Sunday, 6 August 2017

Florence Ripley Mastin (1886 – 1968) – American poet, writer and teacher

Many thanks to Janet who contacted me recently with regard to women poets of the First World War.  Janet’s e-mail reminded me that I have not posted much recently about the poets on my list, so I decided to research one that Janet mentioned.

Florence Ripley Mastin was born in Wayne, Pennsylvania, USA on 18th March 1886.  She was educated at Tappen Zee College before going on to study at Barnard College, Columbia University.  Florence had one of her poems published when she was fourteen years old.

After graduation, Florence taught English and creative poetry at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York.   She had her work published in many publications such as the New York Times, the Saturday Review, Poetry and the New York Herald-Tribune.

A collection of Florence’s poems entitled “Green Leaves” was published in 1918 by J.T. White.  Florence died in Rockland County in 1968.


Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Beatrice M. Barry - ?

Matt Jacobsen of the wonderful website  has been in touch with me again, to give me the name of another Female Poet of the First World War.  is where I found a great deal of very interesting information when I first began researching – beginning with Mildred Aldridge.  Thank you Matt.

Matt sent me:
“… a poem by a lass named Beatrice Barry - I know zip about here, beyond the fact that she appeared often in the New York Times weekend magazine, "Current History". I hope you find it useful.”

I certainly have Matt – thank you for sending me on another amazing journey researching the women poets of WW1.  I haven't yet been able to find out anything about Beatrice M. Barry either, other than the fact that she had poems published in the "New York Times" - if anyone can help please get in touch.

“ANSWERING THE ‘HASSGESANG’ “ By Beatrice M. Barry – was one of the poems written in response to the poem written by German poet Ernst Lissauer (1882 – 1937) -  “Hassgesong gegen England” (A Hymn of Hate against England) which was published in a pamphlet in August 1914 “Worte in die Zeit – Flugblatter 1914 von Ernst Lissauer”.  You will find the text of the original German of Ernst Lissauer’s poem, together with a translation by Barbara Henderson by following this link:

French and Russian, they matter not,

For England only your wrath is hot;  

But little Belgium is so small

You never mentioned her at all —

Or did her graveyards, yawning deep,

Whisper that silence was discreet?

For Belgium is waste! Ay, Belgium is waste!

She welters in the blood of her sons,

And the ruins that fill the little place

Speak of the vengeance of the Huns.

"Come, let us stand at the Judgment place,"

German and Belgian, face to face.

What can you say? What can you do?

What will history say of you?

For even the Hun can only say

That little Belgium lay in his way.

Is there no reckoning you must pay?

What of the Justice of that "Day"?

Belgium one voices — Belgium one cry

Shrieking her wrongs, inflicted by



In her ruined homesteads, her trampled fields,

You have taken your toll, you have set your seal;

Her women are homeless, her men are dead,

Her children pitifully cry for bread;

Perchance they will drink with you — "To the Day!"

Let each man construe it as he may.

What shall it be?

They, too, have but one enemy;

Whose work is this?

Belgium has but one word to hiss —



Take you the pick of your fighting men

Trained in all warlike arts, and then

Make of them all a human wedge

To break and shatter your sacred pledge;

You may fling your treaty lightly by,

But that "scrap of paper" will never die!

It will go down to posterity,

It will survive in eternity.

Truly you hate with a lasting hate;

Think you you will escape that hate?

"Hate by water and hate by land;

Hate of the head and hate of the hand."

Black and bitter and bad as sin,

Take you care lest it hem you in,

Lest the hate you boast of be yours alone,

And curses, like chickens, find roost at home


First published in “The New York Times” on 16th October 1914.

From “Contemporary War Poems” (New York American Association for International Coalition)

Monday, 12 June 2017

Catherine Wells (1872 - 1927) - British

If you follow my weblogs you will know that I quite often receive information from people regarding new poets, etc. to research.  I am very grateful for such help with this project.  Today I had an e-mail from Henry Gott of Blackwells Rare Books in Oxford.

Henry said: “have just been cataloguing 'The Book of Catherine Wells', a collection of stories and poems by the wife of H.G. Wells; it includes a trio of war poems - 'Spring 1915', 'June 1916', and 'Red Cross Workroom; 1917'. These were new to me - it doesn't mention where they were first published, if indeed they were published prior to this volume.”

Catherine Wells (1872 – 1927) was the second wife of the writer Herbert George (H.G.) Wells (1866 – 1946).

Catherine was born Amy Catherine Robbins in Islington on 8th July 1872.   Her parents were Frederick and Maria Catherine Robbins.   Catherine, who was known as Jane, was a student of H.G. Wells.  They were married in St. Pancras, London in 1895.
After Catherine’s death in 1927, Wells had her poetry and short story collection published under the title “The Book of Catherine Wells” published by Chatto & Windus in 1928.

Catherine's poem "Red Cross Workroom; 1917" tells us about her contribution to the war effort:

Daily here my body sits, My fingers tearing bandage strips,
My drilled eyes watch the pattern fits,
My agile scissor cuts and snips,
But truant Brain leaps out at play
And flies to some pellucid day
And suddenly I seem to hear
A sea maid singing at my ear
And straight am with her on a strand
Of cockle shells and pearly sand.
Where rainbows crown the leaping surf
And green weed wraps the rocks with turf.
We wreathe her yellow hair with weed
And play with coriander seed
And coral beads and horns of pearl -
The while that here my body sits,
My fingers tearing bandage strips.

