TyTV3HqszAE67RB52g54Rmt42sFsf6GHKaqVZGoPgZmUEK_qgS2O8Abclf9XJoBbNcj_OSp9Y8Jdt97X1gubrisPF2fDfFvIc6IrFMoneupr3XZCG35h-7e2Je8bWkaAptrMxSIMa3-0KfqzNBmb1Eb

Friday 25 June 2021

Inez Quilter (1904 – 1978) – British schoolgirl WW1 poet

With thanks to John Seriot for reminding me I had not posted this, though Inez is included in Volume 2 of Female Poets of the First World War

Inez was born on 22nd January 1904.  Her parents were Sir William Eley Cuthbert Quilter, Second Baronet and MP for Sudbury, and his wife, Gwynedd Quilter, nee Douglas-Pennant.

Her paternal grandfather – Sir Cuthbert Quilter – was one of the founders of the “National Telephone Company” and his telephone number was “London One”. 

In April 1955, Inez married former Yorkshire and MCC cricketer Brigadier Raleigh Charles Joesph Chichester-Constable, who was awarded the DSO in both world wars.

Raleigh died in 1963 and Inez in 1978.

Inez wrote this poem when she was eleven years old and it was included in “The Blue Cross Code”, a WW1 anthology published by Jarrolds in 1917. 

‘Sall’: (In Aid of the Wounded Horse)

I’m none of yer London gentry,

Non o’ yer Hyde Park swells,

But I’m only a farmers plough horse

And I’se born among hills and fells.

Yer mus’n’t expect no graces

Fer yer won’t get ‘em from me,

I’se made as nature intended

An’ I’m jus’ plain Sall, d’ye see.

You’ve not seen me in the Row yet

An; yer won’t, if yer try so ‘ard,

I’m not a shoow ‘orse yer forget

But I’m Sall, plain Sall, and Sall goes ‘ard!


Find my Past, Free BMD, 

Cahterine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) pp. 2 and 259.

Monday 7 June 2021

“What Time The Morning Stars Arise” by Jean Blewett commemorating RNAS Lt Reginald Warneford VC

On 7th June 1915, Flight Sub-Lt Reginald Warneford of the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS( was awarded a Victoria Cross for destroying a Zeppelin in mid-air by dropping bombs on it. One exploded, setting the Zeppelin on fire, overturning Warneford's plane and stopping its engine. He landed in German territory but managed to re-start the engine and returned safely to base.  Lt Warneford was also awarded the French Legion of Honour for his action.  

Sadly, Lt Warnford was killed the day he received his French medal – on 17th June 1915 – as his plane crashed while taking a journalist on a non-combat mission. Canadian poet Jean Blewett wrote a poem about Warneford’s exploit :

“What Time The Morning Stars Arise” 

by Jean Blewett published in “Canadian Poets”, edited by John William Garvin (McClelleland, Goodchild & Stewart,Toronto, 1919), pp. 195 - 196 

 ABOVE him spreads the purple sky,

  Beneath him spreads the ether sea,

And everywhere about him lie

  Dim ports of space, and mystery.

Ho, lonely Admiral of the Fleet !

  What of the night? What of the night?

'Methinks I hear,' he says, 'the beat

  Of great wings rising for the flight.'

Ho, Admiral neighbouring with the stars

  Above the old world's stress and din !

With Jupiter and lordly Mars–

  'Ah, yonder sweeps a Zeppelin!

'A bird with menace in its breath,

  A thing of peril, spoil and strife,

The little children done to death,

  The helpless old bereft of life.

'The moan of stricken motherhood,

  The cowardice beyond our ken,

The cruelty that fires the blood,

  And shocks the souls of honest men.

'These call for vengeance–mine the chase.'

  He guides his craft–elate and strong.

Up, up, through purple seas of space,

  While in his heart there grows a song.

'Ho, little ship of mine that soars

  Twixt earth and sky, be ours to-day

To free our harassed seas and shores

  Of yonder evil bird of prey !'

The gallant venture is his own,

  No friend to caution, pray, or aid,

But strong is he who fights alone,

  Of loss and failure unafraid.

