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Friday, 12 December 2014

Book Review: "Female Poets Of The First World War - Volume 1" Compiled by Lucy London

The TV and newspapers are full of the World War 1 centenary at present - and quite rightly so as we need to remember what went on a hundred years ago.  Much is written and said about the “soldier poets in the trenches” but hardly anybody mentions women in the conflict – except as nurses, drivers or munitions workers.

That fact is that there were hundreds of women who wrote during the First World War – as journalists, diarists and, indeed, poets. Some of the female writers included in this book - like May Sinclair - were very well know at the time of the war but have fallen from prominence since – and others like Agatha Christie have become well known since but nobody knows now that she actually wrote poetry back then.

So the good thing about this book is that tell us about all sorts of women who wrote poetry during the war - from the American doyenne Ella Wheeler Wilcox who many years beforehand had written the famous lines “laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone”  and toured the US army depots in France giving poetry reading and lectures on “moral hygiene” to the soldiers right down to teenage girls at Downe House public school like Audrey Lucas who would later go on to achieve great things in adulthood.

There are poets from all the main countries that took part in the Great War – British Empire, USA, France, Germany, Austria Hungary, Russia , Serbia & Italy and also from some that you may not even know were involved such as Portugal, China and Japan.

A great many of the poems are written in English but many of the foreign language poems have been left in their original language.  Compiler Lucy London has done this on purpose as she wants the original poems to speak for themselves as the writer intended, rather than putting a translator’s spin on them.  

This is not an “academic” work - it doesn’t dissect the poems and make comments about rhyming schemes and stanza structures   but what it does do is gives the reader a broad taste of the different poets and their works and is aimed at a general readership.  If, having read this book, you then want to find out more about the individual poets and their writings, you can go off and do so but, then again, if this is the only book you ever read about female war poets, then you will still have very good grounding.

A “Female Poets Of The First World War - Volume 2” is planned for publication during 2015 and there is also a companion volume out now called “No Woman’s Land – A Centenary Tribute To Inspirational Women Of World War One” which looks at the lives and deeds of non –poets  during the Great War period.

You can buy “Female Poets Of The First World War - Volume 1” by mail order  HERE  and “No Woman’s Land”  HERE

You can also purchase on Amazon HERE
There is lots more information about Female War Poets at