(From "The Book of Catherine Wells" - short stories and poems - published in 1928 after Catherine's death by Chatto and Windus, London, 1928, page 201).

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Ianthe Bridgman JERROLD (1898 - 1977) - British

Ianthe was born in Kensington, London, UK in 1898.  Her parents were Walter Copeland Jarrold, a journalist and author, and his wife Clara Armstrong Jarrold, nee Bridgman, who was also a journalist and author.  Ianthe was one of six daughters – Daphne, b. 1899, Phyllis, b. 1899, Hebe, b. 1901, Althea, b/ 1902 and Florence, b. 1913.   Walter’s brother Cyril was a teacher of blind people.

In 1901, the family are listed as living in Kingston in Surrey.
Ianthe married George J. Menges in Paddington in 1927.   She was a very successful writer and travelled to America several times between 1947 and 1958.   She died in Kensington in 1977.

Ianthe had her first volume of poetry published when she was a schoolgirl during the First World War, under the title "The Road of Life and Other Poems" (Erskine Macdonald, London 1915) in the series Little Books of Georgian Verse.

Sources: Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) Find my Past, Free BMD and

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Nora C. Hotblack (1866 - 1949) - British

I was looking through Reilly's Bibliography of First World War English poetry when I noticed an entry HOTBLACK N. and had to find out more.
Nora Constance Hotblack was born Nora Constance Candler in Lee, Kent, UK in 1866.  She married Herbert Arthur Hotblack (1858 - 1899) in Lewisham, Kent in June 1885.
On the 1901 Census, Nora is listed as a Widow and Owner of a Brewery - Kidd and Hotblack in Brighton. Also listed are Norah N. Hotblack, b. 1890 and Frank A. Hotblack, b. 1896. A cousin of Nora - Mary E. Candler - was also living in the house in Cuckfield, Sussex. 
Nora wrote a volume of poems entitled "Stray thoughts", which was originally called "A few poems" and published by Stockwell in 1924.   Frank A. Hotblack, who served in the British Army during WW1, edited his mother's volume of poems.  Reilly mentioned that no copies of the first and second editions of the collection were traced.
If anyone has any further information please get in touch as I should like to add Nora to my List of Female Poets of the First World War. 
Sources: Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 174.  Find my Past and Free BMD.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Eleanor Alexander (1857 - 1939) - Poet

Eleanor Jane Alexander was born in 1857 in County Tyrone, Ireland.  Her father was the Rev. William Alexander, an Anglican priest, who became Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and her mother was the poet and hymn writer Cecil Frances Alexander, nee Humphreys.  Eleanor’s father also wrote and published poetry.  Eleanor had two siblings – Cecil J.F., born in 1859, and Dorothea A., born in 1861.  Their mother died in 1895.

Eleanor never married and lived with her father in Devon when he retired. After the death of her father in 1924, the King granted Eleanor permission to live in rooms in Hampton Court Palace in honour of her father’s lifetime of service.  She died there on 3rd June 1939.  Eleanor’s body was returned to Londonderry for burial.  She had lived there for much of her life and her family were buried there.

Eleanor’s poems were included in seven WW1 poetry anthologies and were also published in “The Times”, “The Spectator” and the “Belfast Telegraph”.
The following lines, taken from Eleanor’s “Commemorative Ode”, were written by Eleanor in late June 1917 to mark the first anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.  She dedicated the poem to the memory of the 36th (Ulster) Division.  The poem was published in “The Belfast Telegraph”:

‘Heaven for a moment; heaven, then hell,

Into the sunshine yellow on the grass

With brows uplifted, stern-lipped, glad they pass

To shot and splitting shell.

Now in the open, now at last

For love of liberty in England’s name,

To prove the soul of Derry’s ancient fame,

The mettle of Belfast

Not tear-dimmed, downcast, follow higher

Proud eyes, the well-beloved that toil and strain

In battle-storm and death and bitter pain

Through enfilading fire.

On to the trenches burrowed deep –

What of the brave, the brave who fight and fall

On to that last line in the smoke’s grey pall,

To have, to hold, to keep.’

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

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Update re Joyce Amphlett

Researcher/historian Phil Dawes found out more about Joyce Amphlett:
"As you know, Marian Joyce was the daughter of a wealthy farmer. She was educated at home in 1901 and 1911. The house in which the family lived in 1911 had 4 servants and 16 rooms.

Joyce married Harold Mence Gardner at Upton (Malvern) in 1920. Her sister married in 1921.

She became elusive after that. As her husband was a forestry student ( he too was the son of a wealthy local farmer) I thought they might have gone abroad and they did: to Kenya. Harold worked his way up the Colonial Civil Service ladder to become Conservator of Forests, Kenya by 1938.  He was also appointed to the legislative council in 1933.

Harold was already in Kenya as a young forestry officer when WWI broke out. He fought in the East Africa campaign but became ill from malaria and returned to forestry.

After the war he must have returned home often enough to meet up with local girl Joyce.

They were on holiday in the UK in 1939 at census time. Harold was staying with her parents - several servants were listed. Joyce was almost certainly there too but her record is 'officially closed' for some reason.

They were good Christians and helped to found and build St. Francis Church in Nairobi. This is explained on their remembrance plaque in that church.

When Harold died in 1979 the “Nairobi Standard” newspaper published a fairly lengthy biography. It mentions Joyce and their five surviving children and fifteen grandchildren.

Joyce died in 1985."

And Steve Millward has found a reference to one of their children - Charles Amphlett Gardner - being made a District Officer in Fort Hall, Kenya on 14th July 1959.