Saturday 21 October 2023

Barbara Euphan Todd (1890 – 1976) – British writer and poet best known for her ten books for children about a scarecrow called Worzel Gummidge.

Barbara Euphan Todd was born in Arksey, near Doncaster, which was then in the West Riding of Yorkshire, UK on 9th January 1890. Her parents were Anglican Church Vicar Thomas Todd and his wife Alice Maud Mary Todd, (née Bentham). Barbara was brought up in the village of Soberton, Hampshire. Educated at St Catherine's School, Bramley, near Guildford, Surrey.

Barbara left school in 1914, and during the First World War initially worked on the land in Surrey, before joining the British Red Cross VAD in Yorkshire.   From 12/12/1917 until 15/02/1919 she worked in Loversall Hall Auxiliary Hospital in Doncaster.  Loversall Hall Hospital was opened as a Red Cross Ausiliary Hospital in 1914 by Mrs Sophia Skipwith, who owned the Hall.  The Loversall Hall Auxiliary Hospital provided 100 beds. (See Inspirational Women of WW1 weblog for more information about Sophia Skipwith).

After her father's retirement, Barbara lived with her parents in Surrey and began writing. In 1932, she married Commander John Graham Bower (1886 –1940), a retired naval officer. They had no children, but from a previous marriage he had a child - Ursula Graham Bower - who became an anthropologist.

Barbara died in a nursing home in Donnington, Berkshire on 2nd February 1976. Her stepdaughter remembered her as "warm and kind", but recalled mainly her "dry – and sometimes wry – sense of humour", the hallmark of her Worzel Gummidge books.

Barbara's Red Cross WW1 record card


Quite by chance a poem recently written by my friend Linda Copp in America, which she posted on Facebook, led me to look for the author of the "Worzel Gummidge" books.  Although Barbara was a poet AND worked as a VAD during WW1, I haven't yet been able to find any WW1 poems by her. If anyone can help please get in touch. 

Linda has very kindly given me permission to share her lovely poem with you:

"The Scarecrow" By Linda Copp ©

Mr. Scarecrow, you're much too meek,

you're much too gentle, mild.

You're much too kind to scare a crow

or even shun, a child.

In your funny coat, patched and bright

bluey-greens, and buttons gold.

You haven't any un-lite' spots,

least none I can behold.

A smile is crayoned cross the broom,

that stands out as your head.

Its bristles point the other way,

beneath a hat of red.

And painted on that one time sweep,

a funny face, a smirk,

It isn't quite that mean enough,

to let the scaring work.

Your laughter seems to change it,

into a silly grin.

Your gentle eyes of charcoal,

reflect a glow within.

And glow is what you must do,

your colors, dress, and face,

They turned you from intended stress,

into the scare's disgrace.

For the crows, they fly above you

they light upon your brow.

It seems they mock and mimic you

but, to their taunts, you mustn't bow.

For the children they all love you,

you're their very best of friend.

You give them light and magic,

from that heart that shines within.

And so, as straw arms reach out,

to children, love and care,

It's really then no wonder,

My scarecrow, you can not scare.

And though you feel a failure,

so often at your job,

You mustn't fall to sighing,

Oh no, You mustn't sob.

For you've achieved a rarer goal,

than once was one day planned,

You've remained yourself, a friend,

straw borders you have spanned.

And no, you needn't worry,

No, you needn't fret,

Though, they can't see your troubled heart,

broken with regret.

Sunshine, is your master.

Scariness is your foe.

The worlds demands you shackled,

by a heart too kind to know,

That cold and darkness have to be,

a part of any day,

That warmth and sunshine often are lost,

forgotten in their way.

Now, though they call you Scarecrow

there's no villain in your soul.

You've failed at what their names implied

but are names the only goal?

For you're one who has to laugh and sing, 

scary things, you cannot do.

You have to cheer the dreary skies.

You have to turn them blue.

You can't conceal that silly smile,

that wants to be a friend.

You can't be mean and angry,

you can't a teardrop lend.

No, no, my friend, you mustn't cry.

You mustn't feel you've failed.

For, in the end, you did what's right,

your inner self prevailed.

And this is much more a victory,

then you can now, believe.

You've done a harder, wiser, task,

than any crow, could leave.

Pumpkins, children, and the like

kiss you on this morn.

Thank you for your silly mask,

that couldn't hurt and scorn.

And bless you for your loving heart,

your hand a golden glove,

That managed to maintain the touch

that harvested such love!

By Linda A. Copp © 1970


“Worzel Gummidge” - a British television fantasy comedy series, produced by Southern Television for ITV, based on the Worzel Gummidge books by English author Barbara Euphan Todd. The programme starred Jon Pertwee as the titular scarecrow and Una Stubbs as Aunt Sally. It ran for four series in the UK from 1979 to 1981. On a countdown of the greatest British children's programmes, this series was number 50 in the 50 Greatest Kids TV Shows on Channel 5 on 8 November 2013. "Worzel's Song", sung by Jon Pertwee, was released in 1980, reaching number 33 in the UK charts.

Channel 4 reprised the show in 1987 as Worzel Gummidge Down Under, which was set in New Zealand.