He rises higher, higher still,

  Till poised above the startled foe–

It is a fight to stir and thrill

  And set the dullest breast aglow.

Old Britain hath her battles won

  On fields that are a nation's pride,

And oh the deeds of daring done

  Upon her waters deep and wide!

But warfare waged on solid land,

  Or on the sea, can scarce compare

With this engagement, fierce, yet grand,

  This duel to the death in air.

He wins ! he wins in sea of space !

  Why prate we now of other wars

Since he has won his name and place

  By deathless valour 'mong the stars?

No more that Zeppelin will mock,

  No more will sound her song of hate;

With bursting bomb, and fire, and shock,

  She hurtles downward to her fate.

A touch of rose in eastern skies,

  A little breeze that calls and sings,

Look yonder where our hero flies,

  Like homing bird on eager wings.

He sees the white mists softly curl,

  He sees the moon drift pale and wan,

Sees Venus climb the stairs of pearl

  To hold her court of Love at dawn.

Previous post about Jean Blewett (1872 – 1934)

Monday 24 May 2021

Rose E. Sharland, nee Teague (1882 – 1956) – British poet, writer and journalist

With thanks to Canadian genealogist Annette Fulford for finding Rose for us and  helping with my research into Rose's life and times. 

Annette’s main field of research is First World War Brides, soldiers' dependents 1914-1921 and Canadian Immigration 

Rose Emily Teague was born in Upton-on-Severn, Worcestershire, UK on 11th September 1882.  Her parents were Charles Teague, a builder, and his wife Fanny, nee Lees.  Rose had a brother – Arthur Teague, b. 1871 – and a sister, Lilian Mary Teague, b. 1885.  

I have not been able to find out much about Rose, other than that she became a poet, writer and journalist.  In September 1906, she married Robert William Harold Sharland, a civil servant, and they went to live in Bristol.  Rose’s husband died on 15th February 1922.   The 1939 Census shows her still living in Bristol, a widow with the occupation of journalist.    

Rose died in Bristol in March 1956, leaving her assets to her sister, Lilian Mary Machin, nee Teague.

Rose had poems published in various newspapers and periodicals - The Daily Citizen, Daily Herald, Socialist Review, Clarion, Labour Leader, Justice, Bristol Observer and Malvern Gazette. Rose wrote an interesting article entitled “War and Romance” which was published in “The Folkestone, Hyde, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald”, on Saturday, 13th May 1916.

She also apparently wrote lyrics for songs or hymns, one of them being entitled the “May-Day Song Socialist Anthem”, which was set to music by J. Percival Jones (1908)

Rose E. Sharland had several collections of poetry published, the WW1 collection being “Maple Leaf Men : and other War Gleanings” by Rose E Sharland (J. W. Arrowsmith, Bristol, 1916).

“The Destroyer” 

ALL the sea lies spun in opal, pink and purple, blue and gold, 

Silver flashing in the sunshine, green within the crested fold. 

Little clouds chase one another on a sky of rarest blue, 

Amethystine in the water shado\v-ghosts are skimming through, 

Peaceful red sails dip and curtsey bowing to the freshening breeze, 

There the stalwart fishers gather harvesting the wealth of seas. 

Then across the water gliding, 

Like black Death the ocean riding, 

Low and seething through the waters with a boiling trail in tow, 

The Destroyer comes, defending 

With a vigil stern, unending, 

All the fair green-girdled country that her children cherish so. 

Black from stem to stern she hastens, and her white long tail of foam, 

Cleaves the sapphire of the waters circling round the shores of home, 

Black her guns, no flashing metals dancing in the summer sun, 

All is shrouded and in silence : desperate work is to be done. 

Dark forms on the decks assemble, men who form the living shield 

Twixt old England, home and beauty, and the foe on Flanders field. 

That is why those ships are gliding 

Like black Death the waters riding 

Through the dancing seas of England, never resting, never still ; 

Watching, waiting, tiring never, 

Splendid in their firm endeavour 

To protect the land they worship from all envy, hate and ill.

