Sunday 13 November 2022

Kathleen Mary Gotelee (1890 – 1959) – her poem won a prize in a song competition in 1918

This was found for us by Historian Debbie Cameron and was written by K.M.E. Gotelee and published in “The Landswoman”, magazine March 1918, p.56. Written to the tune of ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.  This poem was selected as third prize for The Land Army songs competition run by “The Landswoman” magazine.

Kathleen Mary Gotelee was born in Isalington, London, UK in 1890 – the birth being registered in December of that year.  Her parents were John Gotelee, a shop walker in a drapers shop, and his wife, Mary Jane, nee Bills.  

We were summoned from the city, from the cottage and the hall,

From the hillside and the valley, and we answered to the call.

For we’re fighting for our country as we till her fertile soil

And our King and Country need our help and ask for earnest toil.

Keep the home crops growing,

In the soft winds blowing

Though your work seems hard at times ’tis not in vain.

Golden cornfields waving,

Mean your country’s saving,

Golden sheaves at Harvest Time will the victory gain.

In the farmyard and the forest we are bravely doing our bit,

Some are milking cows for England, some the giant oak trees split.

We are working for our country, and we’re glad to have the chance,

By increasing England’s food supply, to help our lads in France.

Keep the home flag flying,

England’s food supplying,

Help to bring our gallant lads victorious home.

Though the Germans raid us,

English women aid us,

Keep our food stores fortified till the boys come home. 

“The Landswoman” was the official monthly magazine of the Women’s Land Army and the Women’s Institutes and was edited by Meriel Talbot (who was in charge of recruitment and co-ordination of the Women’s Land Army during World War One). It was launched in early January 1918 and was priced at 2d. The price went up to 3d in May 1918, due to rising costs of paper and printing. 

The popular First World War song “Keep the Home Fires burning” - the lyrics were written by American poet Lena Guilbert Brown Ford who was killed in an air raid in London in 1918, and the music was composed by Ivor Novello.

The origin of keeping the home fires burning 

The ancient Romans believed that every home had a hearth and it was the hearth where the fire burned, the family gathered for sustenance, communication and protection. This concept was so important to the culture that there was a huge city hearth - the Vestal temple - where the fire of the home goddess, Vesta, burned forever without ever going out. This sacred flame was protected by soldiers. 

The place where the Goddess Vesta was honoured within every ordinary home was also the hearth,and that is where women prepared food and cooked. Some food was always offered back into the fire as an offering to Vesta for her blessing and protection. Often husbands were sent away on military duty for years on end and their wives at home were not just expected to keep the home and often the business running, but to wait for their husbands faithfully until they returned. They prayed to Vesta to ensure their family members' safe return and to keep the fires of love stoked. The saying: " Keep the home fires burning " was inspired by this practice.

Sources for the lyrics written by Kathleen:

Sunday 30 October 2022

Iris Tree (1897 – 1968) – British Poet, Writer, Artist and Actress

While researching someone else, I stumbled upon some of Iris Tree's WW1 poems and realised that, although she has an Exhibiton Panel, she was not on the weblog so I decided to  put that right 

Iris's portrait byAugustus John
Iris was born in London on 27th January 1897. Her parents were Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree an actor/theatre manager and impresario and his wife Helen Maud Holt who was an actress.  Iris’s sisters Felicity and Viola also became actresses. 

Iris’s Father ran The Herbert Beerbohm Tree Company of performers, of which Basil Hallam ("Gilbert the Filbert" – see below) was a member. Beerbohm Tree also managed The Haymarket Theatre and His Majesty’s Theatre in London, presenting Shakespeare’s work, classic plays, new works and adaptations of novels.  In 1904, Beerbohm founded The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and in 1909 he was knighted  for his services to the theatre,

Iris was a poet, actress and artist’s model.  She was described as ‘an eccentric, a wit and an adventuress’.   One of her friends - another WW1 poet Nancy Cunard - studied with Iris at the Slade School of Art and contributed to the Sitwells’ poetry periodical “Wheels” during WW1.   Her father was a supporter of the War and delivered many patriotic speeches to help raise funds for the war effort.  

According to Vera Brittain, Iris’s father, who delivered patriotic addresses during the First World, died on 17th July 1917, in a London nursing home, following surgery to set a broken leg.  Winifred Holtby was aged nineteen at the time and was nursing there and apparently Beerbohm died in her arms.

 Iris married twice – first to Curtis Moffat, a New York artist, and they had a son - Ivan Moffat, who became a screenwriter.   Iris’s second marriage was to an actor and former officer of the Austrian Cavalry – Count Friedrich von Ledebur-Wicheln.

Iris died on 13th April 1968.

Basil Hallam and the Knuts in WW1

Iris’s WW1 poetry collections was “Poems” by Iris Tree, with illustrationsYou  by Curtis Moffat (John Lane, The Bodley Head, New York, 1920) and she had poems published in seven WW1 anthologies. 

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

“England my England A War Anthology” Compiled by George Goodchild (Jarrold & Sons, London, 1914) to which Iris contributed her poem      “In time of War”:

"In Time of War"

THE days come up as beggars in the street

With empty hands, as summers without sun

That bring no gold of corn. With weary feet

We tread our ways not caring where they run.

The poet’s song all golden in his throat

Turns to a blood-red chapter, rage unfurled ;

The hunter’s horn has made its little note

A trumpet-blast that shall awake the world.

From silent shores where languid tides have swept,

From quiet hills where dreaming people reign

Strange eyes drop water that have never wept,

Men rush to slaughter that have never slain:

For look! The gorgeous armies marching onwards.