A 2019 series starring Mackenzie Crook (photo right) as Wurzel, was produced by Leopard Pictures and broadcast by BBC One on 26 and 27 December 2019. Mackenzie Crook also wrote and directed the series. A third episode was announced as in production by the BBC on 8 September 2020, and was broadcast on Christmas Eve 2020.

A fourth episode had been set to broadcast in 2020 but production ceased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That episode was broadcast on 6 November 2021, with two further episodes broadcast on the BBC in late December 2021.

Monday 16 October 2023

Mary E. Bond (1897 - 1988) – student poet of WW1

With thanks to Historian Andrew Mackay for finding this poem and poet for us.

Postcard with Mary's poem - sold in aid of
WW1 soldiers' comforts and printed
in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Born in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, UK in November 1897,  Mary's parents were Charles Bond, a coalminer, and his wife, Annie Bond, who was born in Ireland.  The family lived in Oswaldtwistle, Blackburn, Lancashire.  

Mary Ellen Bond was a student at the time of writing this poem and attended Bank Top Congregational Sunday School.  

Mary died in 1988 in Blackburn, Lancashire.  

If anyone has any further information about Mary, has a photograph and/or knows if she wrote any other poems please get in touch.

Bank Top is in Blackburn with Darwen in the County of Lancashire, United Kingdom.

Soldiers’ Comforts 

Almost 18,000 charities were set up to assist people during the First World War.  


Postcard from Andrew Mackay,  
Find my Past website

Friday 13 October 2023

Florence A. Vicars (1870 - ? ) – Poet

While researching another WW1 poet with a similar name - Ambrose Vickers - I noticed an entry in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" on page 322 about Florence A. Vicars.  

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out much about Florence.  According to an entry I found through the Find my Past website, she was born in England and married an Irishman called Joseph J.S. Vickars, who was born in Ireland in 1845.  They seem to have travelled to Canada in 1911.  And there is an entry on the 1911 Census in Canada that lists them as living in Toronto West, Ontario.  If anyone knows anything about Florence please get in touch.

Here is one of Florence's poems:

“GOLD STRIPES A Canadian Mother Speaks”

My Bert 'as just come 'ome again ; 'e walks a little lame, 

But thank the Lord 'e's got 'is eyes, 'is face is just the same ; 

I'm that glad the shrapnel miss'd it, I could look at 'im all day, 

Though I'd love 'im just as dearly if the 'al was shot away.

'E ain't so reg'lar 'andsome, and 'e ain't so ugly too, 

But just an average looker, the same as me and you. 

And there's not a prouder woman in Alberta, I believe, 

When I go out walkin' with 'im, with the gold stripes on 'is sleeve.

There's one 'e says 'e got by bein' just a bloomin' fool ; 

Fair mad 'e was that day the Boches bombed an infant school. 

There was cover for the takin', but 'e couldn't stop to take it; 

Through blood and tears 'e saw their line, and knew 'e 'ad to break it.

The other times, 'e says, 'twas just 'is duty that 'e done, 

And, once, I know, the orficers they thank'd 'im one by one.

So every day I thank the Lord for what we do receive, 

When I walk with Bert in khaki, with the gold stripes on 'is sleeve.

FLORENCE A. VICARS. The Westminster Gazette.

Published in  “WAR VERSE” EDITED BY FRANK FOXCROFT (THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY, NEW YORK , 1918) - p. 127    That poem was allso published in the “Yorkshire Evening Post”, Friday 30 November 1917 

Here is another of Florence's poems:

“Springtime in England A Memory of Exile” by Florence A Vicars, Toronto, 1916 published in the “Westminster Gazette” 4th May 1916. 

Sources: Find my Past, British Newspaper Archive 


Catherine W. Reilly.- "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) - page 322

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Ruth Collie, née Ruth Jacobs, (1888 - 1936) - British-born poet who started her writing career in Winnipeg, Manitoba – whose pen names were Wilhelmina Stitch and Sheila Rand

With thanks to Stanley Kaye (the Poppy Man) for finding this poet for us.  

Ruth Jacobs was born in November 1888 in Cambridge, UK. She was the eldest of three children born to Isiah Wolf Jacobs, a bookseller and accountant, and his wife, Josephine Jacobs, nee Hast. Her maternal grandfather was Marcus Hast, a Hebrew composer who spent 40 years as Rabbi at the Great Synagogue of London.

In 1908, Ruth's future husband, Elisha Arakie Cohen, a lawyer who worked for the firm Daly, Crichton and McClure in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, travelled to England where he met  Ruth. They were married and returned to Winnipeg. In 1910 their son - Ralph - was born.

In 1913, Ruth began writing book reviews for the “Winnipeg Telegram” using the pen name Sheila Rand. In 1917 she was hired as an editor and regularly published poems and short stories. By January 1919, the “Telegram” was in financial trouble and she was recruited by the “Winnipeg Tribune”, where she started to write a column called "What to Read... and What Not." The column included book reviews and also poems she wrote. 