From: “Maple Leaf Men : and other War Gleanings” by Rose E Sharland (J. W. Arrowsmith, Bristol, 1916) pp. 41 – 42.

Other publications by Rose E. Sharland include:

Exmoor Lyrics and Other Verses, 1910

Voices of Dawn Over the Hills, 1912

Ballads of Old Bristol, 1914

Inside pages of "Ballads of Old Bristol"

The inside cover page of "Ballads of Old Bristol" has an illustration very reminiscent of an etching by Bristol artist Edward Sharland (1884 - 1967) but I have not been able to find out if there is a connection.

Illustration by Edward Sharland

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD, British Newspaper Archive,

Saturday 22 May 2021

Lola Ridge (1873 – 1 941) – Irish born poet who lived in New Zealand, Australia and America

With thanks to Dr Connie Ruzich for reminding that that, although Lola is on my List of Female Poets of the First World War, I had not yet researched her.  I now understand why I placed Lola in my List as a New Zealand poet. But where to put her?  What do you think? 

Cover of Lola's collection
Rose Emily Ridge was born in 1873 in Dublin, Ireland (Eire). Her parents were Joseph Henry and Emma Ridge, nee Reilly - she was their only surviving child. Lola's father died when she was three years old and her mother toook her to live in New Zealand, settling in Hokitika.  Emma later married a miner who was from Scotland.   

In 1895, Lola married Peter Webster, who managed a gold mine in Hokitika. In 1903, she left her husband and moved to Sydney, Australia with her three-year-old son Keith. She studied at Trinity College and enrolled in art classes at the Sydney Art School.  Lola had poems printed in the “Canterbury Times” and the “Otego Witness”, which were New Zealand publications, and in the  “Sydney Bulletin”, an Australian magazine.

After the death of her mother, Lola went to live in America, using the pen name Lola Ridge – artist and poet.  In 1907 she was living in San Francisco.  One of her poems was published in 1908 in “Overland  Monthly”, a magazine published in California, founded in 1868 by Anton Roman, a Bavarian-born bookseller who moved to California during the Gold Rush.  

Later in 1908, Lola went to live in Greenwich Village, New York, leaving her son in a childrens’ home in San Francisco. Her long poem, “The Ghetto”, was first published in “The New Republic”, a magazine of commentary on politics, contemporary culture, and the arts, founded in 1914 and still going strong.  Lola’s first poetry collection, “The Ghetto and Other Poems”, was published in 1918. On 22nd October 1919, Lola married David Laws.

In 1935, Lola was awarded the Shelley Memorial Award, given by the Poetry Society of America. She died in 1941. Her papers are held at Smith College.

Collections by Lola Ridge include “The Ghetto, and Other Poems” (1918), “Sun-up, and Other Poems” (1920), “Red Flag” (1927), “Firehead” (1930), and “Dance of Fire” (1935).

Some of Lola's poems:


  Men die...

  Dreams only change their houses.

  They cannot be lined up against a wall

  And quietly buried under ground,

  And no more heard of...

  However deep the pit and heaped the clay--

  Like seedlings of old time

  Hooding a sacred rose under the ice cap of the world--

  Dreams will to light.


  The old men of the world have made a fire

  To warm their trembling hands.

  They poke the young men in.

  The young men burn like withes.

  If one run a little way,

  The old men are wrath.

  They catch him and bind him and throw him again to the flames.

  Green withes burn slow...

  And the smoke of the young men's torment

  Rises round and sheer as the trunk of a pillared oak,

  And the darkness thereof spreads over the sky....

  Green withes burn slow...

  And the old men of the world sit round the fire

  And rub their hands....

  But the smoke of the young men's torment

  Ascends up for ever and ever.

"THE TIDINGS" (Easter 1916)

  Censored lies that mimic truth...

       Censored truth as pale as fear...

  My heart is like a rousing bell--

       And but the dead to hear...

  My heart is like a mother bird,

       Circling ever higher,

  And the nest-tree rimmed about

       By a forest fire...

  My heart is like a lover foiled

       By a broken stair--

  They are fighting to-night in Sackville Street,

       And I am not there!