And look! The draggled line, the feet that lag,

The burning banner, and returning homewards,

The pallid faces and the bleeding flag !

 From house to house the mournful winds have blown

The dying war-cry in the watchers’ ears,

From heath to hill have borne the weepers’ moan,

Have drowned the drum, have frozen up their tears.

They see the dusty roads of separation,

They see the lonely seas and stranger lands ;

Their children give good bodies for the nation

And yield their swords to death with loyal hands.

Beggar and prince in meeting face to face

Hold the same secret shining in their eyes

The awful terror of a fierce disgrace,

The awful hope that glory may arise,

The hope that like a flame from the black field

Flings up its prophecy on fervent wings ;

Pride in the strength of God whose sword we wield,

And charity the only crown of kings.

 Iris Tree.

You can find more of Iris’s poems here:

Iris's portrait was painted by Welsh artist Augustus John (1878 - 1961). In December 1917 Augustus John was attached to the Canadian forces as a war artist and made a number of memorable portraits of Canadian infantrymen.

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Leonora Speyer, Lady Speyer (1872 – 1956) - American poet and violinist

Leonora Stosch
Born in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., on 7th November 1872,  Leonora was the daughter of Count Ferdinand von Stosch of Mantze in Silesia, who fought for the Union during the Civil War, and his wife, Julia, nee Schayer, who was a writer from New England.  Leonora learnt to play the violin as a little girl.  She then studied music in Brussels, Paris, and Leipzig and went on to play the violin professionally.  

Leonora's first husband was Louis Meredith Howland, who she married in 1894, but they divorced in Paris. In 1902, Leonora married London banker Edgar Speyer (later Sir Edgar), in St. George’s Hanover Square, London. The couple lived in Cavendish Square W, St Marylebone, London until 1915.   Leonora had four daughters: Enid Howland with her first husband and Pamela, Leonora, and Vivien Claire Speyer with Sir Edgar.

Sir Edgar's family were of German origin and, following anti-German attacks on him during the First World War, the couple moved to the United States of America and lived in New York, where Leonora began writing poetry.  She won the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her collection of poetry entitled “Fiddler's Farewell”.

Here is one of Leonora's poems:

“April on the Battlefields”

April now walks the fields again,

Trailing her tearful leaves

And holding all her frightened buds against her heart:

Wrapt in her clouds and mists,

She walks,

Groping her way among the graves of men.

The green of earth is differently green,

A dreadful knowledge trembles in the grass,

And little wide-eyed flowers die too soon:

There is a stillness here —

After a terror of all raving sounds —

And birds sit close for comfort upon the boughs

Of broken trees.

April, thou grief!

What of thy sun and glad, high wind,

Thy valiant hills and woods and eager brooks,

Thy thousand-petalled hopes?

The sky forbids thee sorrow, April!

And yet —

I see thee walking listlessly

Across those scars that once were joyous sod,

Those graves,

Those stepping-stones from life to life.

Death is an interruption between two heart-beats,    

That I know —

Yet know not how I know —

But April mourns,

Trailing her tender green,

The passion of her green,

Across the passion of those fearful fields.

Yes, all the fields!

No barrier here,

No challenge in the night,

No stranger-land;

She passes with her perfect countersign,

Her green;

She wanders in her mournful garden,

Dropping her buds like tears,

Spreading her lovely grief upon the graves of man.

From “The Second Book of Modern Verse: A Selection from the work of contemporaneous American poets”. Edited by Jessie B. Rittenhous,Editor of “The Little Book of Modern Verse”, 1919.

Portrait of Lady Speyer, 1907
by John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925) 


Leonora is mentioned in

Saturday 22 October 2022

Radclyffe Hall (12 August 1880 – 7 October 1943) - British poet and writer

Radclyffe Hall, 1918

Marguerite Antonia Raclyffe-Hall was born on 12th August 1880 in Bournemouth, Dorset.  Her parents were Radclyffe Radclyffe-Hall and his wife Mary Jane Sager, nee Diehl.  Her father died in 1898, leaving her a considerable inheritance and she did not get on with her mother and, thanks to her father, was able to go her own way. 

Radclyffe spent time travelling and learning and published five books of poetry between 1906 and 1915, when her collection entitled “The Forgotten Island” was published.

During the First World War, Radclyffe apparently worked with the Red Cross but I cannot find any information about her wartime service.

Although the following poem was published prior to the First World War, I feel it is relevant:


Battle of Tanga, 1914
Martin Frost 

Once o'er this hill whereon we stand,

Just you and I, hand clasp'd in hand

Amid the silence, and the space,

A mighty battle rent the air,

With dying curse and choking prayer;

'Mid shot and shell death stalked apace.

Is it conceivable to you —

So much at peace — because we two

Are close together, or to me?

The silent beauty of the noon

Seems like a Heaven-granted boon,

Aglow with tender ecstasy.

A little mist of hazy blue

Is slowly hiding from our view

The city's domes and slender spires,

As thro' a bridal veil the sun

Subdued and shy lights one by one

The virgin clouds with blushing fires.

The wind has fallen; very low

We hear his wings brush past, and know

He creeps away to dream and rest;

How sweet to be alone, to feel

You breathe one longing sigh, and steal

A little closer to my breast.

Is anything worth while but this?

We may not perish for a kiss,

Yet thus it were not hard to die!

War strews the earth with countless dead,

And after all is done and said,

The end is love, and you and I!