Following the death of her husband in March 1919, Ruth began working at Eaton's, writing advertising copy for their catalogues. She continued to write for the “Tribune” and became literary editor of “Western Home Monthly”. She was also elected vice-president of the Canadian Authors' Association, which led to regular speaking engagements. In 1922, Ruth signed a deal to publish her poetry in several North American newspapers and began to write under a new pen name, Wilhelmina Stitch.

In 1923 Ruth moved back to England to further her son's education. He became a  professor of economics. In 1924, she married Frank Collie, a physician from Scotland. Ruth resumed her writing career and submitted poetry to the “London Daily Graphic”. Her daily poetry earned her the nickname, "the poem a day lady." Her poetry made her name well known and she was regularly called on to speak for community groups. In 1930, Ruth went on a two-month speaking tour of North America where she spoke every day for 50 days.

Ruth died in London in 1936 after a brief illness at the age of 48. 

Memorial plaque dedicated to Ruth Collie under her pen name Wilhelmina Stitch at Golders Green Crematorium. Photograph by Stanley Kaye. 


FOR thirteen years, 

Each first of June, 

We marked our heights upon the schoolroom door. 

With girlish jeers, 

Each first of June, 

I scoffed, O cousin, you must grow still more 

If you would be as tall as I 

Next first of June ! 

My solemn, pale-faced cousin, Fie ! 

To let me win the race. 


Ah me! To-day, 

This first of June, 

They wrote that you in Flanders found a grave. 

So now I say, 

This first of June,   

‘O pale-faced cousin, sleeping with the brave, 

Would I could grow as tall as you 

Next first of June, 

And stride, as British heroes do, 

With head above the clouds!’ 

From: “Canadian Poems of the Great War.” Edited by John W. Garvin, (McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1918) – page 184. 

As this WW1 Anthology is available to read as a free download on Archive, you can also read other poems by Ruth published in that volume on pages 183 – 186.

Other sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and Wikipedia.

Portrait of Ruth taken  by Howard Coster National Portrait Gallery NPG x93858

Howard Sydney Musgrave Coster (27 April 1885 – 17 November 1959) was a British photographer. After serving in the RAF during WW1, he opened a studio in London in 1926. 

Friday 21 July 2023

Enid B. Petre (1890 - 1962) – Britsh poet

With grateful thanks to Historian, Writer and Poet AC Benus* for reminding me that, although Enid Petre was already on the List of Female Poets of the First World War, I had not yet researched and written  a post about her.  

Enid Beatrice Petre was born on 3rd March 1890 in Aligarh, Bengal, India. Her parents were Francis Loraine Petre, a civil servant who worked in India, and his wife, Maude Ellen Petre, nee Rawlinson, who were married in Bengal in 1887. 

In the 1901 England, Wales & Scotland Census, the family were living at No. 27, Gledhow Gardens, Kensington, London, UK.  

During the First World War, Enid served as a nurse with the British Red Cross as a VAD from 19th November 1917 until 28th February 1918.   According to her WW1 British Red Cross VAD Record Card, it seems that Enid worked at the Royal Free Military Hospital in London.

On the 1921 Census, Enid is recorded as living at No. 25 Golborne Street in Kensington, London, UK.  

Enid died on 13th October 1962.

Enid’s WW1 poetry collections were:

“Autumn Leaves, 1915” (A.L. Humphreys, 1916)

“Fallen Petals: Poems” (A.L. Humphreys, 1917)

Sources:  Find my Past

Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 252

*AC Benus is the author of a book about German WW1 poet Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele : “The Thousandth Regiment: A Translation of and Commentary on Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele’s War Poems” by AC Benus (AC Benus, San Francisco, 2020). Along with Hans's story, the book includes original poems as well as translations.    ISBN: 978-1657220584

Saturday 1 July 2023

Daisy Minnie Hannah Jones (1895 - 1980) – British poet

 A wonderful poem posted on the Facebook Group Cemeteries and Memorials of the Great War by Dave Barlee, on 26 June 2023 

Dave is Daisy’s grandson.  He gave me permission and sent me some poems plus some information about and a photograph of Daisy.  Dave tells us:

“Daisy penned this poem in September 1914 to my grandfather, William John Jones, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards:

“To W.J.J.”

When across the foaming billows

To a near, but foreign shore

When with all equipment laden

You are marching off to war :-

N’ere forget that one is thinking

Thinking of you far away

Praying that from midst wars rampant 

Safely you’ll return one day

x x x x x x 

When you are in the midst of dangers

And around you comrades fall

When with still undaunted courage 

You are answering duty’s call

Think that there’s one in England 

Who doth for you wait, and pray

That through all encircling dangers 

Safely you’ll return one day

x x x x x x 

When the war at last is ended

And the longed for reign of peace

Over- throws his welcome mantle

And the noise of battles cease:-

Even then shall one be thinking

Thinking of you day by day

Counting how long you’ll be coming

From the war field far away

x x x x x x

A poem from Daisy's notebook
in her own handwriting

Born Daisy Minnie Hannah Cook in Epsom in 1895, when Daisy left school she went into service. She was 19 when she wrote to William John Jones, who had been called back to the colours at the start of the war. I’m not sure where she met him as he was from Neath in South Wales. I presume it must have been when he was in the London area when he joined the Grenadier Guards.