From “The Ghetto, and Other Poems” (1918)


Tuesday 18 May 2021

Lady Maud Warrender (1870-1945) – poet, singer, writer, patron of the arts & Head of the British Poetry Society

With thanks to Dr Margaret Stetz for telling me about Maud Warrender

Ethel Maud Ashley-Cooper was born on 16th December 1870. Her parents were Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 8th Earl of Shaftesbury Bt DL, (son of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury), and his wife, Harriet Augusta Anna Seymourina (Chichester), only daughter (and only surviving child) of the 3rd Marquess of Donegall. Ethel Maud’s siblings were: Margaret, b. 1858, Evelyn, b. 1865, Mildred, b. 1867, Violet, b.1868 and Anthony, b. 1869.  The family lived on an estate near Wimbourne, Dorset, UK.

On 6th February 1894 at St. Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge, London, Maud married Vice-Admiral Sir George John Scott Warrender of Lochend, 7th Baronet, KCB, KCVO (31 July 1860 – 8 January 1917), who served as a senior officer in the British Royal Navy during the First World War.   One of his sisters, Alice Warrender, founded the Hawthornden Prize. 

Maud and George went on to have three children: Sir Victor Alexander George Anthony Warrender 8th Bt., 1st Baron Bruntisfield, Harold John Warrender and Violet Helen Marie Warrender. In 1903, the Warrenders bought Leasam House near Rye in East Sussex. Maud entertained many of the famous people of the day - the Elgars, the Kiplings, the Alfred Lyttletons, Nellie Melba and Ellen Terry.   George became Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in March 1916. He requested retirement in December 1916, owing to a deterioration in his health. He died in January 1917. 

After her husband's death in January 1917, Maud worked for the Red Cross collecting books for the wounded. In her memoir "My First Sixty Years", she says:  "When I returned from Plymouth in 1917 I worked for the Red Cross Hospital Library, which was started by Mrs. Gaskell in order to supply the wounded  everywhere in our many campaigns during the War.   Millions of books were sent out from Surrey House, which was lent by Lady Battersea, where now stands the Regal Cinema at the Marble Arch.  The Red Cross Library was started by May Gaskell because she had remembered how, in the Boer War, any books that happened to be in the Hospital had to be divided into portions and handed on from bed to bed until they fell to pieces." 

In 1917 Maud became a District Commissioner of the Rye Division of Girl Guides and wrote a Marching Song for the Guides, "bringing in all our slogans": 

All the world is full of Music, 

Let us sing our way through life. 

There’s a song for those who hear it. 

Bringing peace and ending strife. 

There is Music in the Sunshine 

We can shed — We take out stand 

And we vow, as Guides, 

That whate’er betides. 

We’ll be there to knd a hand. 

Refrain and Chorus:

Be prepared shall be our watchword. 

Let us sing it every day. 

Pressing forward, looking upward, 

Helping others on their way ; 

Be prepared for joy or sorrow. 

Always smiling, come what may. 

And the world shall see what Guides can be 

As we march along on life’s highway. 

Let the message dear come ringing : 

Onward! Upward! Let us prove 

That the song the Guides are singing 

Gives us courage, brings us love. 

All the world is full of Music, 

Let us make our lives a song, 

That wll make hearts beat. 

And will lift our feet 

As we bravely march along. 

Chorus. Be prepared, etc. 

In her memoir, Maud tells us:  “Hermann Darewski composed a marching tune to these words, most generously giving me the copyright and five thousand copies, which were sold for the Guide Funds.  (From “My First Sixty Years” by Maud Warrender (Cassell & Co. Ltd., London, 1933) pp. 128 and 129. 


Herman Darewski (17 April 1883 – 2 June 1947) was a British composer and conductor of light music.

Maud was also a founding member of the charity which, in her day, was known as the Musicians Benevolent Fund and is now called Help Musicians UK

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.

Dr Margaret Stetz is Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies and Professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Delaware in America.


Portrait of Lady Maud Warrender by American artist Violet Oakley (June 10, 1874 – February 25, 1961).

Lady Maud Warrender's WW1 Recrod card is from the British Red Cross WW1 website