Portrait of Radclyffe Hall in 1918 by German-Born British artist Charles Buchel (Karl August Büchel) (1872–1950)

German artist Martin Frost (1875-1928) produced about 260 paintings and sketches of the German experience of The First World War. His paintings showing the realism of combat put him in the forefront of German war artists of WW1.  Periodicals at the time heavily promoted Frost's works, bringing to the German public the ordeal of the frontline soldier.

The Battle of Tanga, sometimes also known as the Battle of the Bees, was the unsuccessful attack by the British Indian Expeditionary Force "B" under Major General A. E. Aitken to capture German East Africa (the mainland portion of present-day Tanzania) during the First World War. It was the first major event of the war in Eastern Africa and saw the British defeated by a significantly smaller force of German Askaris and colonial volunteers under Lieutenant Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. It was the beginning of the East African Campaign of World War I, and is considered one of greatest victories of the Schutztruppe in Africa. The British retreat enabled the Schutztruppe to salvage modern equipment, medical supplies, tents, blankets, food and a number of Maxim machine guns which allowed them to successfully resist the allies for the rest of the war.

Friday 14 October 2022

Katherine Mansfield (1888 –1923) – New Zealand born Poet and Writer

Born in Wellington, New Zealand Kathleen Mansfield Beechamp on 14th October 1888, Kathleen wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield.   Her first printed stories appeared in the "High School Reporter" and the Wellington Girls' High School magazine. Katherine moved to London in 1903, where she attended Queen's College along with her sisters. Katherine played the cello, and always thought she would take it up professionally.  

Katherine returned to New Zealand after travelling in Europe between 1903 and 1906, staying mainly in Belgium and Germany.  

Back in London by 1908, Katherine Mansfield's life and work were altered completely in 1915 when her beloved younger brother, Leslie Heron "Chummie" Beauchamp, was killed in action on the Western Front on 6th October 1915, serving as a Second Lieutenant with the South Lancashire Regiment 8th Bn.  Leslie was buried in Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium, Grave Reference: III. E. 2. 

Katherine and her brother Leslie
New Zealand, 1907

Diagnosed with extrapulmonary tuberculosis in 1917, Katherine died in France on 9th January 1923 at the age of 34.

Here is a poem Katherine wrote following the death of her brother:

“To Leslie Heron Beauchamp”

'Last night for the first time since you were dead 

I walked with you, my brother, in a dream. 

We were at home again beside the stream 

Fringed with tall berry bushes, white and red.

‘Don't touch them: they are poisonous,’ I said. 

But your hand hovered, and I saw a beam 

Of strange, bright laughter flying round your head 

And as you stooped I saw the berries gleam.

‘Don't you remember? We called them Dead Man's Bread!’ 

I woke and heard the wind moan and the roar 

Of the dark water tumbling on the shore. 

Where – where is the path of my dream for my eager feet? 

By the remembered stream my brother stands 

Waiting for me with berries in his hands … 

‘These are my body. Sister, take and eat'

Till We Meet Again

Poem posted by Johan Moors on the Facebook Page Memporial Site for All Commonwealth and Allied Soldiers

Tuesday 12 July 2022

A Message from Bairbre O'Hogan about the commemorative events held in Ireland marking the 50th anniversary of Winifred M. Letts' death

Bairbre says:

As many of you do not live in Ireland, it was not possible for you to attend the June 2022 events marking the 50th anniversary of W M Letts's death  . You may be interested in some of the media coverage of one of the events - the unveiling, in Rathcoole Church of Ireland, of a memorial plaque and a sculpture.  Unfortunately, South Dublin Libraries were not in a position to record the symposium, nor the launch of the exhibition, on 9th June 2022.

 If you have access to Facebook, you could search for Unveiling of a memorial plaque to poet Winifred Mabel Letts which is on the 'DublinLive' Facebook page.

The local newspaper, Echo, on 9th June 2022 also covered the Rathcoole event - the article is here, but I know people are wary of clicking on links:

The Echo is to publish another piece on Letts in the near future.

At the launch of the exhibition, Aileen Lambert, a traditional singer from Co. Wexford, performed her setting of Letts's The Harbour -

I would like to correct one statement  -  W. M. Letts was not buried in an 'unmarked grave' - she was buried with her husband in a Verschoyle plot, but her name had not been added to the headstone. In advance of these celebrations, this omission was rectified.

I will finish with an entry from her diary in which she described her ideal burial place:

“It may be untidy but I'd rather have nature make and keep my bed... To be covered by ivy and wood sanicle and primroses, for beech leaves to make me a winter coverlet, and rabbits and squirrels for company would be all to my taste. And if relations came later to see my grave they'd come merrily for picnics ...”  Winifred Mabel Letts

Let us merrily remember Winifred and share her writings with new audiences!

Kind regards, Bairbre O'Hogan

Monday 11 July 2022

Donnett Mary Paynter (1894 - 1924) – Poet and WW1 member of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, who served in France.

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron who found the poem by Donnett Mary Paynter entitled “An Apology for what we wear”. I wonder if Donnett wrote any other poems – I have so far not been able to find any but in my experience it is rare for people to ‘only write one poem’. See my thoughts by following this link:

As far as I have been able to ascertain, Donnett was born in 1894. She was baptised on 10th November 1894 at St. Peter’s Church, Tandridge, Surrey.  Her parents were Beatrice Louisa Paynter, nee Barkworth (1865 – 1931), and Hugh Haweis Paynter (1865 – 1934), who were married in Paddington in 1890.  Donnett’s father served as a Lieutenant Commander in the British Royal Navy during WW1.   The couple had two daughters – Ann, born in 1893, and Donnett and a son – Thomas Cranborne, born in 1901 who became a writer and died in 1976.