William had served his time by 1916 and was discharged and continued with his job as a steel worker. They moved to Deeside, Flinshire, North Wales. After the death of William, Daisy remarried and became Daisy Thomas. She died in Flintshire in 1980.  

Grandmother was fantastic with her hands and made lace and could do macrame and tatting and was a seamstress too. As I said - a clever lady! 

She wrote quite a lot of poetry in her younger days. The above poems are related to the Great War.”

Additional information:

We find Daisy, married to William John Jones, living in Flintshire, Wales.  By then the couple had a son – Elwyn Idris - and a daughter – Glenys May. 

Original source: Group Cemeteries and Memorials of the Great War 

You can find out more about the importance of cigarettes for the troops fighting on the various Fronts during WW1 here:

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Ruth Pitter, CBE (1897 - 1992) – British poet and artist

Ruth was born Emma Thomas Ruth Pitter in Ilford, Essex, UK on 7th November 1897. However, her birth certificate records her Christian name as just being "Ruth."  Her parents were George Pitter and his wife, Louisa Pitter, nee Murrell, who were both primary school teachers.  Ruth was educated at the Coborn School for Girls in London. 

During the First World War, Ruth was employed at the War Office from 1915 to 1917. She went on to work as an artist at a furniture company in Suffolk -Walberswick Peasant Pottery Co.

Ruth’s parents encouraged her to write poetry from an early age.  In 1920, she published her first collection of poems – “First Poems” (London: Cecil Palmer, 1920) - with the help of the poet Hilaire Belloc.

Ruth was the first woman to receive the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, which she was awarded in 1955. In 1979 she was appointed appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), to honour her many contributions to English literature.  In 1974, Ruth was named a "Companion of Literature", the highest honour given by the Royal Society of Literature.

After a long and very industrious life during which she published a good deal of her poems, Ruth died on 29th February 1992.

(NOTE; Prisca Coborn or Cobourne (1622-1701), the widow of a Bow brewer, left property at Bow, Stratford, and Bocking (Essex) to maintain a school for not more than 50 poor children at Bow; the boys were to learn reading, writing, and accounts, and the girls reading, writing, and needlework. The Coopers' Girls' School at 86 Bow Road was renamed Coborn School and moved to new buildings at 31-33 Bow Road, London, E 3 in 1898.)

Sources:  Free BMD, Find my Past

Wednesday 10 May 2023

Ethel Turner (1870 – 1958) - British-born Australian novelist, poet and children's literature writer.

My grateful thanks to Rupert Brooke Remembered on Facebook, for posting the poem about Rupert Brooke written by Ethel , with additional information about Ethel on which enabled me to amend my previous mentions of Ethel.  

Born Ethel Mary Burwell on 24th January 1870 in Balby, a suburb of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, UK, her parents were Bennett George Burwell, who was a commercial traveller (salesman), and his wife, Sarah Jane Burwell, nee Shaw. Ethel’s father died when she was two, leaving a Sarah Jane a widow with two daughters - Ethel and her sister Lillian, who was born in 1867.  Following her remarriage to Henry Turner, who was 20 years her senior and had six children of his own, Sarah Jane and Henry had a daughter, Rose. Henry Turner died suddenly, leaving Sarah Jane with nine children. In 1879, Sarah Jane moved to Australia with Lilian, Ethel and Rose.  

Educated at Paddington, New South Wales Public School and Sydney Girls High School, Ethel began her writing career when she was eighteen, founding the “Parthenon”, a journal for young people, with her sister Lillian. Using the pen-name 'Dame Durden', Ethel wrote children's columns for the “Illustrated Sydney News” and the “Australian Town and Country Journal”.

In 1896, Ethel married Herbert Curlewis, a lawyer. 

During the First World War (1914-1918) Ethel demonstrated that she was a staunch patriot - she worked hard on patriotic campaigns, including advocacy for conscription, Australian intake of European war orphans and raising funds for soldiers’ homes. 

In 1915, along with other fundraising work, Ethel wrote a song to raise money for the Red Cross.  She also campaigned for the early closing of hotels and “sobriety in wartime” (1915), as well as giving support to the wartime referendum for the 6 o’clock closing of pubs (1916). 

In order to raise money for soldiers returning to Australia after the war, Ethel co-edited “The Australian Soldiers’ Gift Book” with Bertram Stevens (Voluntary Workers' Association, Sydney, N.S.W.,1918).

Ethel died on 8th April 1958 and was buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery in Sydney.

Ethel's poem about WW1 poet Rupert Brooke, which was published in "Poetry Magazine", edited by Harriet Monroe, in June 1924:


Find my Past, FreeBMD

Monday 10 April 2023

Ada Tessibel Peters, born c. 1901 and Ethel Pauline Peters, born c. 1903 – American sisters who were both poets

 With grateful thanks to Historian, Poet and Writer AC Benus* for finding these important poets and their poetry for us

The girls’ parents were Robert E. Peters and his wife Ethel Peters, nee Hughes, and the family lived in Beckley, West Virginia., United States of America.    

"The sisters were known in the poetical world as "The Peters Sisters." The Peters Sisters have had very limited education. Each of them spent one and one half years in high school at the Institute. West Virginia. Their teacher was Prof. Byrd Prillerman."

