Tuesday, 19 July 2016

WW1 Poets included in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, UK

Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London

I noticed while researching Herbert Read that he is among the First World War poets listed in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. 

Since I began producing exhibition panels for a series of WW1 commemorative exhibitions that began in November 2012, I have prepared exhibition panels for some of the following poets and hope eventually to include them all – even though many of them are, thankfully, not ‘forgotten’…

Richard Aldington

Lawrence Binyon

Edmund Blunden

Rupert Brooke

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

Robert Graves

Julian Grenfell

Ivor Gurney

David Jones

Robert Nichols

Wilfred Owen

Herbert Read

Isaac Rosenberg

Siegfried Sassoon

Charles Hamilton Sorley

Edward Thomas

The plaque commemorative the above poets was dedicated on 11th November 1985 and bears the famous quote from Wilfred Owen: “My subject is war….”

But I wonder why no women poets were included?   I supposed the old chestnut is because ‘they didn’t fight’ so were therefore not qualified to write about the first truly global conflict that rocked the planet and involved pretty well every man, woman and child who in Britain all 'did their bit'.

However, contrary to popular belief, women did go to the war zones and many of them died or were killed serving the cause.  I think it is high time we had a women’s WW1 poetry section at Poets’ Corner.    Who would you suggest?  This is my list:


Rosaleen Graves – British - trained as a nurse during WW1, nursed in Britain and France, studied to become a doctor

Mary Borden – American poet and nurse

Elizaveta Polonskaya – Russian poet and doctor

May Sinclair – accompanied Dr Hector Munro’s Flying Ambulance Unit in 1914

Cicely Hamilton – British actress, writer and poet - Scottish Women’s Hospital administrator Royaumont Abbey

Vera Brittain – British poet/ writer – VAD England, France, Malta

Winifred Holtby – British poet/writer – VAD and ambulance driver France

May Wedderburn Cannan – Coffee Shop Rouen

Edith Bagnold – British poet. Nurse then driver in France

Agatha Christie – British poet and writer. VAD

Millicent Sutherland – British poet - funded hospital in France

Edith Wharton – American poet – nursed in Paris

Ella Wheeler Wilcox – American poet who travelled the Atlantic to entertain the American troops on the Western Front

Henriette Hardenberg – German poet and nurse

Emine Semiye Onasy – Turkish writer and nurse

Alberta Vickridge – British poet – VAD

Joan Thompson – travelled to France with the Red Cross