During the First World War, Donnett Mary volunteered to serve overseas in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry. She served in France from 9th February 1917 until April 1919. She was Mentioned in Despatches on 31.12.18  

The photograph (left) is of Donnett with her motor ambulance given by her father, Commander Hugh H. Paynter, R.N. for use at the FANY Convoy. Miss Paynter's mother founded, and for a year, worked at the Royal Flying Corps Hospital for Officers.

Incidentally, NOTES ON COPYRIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPHS  (United Kingdom Law) Generally speaking any photograph taken and published in the UK before 1945 will now be out of copyright. Anything taken before 1945 and published before 1993 will be free of both copyright and publication right.   Copyright in photographs taken before 1 June 1957, when the 1956 Copyright Act came into effect, is governed by section 21 of the Copyright Act 1911. This applied a standard 50-year term to all photographs, irrespective of whether they had or had not been published.

The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY)

The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry was founded in 1907 by Edward Baker - the idea being that medical aids on horseback would be able to access the wounded quickly. Baker explained:  “During my period of service with Lord Kitchener in the Soudan Campaign, where I had the misfortune to be wounded, it occurred to me that there was a missing link somewhere in the Ambulance Department which, in spite of the changes in warfare, had not altered very materially since the days of Crimea when Florence Nightingale and her courageous band of helpers went out to succour and save the wounded.

On my return from active service I thought out a plan which I anticipated would meet the want, but it was not until September 1907 that I was able to found a troop of young women to see how my ideas on the subject would work. My idea was that each member of this Corps would receive, in addition to a thorough training in First Aid, a drilling in cavalry movements, signalling and camp work, so that nurses could ride onto the battlefield to attend to the wounded who might otherwise have been left to a slow death.”  Captain Edward Baker 1910

The Royal Flying Corps Hospital

37 Bryanston Square, London W1 1916 - 1919

The Royal Flying Corps Hospital opened in May 1916 in a house lent by Lady Tredegar.  In June 1916 the King sent a gift of wine for the use of the wounded officers there.

The Hospital was the second to open in London specifically for members of the Corps.  The first, in Dorset Square, remained the Headquarters and a Convalescent Home was set up in Freshwater in the Isle of Wight.  The Hospital was affiliated to Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital.  It had 20 beds, 12 of which were donated by Lady Tredegar, who also contributed to the maintenance fund for the running costs.  Princess Christian gave a substantial donation towards the cost of the equipment and Lady St Helier presented some beds and other practical gifts, as well as obtaining financial assistance. (Lady St Helier befriended the Canadian Billy Bishop (1894-1956), an observer for the Royal Flying Corps, who had sustained a knee injury in May 1916 and was a patient at the Hospital.  She enabled him to be accepted for training as a pilot as the Central Training School at Upavon, Salisbury Plain.  Bishop went on to become the top flying ace of the British Empire, with 72 victories.)

In March 1917 the King and Queen visited the Hospital.  By that time, following the great expansion of the Corps, the development of aerial fighting and the physical effects of constant flying at great altitudes had greatly increased the number of sick and wounded officers.  The accommodation at the Hospital was proving insufficient and the Committee launched an Appeal for funds for expansion.  Lady Tredegar, who already had a ward named after her for her generosity in allowing the use of her house, contributed £375 to cover maintenance of the Hospital for six months and one additional bed.

In addition, another property was secured in Eaton Square to become a sister hospital.Both Hospitals closed in 1919.  NOTE: To have an idea of what £375 would be worth in 2022, you need to multiply the sum by 200.

"An Apology for what we wear" by Donnett Mary Paynter, handwritten in a notebook for a fellow FANY volunteer

Oh you who criticise the clothes

Or lack of them, as worn

By members of the female sex

Who rise at early dawn 

And carry on throughout the day…

We’re sorry if our garb offends

We do not like your smile

When you observe a skirt that reaches

To the knees only of our breeches

We do not wear for choice you see

These clothes utilitarian …

So do not blame us overmuch

We’re useful we believe …


Find my Past, Free BMD and

“Women of war: Gender, modernity and the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry” Juliette Pattinson (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2020)

Thursday 23 June 2022

Kate Rawlins (1867 – 1932) – poet

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron and Geoff Harrison who both sent me copies of Kate Rawlins’ poem “The Hospital Suit” and to a dear friend who found and sent me numerous mentions of Kate in newspapers that enabled me to complete the research for this post. 

Born Kate Gibson in Gravesend, Kent, UK in 1867 and baptised on 18th August 1867, Kate’s parents were Eliza Gibson, nee Williams, and Samuel Lodwick Gibson, who were married in Lambeth, London in June 1853.  Kate’s father was a builder, carpenter, wheelwright (like his father) and undertaker.  

Kate had the following siblings: Robert W Gibson, b. 1885, Elizabeth, b. 1857,William, b. 1858, Augusta E., b. 1860, Maria A. b. 1861 and Ann, b. 1865. Kate became a music teacher, her sister Maria became an artist and Ann a teacher. Samuel Lodwick Gibson died in 1874 and his wife in 1897.  

In September 1895, Kate married Thomas Griffin Rawlins, a commercial traveller, in Wandsworth.  The couple had two sons and two daughters. The family moved to Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex, where Thomas died in December 1919.