By William F. Denny from The Introduction to their poetry collection “War poems” by Ada Tessibel Peters and Ethel Pauline Peters (Union publishing Co., Charleston, West Virginia, 1919). 


The sole intention of the Authors in writing these poems is to show the Negro's loyalty to the Stars and Stripes, in the war with Germany; and to show  the need of unity of all men in the fight for democracy. The Authors.” From the sisters' WW1 collection “War poems” by Ada Tessibel Peters and Ethel Pauline Peters (Union publishing Co., Charleston, West Virginia, 1919) 

OUR WAR WITH GERMANY. Poem by Ada Tessibel Peters


America and her Allies are now engaged 

In a war that freedom might live, 

That all nations may not be enslaved 

Giving as all True Americans would give 

Fighting lest Germany's Kaiser should spread 

The spirit of feudalism over the earth, 

That the Sons of Liberty may not be led 

Captives from the land of their birth. 


While foreign field were strewn with dead 

With folded arms we merely looked on 

'Till the wronged people believed and said 

"They are gamblers, in search of coin." 

We became apoligist for our neutriality 

While an uncivilized war waged on 

Devoid of all principle and morality 

Urged on by brutes in human form. 


When the country of Belgium was invaded 

And It's inhabitants tortured and slain 

When other defenseless towns were raided 

And mines in neutral waters were lain 

When the smoldering ruins of France we saw 

The home of the world's greatest arts 

Then Humanity forced us into this war 

For America too, must do her part. 


The Imperial German Government smiled

When the Sussex, and Lusitania went down 

Unwarningly murdering American lives 

While on peaceful missions bound 

Should not this wicked and hideous crime 

That sent our friends to watery graves 

Help more close our hearts to bind 

And strengthen us on our rugged way?

“War Poems” Pages 9 – 10 

read the remainder of the poem – pages 10 – 15  here



Oh wandering pilgrims of Virginia, 

Who made you noted men. 

Whom was ever your defender. 

And proved old Glory's friend. 

Was it not back in sixteen 

For slaves of your selfish will. 

When your unfree tongues were still, 

You ignorantly bought pearls unseen, 

For slaves of your selfish will. 


In vales and on historic hills, 

Where your gallant heroes sleep, 

Once Ethiophians your soil tilled, 

From dawn till sunset peace. 

Raised grain and your cattle fed, 

In your business planned and advised, 

Without place to lay their heads 

Your own pearls unrecognized. 

Your own pearls unrecognised.


From tobacco made you wealthy, 

Your cruelty was humbly borne 

Slave cooks made you healthy,  

Black boys protected your homes, 

With maimed bodies and chained hands, 

Died to make your sons free, 

Rare gems in a slave land. 

Robbed of rights and liberty. 

From “War Poems” page 48). Read the remainder of the poem on pages 49 - 51 here

Sources:  Find my Past and

*AC Benus is the author of a book about German WW1 poet Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele : “The Thousandth Regiment: A Translation of and Commentary on Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele’s War Poems” by AC Benus (AC Benus, San Francisco, 2020). Along with Hans's story, the book includes original poems as well as translations.    ISBN: 978-1657220584

Friday 7 April 2023

A poem by American poet Lucy Larcom published in "Bystander" Magazine in 1917

 Although the writer of this lovely poem - found for us by Historian Debbie Cameron - was not alive during WW1 - the sentiments in the poem are fitting for WW1 and it was published in "The Bystander" magazine in April 1917 – which is why I have included it here.

Lucy Larcom (March 5, 1824 – April 17, 1893) was an American teacher, poet, and author. 

Lucy was born in Beverley, Massachusetts on 5th March 1824.  Her parents were Benjamin and Lois Larcom.

After the death of Lucy's father, Lucy's Mother went to work in a boarding house in Lowell, where the girls who worked in Lowell's textile mills lived.  Lucy and her siblings found employment in the mills and Lucy wrote about her experiences.

Here is the poem published in "Bystander":

“Do Something” published in The “Bystander”, April 1917 

IF the world seems cool to you,

Kindle fires to warm it!

Let their comfort hide from you

Winters that deform it.

Hearts as frozen as your own

To that radiance gather;

You will soon forget to moan,

"Ah! the cheerless weather!"

If the world's a "vale of tears,"

Smile till rainbows span it;

Breathe the love that life endears --

Clear from clouds to fan it.

Of your gladness lend a gleam

Unto souls that shiver;

Show them how dark sorrow's stream

Blends with hope's bright river.

Lucy Larcom

The "Bystander" was a British weekly tabloid magazine that featured reviews, topical drawings, cartoons, poems and short stories. Published from Fleet Street, it was established in 1903 by George Holt Thomas.

Historian Debbie Cameron is the creator of the Group Group Remembering British Women in WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas

Thursday 16 March 2023

Ella D. Farrar (1866 - 1929) – journalist, writer and poet

With thanks to Debbie Cameron and Michael Day for their research into Ella D. Farrar 

WW1 poem found by Debbie and Biographical details found by Michael Day

Ella D. Farrar was born in 1866 in Hartlepool, Durham, UK.  Her parents were William Farrar and his wife, Mary Anne Farrar, nee Edwards.   Ella had a sister – Hilda M. Farrar – who was born in 1869.  

