First World War Women: Their War, Their Lives, Their Stories – Vivien Newman
“NEWMAN ENCOMPASSES NOT JUST WOMEN’S EXPERIENCE OF WAR, BUT THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE OF WAR. HER WRITING IS INTUITIVE, INFORMATIVE AND ALWAYS ABSORBING.” – Karyn Burnham
“What a fascinating book! Dr Newman’s deft touch brings all ‘her’ women to sparkling life as we discover them… Like many people, I had an image of women as nurses or handing out white feathers and I had certainly never realized the varied roles they played nor the battles they had to fight and the injustices they faced when they wanted ‘to do their bit’.” – Lulu
WE ALSO SERVED
Dr Vivien Newman disturbs myths and preconceptions surrounding women’s war work and seeks to inform contemporary readers of countless acts of derring-do, determination, and quiet heroism by British women, that went on behind the scenes from 1914-1918. In August 1914 a mere 640 women had a clearly defined wartime role. Ignoring early War Office advice to ‘go home and sit still’, by 1918 hundreds of thousands of women from all corners of the world had lent their individual wills and collective strength to the Allied cause. As well as becoming nurses, munitions workers, and members of the Land Army, women were also ambulance drivers and surgeons; they served with the Armed Forces; funded and managed their own hospitals within sight and sound of the guns. At least one British woman bore arms, and over a thousand women lost their lives as a direct result of their involvement with the war. This book lets these all but forgotten women speak directly to us of their war, their lives, and their stories.
Nursing Through Shot and Shell
Nursing Through Shot and Shell is the previously unpublished memoir of Beatrice Hopkinson, who served in France as a Territorial Nursing Sister from 1917-19. Beatrice worked close to the front line at casualty clearing stations, and her poignant account reveals the intense strain: ‘I never realized what the word “duty” meant until this War. To stand at one’s post, never flinching and trying to keep the boys cheerful; all the time wondering when our time would come.’
The memoir reveals the lighter side of wartime life, with entertainments, travel and enduring friendships. Beatrice also describes the practical realities of war in vivid detail – sleeping in dug outs, dodging bombs and avoiding rats ‘as big as a good sized kitten’. A fascinating, close-up view of one women’s life during wartime.
TUMULT and TEARS
During the First World War and its immediate aftermath, hundreds of women wrote thousands of poems on multiple themes and for many different purposes. Women’s poetry was published, sold (sometimes to raise funds for charities as diverse as ‘Beef Tea for Troops’ or ‘The Blue Cross Fund for Warhorses’), read, preserved, awarded prizes and often critically acclaimed. Tumult and Tears will demonstrate how women’s war poetry, like that of their male counterparts, was largely based upon their day-to-day lives and contemporary beliefs.
Poems are placed within their wartime context. From war worker to parent; from serving daughter to grieving mother, sweetheart, wife; from writing whilst within earshot of the guns, whilst making the munitions of war, or whilst sitting in relative safety at home, these predominantly amateur, middle-class poets explore, with a few tantalising gaps, nearly every aspect of women’s wartime lives, from their newly public often uniformed roles to their sexuality.
About the Author
Viv has been interested in social history since primary school, when her teachers commented upon her “very many questions”.
Viv’s doctoral research on women’s poetry of the First World War uncovered a treasure trove of long-forgotten women’s poems. These widen our knowledge of women’s wartime lives, their concerns, and their contributions to the war effort and subsequent Victory.
Viv has taught women’s war poetry in both academic and non-academic settings and spoken widely at history conferences (both national and international). She gives talks to a variety of audiences ranging from First World War devotees of organisations such as the Western Front Association as well as to Rotarians, Women’s Institutes and U3A.
“I highly recommend this beautifully written book. It is informative, factual and a truly compelling read.” – Emma