A letter dated 6th September 1915 that Kate sent to the “Bexhill Chronicle”, where she was on holiday, enclosed a war poem entitled “The Lads are coming home” written by her.  Kate mentioned that she was sending the newspaper the last in her “little series of war poems”. 

“The Bexhill Observer” of 14th September 1918 reported that Mrs Kate Rawlins was the “Collector of the Sussex Prisoner of War Fund”. 

Kate’s death on 9th July 1932 was reported in the Bexhill local press.  Her Obituary mentions that Kate’s WW1 poem “The Hospital Suit” was sold in postcard form in aid of the British Red Cross during the First World War and that she was a Life Governor of the Royal East Sussex Hospital as well as a keen member of the local branch of the British Legion.

The newspaper the Bexhill Observer of 13th January 1917 reported that Kate’s poem “The Hospital Suit” had been set to music by “the well-known songwriter Mr Sedley Taylor, an officer who has been at the Front and is now recuperating his health”.   The article goes on to explain the inspiration behind the poem, which was often performed as a recitation, was “… while so many sang the praises of khaki, the light grey and blue did not meet with very much recognition.”   The song was performed at a benefit concert by “the famous Welsh baritone Mr Ceredig Walters.”

Kate seems to have been a prolific poet -another of her poems was entitled “Doing our Bit”. I would love to know if any more of Kate's poems are in existance anywhere.

On 2 July 2016, during the unveiling of a WW1 memorial in Eastbourne Kate’s poem “The Sussex Hero” was read by Spyke Baker.  The poem was about Sussex WW1 hero Nelson Victor Carter, who was killed in action during the Battle of the Boar’s Head on 30th June 1916, whilst rescuing wounded soldiers from No Man’s Land For his bravery he was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross. 

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

Saturday 30 April 2022

Marjorie Wilson (1885 - 1934) - British poet

I am trying to find information about WW1 Female Poet Marjorie Wilson, who used the pen name ‘Town Girl’ for some of her poems which were published in “The Children's Newspaper”. Marjorie was a sister of WW1 soldier poet T.P. Cameron Wilson, who was killed on the Western Front in 1918. However, she is very hard to find.

The 6 children of the Rev. Theodore Cameron Wilson and his wife Annie Fredoline Wilson, nee Smith were Christopher, Mary, Theodore, Alice, John and Charles.

The death of T.P. Cameron Wilson was reported in the "Derby Daily Telegraph" of 8/4/1918: ”… His two sisters are nurses. One is at Netley Hospital, and the other is with the Duchess of Sutherland's nursing staff in France. Practically the whole of the family have given themselves up to the service of their King and country”.

The only mention of one of the Rev. Theodore Cameron Wilson's daughters I could find that could possibly fit with the dates of Marjorie's birth is for Alice Margaret Wilson - Daughter - Single - Female 25 - born 1886 in Devonshire Torquay on the Census record for 1911: Census For England & Wales - St Luke's Vicarage, Bristol, Gloucestershire, England. (Note - It is usual for the Census to record a year following the year of birth.)

During WW1 it seems the Reverend T Cameron Wilson was Rector of a church in Little Eaton in Derbyshire.

Dr Connie Ruzich kindly sent me the following information : The death of the WW1 soldier poet T.P. Cameron Wilson was reported in the "Derby Daily Telegraph" of 8/4/1918: ”… His two sisters are nurses. One is at Netley Hospital, and the other is with the Duchess of Sutherland's nursing staff in France. Practically the whole of the family have given themselves up to the service of their King and country”. "

Dr. Connie Ruzich on her website Behind their Lines shows us a memorial for a Marjorie Wilson, daughter of the Rev. Theodore Wilson, in St. Peter's Church, Blaxhall, Suffolk, UK, which tells us that Marjorie was born on 4th June 1885 and died on 9th September 1934: The inscription reads "To The Dear Memory of Marjorie Wilson, daughter of the Rector of Blaxhall" The memorial shows an angel comforting mourning children, and it was designed by Dorothy Rope.


The photograph of Marjorie is from

To Tony (Aged 3) (In Memory T.P.C.W) by Marjorie Wilson
Gemmed with white daisies was the great green world
Your restless feet have pressed this long day through-
Come now and let me whisper to your dreams
A little song grown from my love for you.
There was a man once loved green fields like you,
He drew his knowledge from the wild bird’s songs;
And he had praise for every beauteous thing,
And he had pity for all piteous wrongs….
A lover of earth’s forest – of her hills,
And brother to her sunlight – to her rain –
Man, with a boy’s fresh wonder, He was great
With greatness all too simple to explain.
He was a dreamer and a poet, and brave
To face and hold what he alone found true.
He was a comrade of the old – a friend
To every little laughing child like you
And when across the peaceful English land,
Unhurt by war, the light is growing dim,
And you remember by your shadowed bed
All those – the brave – you must remember him.
And know it was for you who bear is name
And such as you that all his joy he gave –
His love of quiet fields, his youth, his life,
To win that heritage of peace you have.
T.P.C.W. was Theodore Percival Cameron Wilson, the poet’s brother, killed in action 1918.

This poem was included in the Anthology: “Valour and vision: poems of the war, 1914 –18 (Longmans Green, London, 1920), Edited by Jacqueline Theodora Trotter.
If anyone has any definite information about Marjorie and her WW1 service please get in touch.