On the 1881 Census, we find Ella boarding  - presumably at school – in Reweley House, 7, Welington Square, Oxford St Giles, Headington, Oxfordshire, UK.  It seems Ella may have been a teacher before becoming a journalist and writer.  

On the 1911 Census, Ella is described at a writer and sub-editor for the Amalgamated Press. By 1921, Ella and her sister were living in Hemel Hempstead, Great Gaddesden, Hertfordshire, UK, where Ella died in 1929. 

The poem was found by Debbie Cameron and posted on her Facebook Group

“Forget-me-Not – A Pictorial Journal for the Home’ ,which began publication in 1891, was one of the many periodicals founded by Alfred Harmsworth. Along with “Answers” (1888) and “Comic Cuts” (1890), “Forget-Me-Not”(1891) was the backbone of what was on its way to becoming the largest publishing empire in the world, the Amalgamated Press. Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865 – 14 August 1922), was a British newspaper and publishing magnate. As owner of the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror, he was an early developer of popular journalism, and he exercised vast influence over British popular opinion during the Edwardian era. Lord Beaverbrook said he was "the greatest figure who ever strode down Fleet Street."

“Forget-Me-Not” was based in London’s Tudor Street, which runs south to the Thames from Fleet Street, with the advertising sold by Greenberg & Co. just up the road at 80 Chancery Lane. The imprint reveals a third address, for “Forget-Me-Not” was printed by The Geraldine Press at 21 Whitefriars St, which runs parallel to Fleet St but nearer the Thames.

Like all the penny magazines, it was a cheap affair though, on newsprint with a greenish cover not unlike “Tit-Bits”, the model for “Answers”, for which Alfred had worked. The masthead page inside described “Forget-Me-Not” as ‘the most useful home paper’ and it carried fashion hints and articles on fancy work and households management, as well as fiction. The best illustrations were saved for the paper patterns that readers had to send for at a shilling or two each. None of the articles or illustrations carried a byline.

Most of the pages carried marketing messages printed at the bottom such as: 'Forget-Me-Not is a great help to young couples in all household matters’; ‘Home, Sweet Home [another Amalgamated title] is published on Fridays – 1d’; ‘Answers is the paper for a railway journey’; and ‘This paper is published every Thursday’. 

Amalgamated Press aimed to have a magazine for all types of readers with three women’s weeklies, the smaller format “Home Chat” making up the trio. 

One of the editors of Forget-Me-Not, a Hungarian called Arkas Sapt, has been credited with developing a new way of publishing several pictures on a spread, a technique that was to be vital in reinvigorating the Daily Mirror as an illustrated paper after its flagging launch.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD

Wednesday 15 March 2023

Ethel Stonehouse (1888 - 1974) – British poet

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this wonderful poem written after WW1 by Ethel, and to Philip Michael Tomaselli for additional information about Ethel.

Ethel was born Ethel Raine on 3rd June 1888.  It seems her father may have been Raine, Walter, J.P., M.P. Chairman of J. Raine & Son Ltd., Coal Exporters and Shipbrokers, Sunderland and Newcastle-on-Tyne, but I haven't been able to find that out for certain.  If anyone can help please get in touch.  

During the First World War, Ethel was as “a member of the British Security Service between 1915 and 1920, working in the Military Permit Office, which issued permits for civilians to visit the Military Zone in Northern France (also Egypt and other places under army control). This included a fast track system to allow relatives of soldiers in hospital in France who were dying to visit with the minimum of paperwork (which they had to complete on their way back...).

In 1920, Ethel married Daniel Wilfred Stonehouse (1883 – 1958), who had served in the Royal Garrison Artillery in WW1.  The couple had one son – Maximillian – born in July 1927 and  lived in Cottingham, Haltemprice in 1939.

Ethel died in 1974.

Here is the poem written by Ethel Stonehouse:

"Ave Atque Vale"  (Tr. From Latin Hail and Farewell)

When we have gone our different ways

And idle memory sometimes strays

To dim remember’d wartime days

When women toe’d the line,

We may from out some dusty nook

Produce this little Office book

And open it to take a look

For sake of auld lang syne.

We’ll think of when we had the ’flu,

The days we had to ‘muddle through’,

And all the work we used to do

To snare the wily Hun,

Of times when strafs were in the air

And worried secretaries would tear

Great handfuls of their flowing hair

And swear at everyone.

We’ll think with something like regret

Of all the jolly friends we met;

The jokes that we remember yet

Will once again revive.

Here’s to the book that’s just begun!

May it recall to every one

The jokes and laughter and the fun

We had in M. I. 5.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and

Debbie Cameron’s original source:

Here are links to Debbie Cameron’s Facebook Group Remembering British Women in WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas and her Weblog

Monday 23 January 2023

Naomi Mitchison, Baroness Mitchison CBE (1897 – 1999) – British writer and poet

While researching Naomi’s father, John Scott Haldane, for my WW1 commemorative weblog Fascinating Facts of the Great War, I realised that Naomi was a WW1 female poet.  She also served with the British Red Cross during the conflict.