Dr. Connie Ruzich, a former Fulbright Scholar in the UK, is now a University Professor at Robert Morris University, Sewickley, Pennsylvania, United States of America. She has edited a fantastic WW1 Anthology entitled “International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices” Editor Constance M. Ruzich (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020) 157.50$

Her marvellous WW1 poetry weblog is Behind their Lines -

Monday 25 April 2022

WW1 ANZAC poems by female poets

For ANZAC Day here are some poems.   Interestlying, Billjim – “one who’ll plug for two” – rather than ANZACS was the affectionate name the public had for Australian soldiers in World War I

 ANZACS by Ethel M. Campbell  (1866-1954) - printed during World War I, the poem was written by 'E.M.C.' - Ethel M. Campbell - in Durban, South Africa in 1917.    Ethel was known for her enthusiastic greetings and farewells of Australian troopships in Durban during World War I. 

What mean these great white ships at sea, ploughing their Eastward tack, / 

Bearing their precious human freight, bringing the spent men back? / 

They mean that Australia has been there, they mean she has played the game, 

And her wonderful sons have won their share of everlasting fame.

AN ANZAC CAP by Jessie Pope (1868 – 1941) 

It hangs on the wall, a trifle battered,

The wire is warped and the lining tattered.

And the leather inside shows speakingly how

It’s been wet with the sweat of a soldier’s brow.

Month after month, through that fierce campaign—

The bitterest fight that was fought in vain—

It was jammed on an Anzac’s lean, brown poll,

As he pierced his way to a glimpse of goal.

Furlong by furlong, aye, inch by inch,

From the sniping shot to the cold-steel, clinch-

Fists, “rough-housing,” any old tools—

He got there each time by “Rafferty rules.”

Till a shell, with his name on, gave him a call—

And that is the tale of the cap on the wall,

But the sequel, though strange, is an equally true one—

Its owner, thank God, is now wearing a new one.

Jessie Pope. published in “Poverty Bay Herald”, 7 March 1916

Anzac by Sylvia Hobday - I have not been able to find anything out about Sylvia.

There’s a Name we’ve learnt to know, and love –

We’ll n’er forget while Heaven’s above,

And the mountains stand, and waters move

O’er Anzac!

The Name was wrought out of blood and fire,

Through sacrifice and in peril dire –

But the Glory rose Beyond and Higher

Of Anzac!

The Anzac Boys are our Empire’s breed.

They are few or words, but great of deed

And true descendants of Britain’s seed,

Each “Anzac”.

They sail’d ’neath Heaven, and found a Hell,

Where many a Hero fought and fell

As the great guns chim’d their booming knell

O’er Anzac.

And some now rest by the changing seas,

By stony shores swept by gale and breeze –

While stars keep watch o’er the sleep of these –

At Anzac.

O! Christ, in Thy Love, look down, and keep

The souls of the slain, in their long sleep,

Thy comfort bring to the Hearts that weep

For Anzac.

The Name shall ring through the Ages long –

A mighty Paean of Epic Song

Echo’d perchance by Angelic Throng –

Of Anzac!

“Cobbers” by Jessie Pope

They were “cobbers,” that’s Anzac for chum.
But it means rather more than we mean –
A friendship that will not succumb,
Though distance or death intervene.
Adventure, success, and mishap
In boyhood they’d shared, so no wonder
They jumped at the chance of a scrap
And booked with the crowd from ”down under.”

In a narrow Gallipoli trench
They chanced upon glimpses of hell,
And a thirst there was nothing to quench
But a deluging downpour of shell;
Perpetual ridges they took,
They charged and they cursed and they shouted,
But nothing their recklessness shook
Till one of the “cobbers” got “outed.”

The other one came back at night,
Exhausted in body and brain,
And groped round the scene of the fight,
But sought for his “cobber” in vain.
His spirit was heavy with grief,
His outlook was sombre and blotted,
But his bayonet brought him relief
Next, morning— and that’s when he “got it.”

Scene: Midday,Victoria street,
An Anzac (in blue) on each side –
A coo-ee, wild, ringing, and sweet –
The taxicabs swerve and divide.
For traffic they don’t care a toss,
There, right in the middle, they’re meeting;
Stay, let’s draw a curtain across
Where the two long-lost “cobbers” are greeting.

Cicely Fox-Smnith was among the very first female poets of WW1 I researched for this commemorative exhibition project.  

“Farewell to ANZAC” by Cicely Fox-Smith (1882 -  1954)

Oh, hump your swag and leave, lads, the ships are in the bay -
We've got our marching orders now, it's time to come away -
And a long good-bye to Anzac Beach - where blood has flowed in vain
For we're leaving it, leaving it, game to fight again!

But some there are will never quit this bleak and bloody shore -
And some that marched and fought with us will fight and march no more;
Their blood has bought till Judgment Day the slopes they stormed so well,
And we're leaving them, leaving them, sleeping where they fell. 

(Leaving them, leaving them - the bravest and the best -
leaving them, leaving them, and maybe glad to rest!
We've done our best with yesterday, to-morrow's still our own -
But we're leaving them, leaving them, sleeping all alone!)

Ay, they are gone beyond it all, the praising and the blame,
And many a man may win renown, but none more fair a fame;
They showed the world Australia's lads knew well the way to die;
And we're leaving them, leaving them, quiet where they lie.

(Leaving them, leaving them, sleeping where they died;
Leaving them, leaving them, in their glory and their pride -
Round the sea and barren land, over them the sky,
Oh, We're leaving them, leaving them, quiet where they lie!) 

Cicely Fox Smith

Thursday 7 April 2022

Re-issue of 'Patriot Mothers and other poems' by Evelyn Shillito

Great news!  The poems of Evelyn Shillito (1874 – 1924) have been re-issued.  For further information about Evelyn please see a previousw post on Female Poets of the First World War

Evelyn’s poetry collection, entitled 'Patriot Mothers and other poems', was discovered in a family attic after a hundred years. This is a new 2022 edition of Evelyn’s book, originally published in 1925 by the "Surbiton Times", after her death in 1924. The original book was prefaced by the following note: “Evelyn might have wished to make some emendations in these verses if she had known that they would be printed, but it has been thought better to issue them just as they were left by her.” Evelyn's relative says: "It has been a privilege to review her poems and make just a few adjustments for readers to enjoy, 100 years later."

Here is the link to purchase a copy:

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Frances Chesterton (1869 – 1938) – British writer, poet, lyricist and playwright

Wife of G.K. Chesterton

Frances Blogg
Born Frances Alice Blogg on 28th June 1869, her parents were George William Blogg, a merchant, and his wife, Blanche, nee Keymer.  Frances was the eldest of their seven children, however I have only been able to find five of Frances’s siblings: 

George Alfred Knollys Blogg, b. 10 April 1871

Ethel Laura Blogg, b. 2 May 1872

Helen Colborne Blogg, b. 22 Nov 1873

Gertrude Colborne Blogg, b. 14 May 1875

Rachel Margaret Blogg, b. 1878, d. 1881 

Blanche Blogg had advanced ideas about education and politics and sent the children to one of the first kindergartens in London – the Ladies' School in Fitzroy Square, London - which was run by Rosalie and Minna Praetorius. Frances went on to Notting Hill High School before becoming a pupil/teacher at St. Stephen's College, an Anglican convent, for two years, graduating in 1891. She then became a tutor, and began teaching at the Sunday school in her local Anglican church in Bedford Park.  

Blanche set up a debating society and held meetings in the family home. That is how Frances met G.K. Chesterton. 

Frances Blogg and Gilbert Keith Chesterton were married on 28th June 1901 in St Mary Abbots, Kensington.  Frances was passionate about her husband’s writing, encouraged him and acted as his personal assistant. In 1909 the couple moved to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where they lived until they died. 

Every Christmas, Frances would write a poem for their Christmas card, one of which - "How far is it to Bethlehem?" - was later published as the hymn "Is It Far To Bethlehem?"

Gilbert Keith and Frances Chesterton

Gilbert died on 14th June 1936, and Frances on 12th December 1938.

The following poem written by Frances was published in “Lest we Forget:  A War Anthology” edited by H.B. Elliott (Jarrolds, London 1915)

“Le Jour des Morts” by Frances Chesterton  (Tr of title - The Day of the Dead)

The day of the dead, the day of the dead,

Down on your knees and pray,

For the souls of the living, the souls of the dying

The souls that have passed away.

And the great bell tolls

For the treasure of souls

Delivered into his hand,

Gabriel, Michael, Uriel reap

Souls as a measure of sand,

Souls from the restless deep,

Souls from the blood-red land.

The day of the dead, the day of the dead,

Down on your knees and pray,

For the souls of the outcast, despised and rejected

The heroes and victors today.

And the great bell rings,

And the great bell swings, 

As death makes up the number

Of men’s lives as grains of sand.

From the decks their bodies cumber,

From the panting, shivering land,

From crash and shriek to slumber.

The day of the dead, the day of the dead,

Up on your feet and stand 

For the souls of the living, the fighting, the striving,

For the gun and the sword in hand.

And His Transfiguration 

Descends on a nation

And death is a little thing,

And lives as a grain of sand.

Michael, Gabriel, Uriel bring 

From the desolate blood-red land,

From the tall ships foundering

The day of the dead, the day of the dead,

Down on your knees and pray,

For the souls of the living, the souls of the dying,

The souls that have passed away.

From “Lest we Forget:  A War Anthology”, edited by H.B. Elliott (Jarrolds, London 1915) pp. 25 and 26.  This is available to read as a free download on Archive:

NOTE: The Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated annually on 1st and 2nd November, although other days, such as 31st October or 6th November, may be included depending on the locality.

Friday 11 March 2022

Cicely Mary Hamilton (1872 – 1952) – poet, actress, writer, playwright, journalist, suffragist

Cicely by Lena Connell
Cicely Mary Hammill was born on 15th June 1872, in Paddington, London, UK.  Her parents were Maude Mary Florence Hammill, nee Piers, and Denzil Hammill, a British Army Officer.   Cicely had three younger siblings, a sister - Evelyn Maud, b. 1873 - and two brothers – John Eustace, b. 1875 and Charles Raymond, b. 1879.

Educated initially at a boarding school in Malvern, Worcestershire, a cousin of her father’s then paid for Cicely to continue her education at a school in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Germany, where she learnt German.  

Cicely became a teacher and taught at a school in the West Midland.  She then joined a touring theatrical company as an actress, taking the stage/pen name "Cicely Hamilton" out of consideration for her family. 

In 1908, Cicely and fellow actress Bessie Hatton founded the Women Writers' Suffrage League, which attracted around 400 members.  Among the members were Ivy Compton-Burnett, Sarah Grand, Violet Hunt, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Alice Meynell, Olive Schreiner, Evelyn Sharp, May Sinclair and Margaret L. Woods.  

The League produced campaigning literature, written by May Sinclair amongst others, and also recruited many prominent male supporters.

"The March of the Women" – the Suffragette’s song - was composed by Ethel Smyth in 1910 with words written by Cicely. 

During the First World War, Cicely joined a unit of the Scottish Women's Hospitals and worked in France.  She went on to join the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) and after training took command of a postal unit in France.   