Born Naomi Mary Margaret Haldane on 1st November 1897, Naomi’s parents were John Scott Haldane, a physician, and his wife, Louisa Kathleen, nee Coutts Trotter (1863–1961), daughter of Coutts Trotter FRGS and Harriet Augusta Keatinge. Naomi’s brother was J. B. S. Haldane – who became a scientist.

Naomi was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and was accepted to study at Oxford University by Lady Margaret Hall College.  However, when war broke out Naomi volunteered to serve with the Red Cross and trained as a Probationer at St Thomas, Hospital in 1917. She then served in the Outpatient Ward, Radcliffe Infirmary, followed by six months working mornings at Wingfield House Military Hospital, Trowbridge.

In 1916, Naomi married Gilbert Richard Mitchison -known as Dick - (1894 - 1970) in Oxford and from then on used her married name for her writing. 

British Red Cross WW1 Record Card
for Naomi

Naomi and Dick had seven children. Their four sons were:  Geoffrey (1918–1927), who died of meningitis, Denis (1919–2018), who became a professor of bacteriology, Murdoch (1922–2011), and Avrion (born 1928), who both became professors of zoology. Their three daughters were Lois (born 1926), Valentine (born 1928), and Clemency, who died in 1940, shortly after her birth.

After a long life and having written many books, Naomi died on 11th January 1999.

Naomi Mitchison’s poetry collections were: “The Laburnum Branch” (Jonathan Cape, London, 1926), in which “Green Boughs” was included on pages 59-60, and “The Cleansing of the Knife and Other Poems” (1978).

Here is one  of Naomi's poems:

“Green Boughs”

My young, dear friends are dead,

All my own generation.

Pity a youthless nation,

Pity the girls unwed,

Whose young lovers are dead.

They came from the gates of birth

To boyhood happy and strong,

To a youth of glorious days,

We give them honour and song,

And theirs, theirs is the praise.

But the old inherit the earth.

They knew what was right and wrong,

They were idealists,

Clean minds, my friends, my friends!

Artists and scientists,

Their lives that should have been long!

But everything lovely ends.

They came from college or school,

They did not falter or tire,

But the old, the stupid had rule

Over that eager nation,

And all my own generation

They have cast into the fire.


From The Skipper’s War – written by the Headmaster ‘Skipper’ Lynam about  pupils of the Dragon School, Oxford – February 12th 1916    “Yesterday, our dear young Naomi Haldane was married to Dick Mitchison, a 2nd Lieutenant with the Queen’s Bays. The marriage took place at the Oxford Registry Office on the High Street. Only a few friends (including Aldous Huxley, the editor of the literary magazine, ‘Oxford Poetry’) attended and the austerity of these times restrained them from holding a party.  We, however, celebrated by taking a half-holiday! Naomi has been training as a nurse at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London, but recently has been helping with the outpatients at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

It is only ten years since Naomi was performing on the OPS stage here in Romeo & Juliet.  How quickly our children grow up!”

March 12th 1921 by dpdevitt

“Naomi Mitchison nee Haldane 

One worthy Old Dragon: Naomi Mitchison (then Haldane), who qualified for the University of Oxford in 1914, having taken the Oxford higher local examination. She became a member of the Society of Oxford Home Students and was able to take a degree course in science. The outbreak of war in 1914 prevented her from completing the course, however, when she went off to train to become a nurse.”

Charles "Skipper" Cotterill Lynam (15 June 1858, Stoke-on-Trent – 27 October 1938) was an English headmaster, yachtsman, poet and author. In 1882 Lynam was appointed assistant master at the Oxford Preparatory School (now called the Dragon School). He became headmaster in 1886 and in 1895 moved the school from Crick Road to Bardwell Road into buildings designed by his father.  The ‘Blue Dragon’ was the name of Lynam’s yuacht. 

Additional Sources:

British Red Cross WW1 Records

Katharine Tynan (1859 – 1931) – Irish-born poet and writer

 With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron* for finding this information about a poem by Katherine Tynan, (1859–1931) – Irish poet

Katharine Tynan was born on 23rd January 1859 in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin.  Educated at a convent school in Drogheda, Katharine’s early childhood was spent in a thatched farmhouse surrounded by fields and orchards.  Her first poem was published when she was seventeed in a Dublin newspaper.  

In 1884, Katharine went to London for the first time and made friends with the poet Alice Meynell, whose husband, Wilfred, published Katharine’s first collection of poems – “Louise de la Valliere” in 1885.   In 1898, Katharine married Henry Albert Hinkson, a writer and barrister.   Apart from a brief sojourn in Ireland from 1914 until 1919, when her husband was a magistrate in Claremoris, Co. Mayo, the couple lived in England.

Katharine was living in Ireland during the First World War and two of her sons were serving overseas. Her collection “Herb o' Grace: Poems in War- Time” (1918) contained the lyric “The Dream,” which was subtitled “(For My Father).” 

Katharine Tynan was included in the second exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War and is in Volume 2 of “Female Poets of the First World War” – which, apart from other female poets, also contains poetry written by school girls during WW1 and a section on WW1 Knitting, which was kindly supplied by Phil Dawes.