Due to her acting experience, Cicely also joined a troupe entertaining the troops. The Women Writers Suffrage League helped establish a library at Endell Street Military Hospital, and helped organise recreation at the hospital, which was run and staffed entirely by women.  

Cicely’s brother, Charles Raymond Hammill, who went to live in Australia, joined the Australian Army, AIF and was wounded in May 1917 at the Battle of Bullecourt.  After recovering, he served under Monash with the 4th Battalion of the AIF during the advance on Hargicourt and was killed on 18th September 1918 – his 39th birthday. 

After a career in journalism and writing playes, Cicely died in Chelsea, London, UK on 6th December 1952.

One of Cicely’s most famous plays is “Diana of Dobson’s” about women who worked in a department store. 

Cicely had a poem published in five WW1 anthologies, of which this is one:

From “Lest we forget: A War Anthology” compiled by H.B. Elliott (Jarrold, London, 1915) with a Foreword by Baroness Orczy pp. 117 - 118

NOTE:  Ethel Smyth composed the music for "The March  of the Women" in 1910, as a unison song with optional piano accompaniment, with words by Cicely Hamilton. Ethel based the melody on a traditional tune she had heard in Abruzzo, Italy and dedicated the song to the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). In January 1911, the WSPU's newspaper, “Votes for Women”, described the song as "at once a hymn and a call to battle". Ethel did not agree with the support Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel gave to the war effort in 1914, but nevertheless, she trained as a radiographer in Paris. 

Ethel Smyth by John Singer

"The March of the Women" was first performed on 21st January 1911, by the Suffrage Choir, at a ceremony held on Pall Mall in London, UK, to celebrate the release of some activists from prison. 

Emmeline Pankhurst introduced the song as the WSPU's official anthem, replacing "The Women's Marseillaise", a setting of words by WSPU activist Florence Macaulay to the tune of La Marseillaise.

In 1922, Ethel became the first female composer to be appointed D.B.E. for services to music, becoming known as Dame Ethel Smyth.


Catherine W. Reilly.-   “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 155

“Lest we forget: A War Anthology” compiled by H.B. Elliott (Jarrold, London, 1915) 

Saturday 5 February 2022

Evelyn Mary Shillito, nee Trengrouse (1874 – 1924) – British poet

With thanks to Lynn Shillito, who is married to Evelyn's Great-Grandson, for contacting me and telling me about Evelyn and sharing her poetry collection with me.

Evelyn Mary Trengrouse was born in Mortlake, Surrey, UK in 1874 to Henry Trengrouse and his wife Mary, nee Walrond.  Evelyn was baptised on 15th May 1874.  Evelyn’s siblings were Henry T. Trengrouse, Louisa C. Trengrouse, Mabel W. Trengrouse and Arthur P. Trengrouse. 

On 5th July 1893, Evelyn married the Reverend William Francis Shillito. The couple had the following children: Dorothy Mary Shillito, James Trueman Shillito and Marjorie Constance Shillito.

During the First World War, Evelyn and her daughter, Dorothy helped the war effort by caring for the sick and wounded. 

Lynn Shillito is in the process of editing a new edition of  the collection of poems by Evelyn Shillito published in 1925 by “The Surbiton Times” with the title “'Patriot Mothers and other Poems”, after her untimely death in December 1924. 

Lynn says:

I have had the privilege of reviewing Evelyn’s poems, making just a few slight changes, and rearranging them into an appropriate order. Many of the themes are just as relevant today as they were in 1921, so it is a pleasure to freshen them up for today's readers to enjoy, 100 years later.

Through her poems we learn of the times in which she lived and of her dreams and her fears, written with such honesty and clarity; none more so than during and after the First World War. Her son Jim served in France in the 'Great War' (1914-1918), while back in the Home Counties, Evelyn and her daughter Dorothy were taking care of the sick and wounded with the British Red Cross. In her poems, Evelyn occasionally refers to Jim as John and to her younger daughter Marjorie as May.

​It is possible that Mrs. Shillito might have wished to make some emendations in these verses if she had known that they would be printed, but it has been thought better to issue them just as they were left by her.

Archery Champion, Oxford
The family have always had an interest in family history.  Once the ancestral boxes came out of the attic, I knew I had a job to do. Delving into Evelyn's life has been really enjoyable. As a family we knew and talked about her Archery winnings, a poetry book was quietly mentioned, along with a Christmas carol, (which we had recorded in December 2021). 

Lynn Shillito, 2021

One of Evelyn's poems:


Beloved! Now so far from me, alas!

My thoughts stretch out to bridge the rolling sea

Between us, that in spirit I may pass —

Communion sweet, awhile, to hold with thee.

The superstitious sailor, I am told,

Above all other things a caul doth prize,

Because he thinks ’twill save him from a cold

And watery death, if sudden storms arise.

And though I smile at the credulity,

Which prompts a man to carry such a charm;

Fond dreams and tender fancies come to me,

Born of my wish to shelter thee from harm.

Would I might weave, upon the loom of prayer,

With warp of love and woof of ardent zeal,

A web, invisible and light as air,

Fine as a silken thread, yet strong as steel.

For of such fabric, I would make a shield

An all protective covering for thee

The which should keep thee safe on battlefield

And help thee to confound the enemy.

Evelyn Mary Shillito, June 1918.

Evelyn's daughter Dorothy Shillito
WW1 Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.)
British Red Cross Record Card

Photographs of Evelyn kindly supplied by Lynn Shillito.

Sources for additional information: Find my Past, Free BMD and British Red Cross WW1 website