Katharine’s WW1 collections were:

“Collected poems” (Macmillan, London, 1930); “Evensong” (Blackwell, Oxford, 1922); “Flower of youth: poems in wartime” (Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1915); Herb o’grace: poems in wartime” Sidgwick & Jackson, London 1918); “The Holy War” (Sidgwick & Jackson, London 1916); “Late songs” (Sidgwick  & Jackson, London, 1917); “Poems – edited and with an introduction by Monk Gibbon (Figgis, Dublin, 1963);  “Selected poems” (Benn, 1931); “Twilight songs” (Blackwell, Oxford, 1927).  She also had poems printed in eighteen WW1 poetry anthologies.

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St/ Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 320  Katharine Tynan Hinkson and the New Witness: "High Summer"; Mrs. Hinkson and the Nation (London): "New Heaven"; "After Jutland," "The Mother," and "At Parting," from “Late  Songs” (Sidgwick & Jackson, London).

“The Dream”

Autograph manuscript signed, [1917–1918]

“The Dream for my Father”

Over and over again I dream a dream,

I am coming home to you in the starlit gloam;

Long was the day from you and sweet 'twill seem

The day is over and I am coming home.

Then I shall find you as in days long past,

Sitting so quietly in the firelight glow;

'Love,' you will say to me, 'you are come at last.'

Your eyes be glad of me as long ago.

All I have won since then will slip my hold,

Dear love and children, the long years away;

I shall come home to you the girl of old,

Glad to come home to you -- oh, glad to stay!

Often and often I am dreaming yet

Of the firelit window when I've crossed the hill

And I coming home to you from night and wet:

Often and often I am dreaming still.

Over and over again I dream my dream.

Ah, why would it haunt me if it wasn't true?

I am travelling home to you by the last red gleam,

In the quiet evening I am finding you.

* Debbie Cameron’s Facebook Pages and Weblog can be found here:


Sunday 22 January 2023

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

I decided to find out if there were any schoolchildren who had poems about the First World War published in their school magazines, etc.  So I approached several schools with fantastic results. We arranged an exhibition in 2018

Exhibition panels 2018
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”. 

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. 

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.

The work of the Blue Cross in 
France, WW1*

‘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.

NOTE: The Blue Cross Animal Charity still exists today.  You can find more information about their work here:

* Photo caption:  ‘The care of the wounded horse in Northern France - the work of the Blue Cross at the Front, veterinary doctors receiving a wounded war horse for treatment at a Blue Cross station’ illustration by Fortunino Matania (1881-1963) This is a monochrome water-colour, measuring 14" x 21", published in “Sphere” Magazine, 27 February 1915.

Inez was included included in the second exhibition of Female Poets of the First World War and is in Volume 2 of “Female Poets of the First World War” – wich, apart from adult WW1 female poets, also contains poetry written by school girls during WW1 and a section on WW1 Knitting, which was kindly supplied by Phil Dawes.

Friday 20 January 2023

Susan Masefield - WW1 poet

Looking through the WW1 poets listed in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978), I noticed on page 219 a poet called Susan Masefield.  Susan had a poem included in two WW1 anthologies - "One Hundred best poems on the war" Ed. Charles Frederick Foreshaw (Elliot Stock, 1916) and "Poems in Memory of the late Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, K.G." Ed Charles Frederick Forshaw (Institute of British Poetry, Bradford, 1916).  

I have tried without success to find out something about Susan Masefield and wondered if she was the mother of WW1 soldier poet Charles John Beech Masefield, a cousin of the poet John Masefield?  

If anyone knows anything please get in touch. Thank you.Here are the poems by Susan Masefield:

“Original Lyric on “war” by S. Masefield 

‘Tis like throwing stones in water 

When Nations go to War, 

The circle widens ever, 

From centre unto shore. 

'Tis simple to begin it; 

But far-reaching is the end — 

Our British blood is boiling, 

And German pride won't bend. 

To read of all the slaughter 

Makes us shudder and turn pale — 

But I fear we've not yet heard 

The last of Britain's wail. 

God, save our noble Country ! 

God, send us quickly Peace ! 

God, make our hosts victorious !— 

God, make all wars to cease !

From One Hundred of the best poems on the war, Volume 2 By Women Poets of the Empire (Elliot Stock, 1916). Edited by Charles Frederick Forshaw. Page 99 



BENEATH a world of waters dark and deep ,

Low lies our Kitchener, alone, asleep

Sudden "God's finger touched him, and he slept,"

And we with saddened eyes the hero wept !

But still we hear the echo of his voice,

“Weep not! but carry on, and then rejoice !”

His work was done, the hardest "bit” of all, —

Willingly came the men who heard his call

Let all be ever proud who bear his name,

And Kitchener's Army "e'er be kept from shame !

For still we hear the echo of his voice, --

“Weep not ! but carry on, and soon rejoice !”

From “Poems in memory of the late Field-Marshal Lord Kitchener, K.G.” Edited by Charles F. Forshaw, Founder of the Institute of British Poetry (Institute of British Poetry, Bradford, Yorkshire, UK, 1916), page 150.