I recently looked back over my ever-growing list of World War II-related writings and found I still hadn't added a bunch of authors—mostly memoirists or diarists of the period. So I am rectifying that oversight here.
IRIS CARPENTER and HILDE MARCHANT were both trailblazing journalists who covered some of the hottest hot spots of the war at a time when women journalists were usually restricted to quieter and safer journalistic pursuits, and wrote about their experiences in No Woman's World (1946) and Women and Children Last (1941), respectively. The former is one of the women noted in Nancy Caldwell Sorel's book The Women Who Wrote the War, which has been on "to read" list forever. Marchant seems to have become even more buried in the sands of time, but also sounds intriguing.
ZELMA KATIN and BARBARA NIXON, meanwhile, had experiences every bit as harrowing back on the home front, working as a conductress and a
warden, respectively, and their accounts in 'Clippie':
The Autobiography of a War Time Conductress (1944) and Raiders Overhead (1943) make for fascinating reading. RACHEL
KNAPPETT's experiences as a Land Girl—described in A Pullet on the Midden (1946)—were less gruesome but no doubt just
as strenuous. London
CONSTANCE TOMKINSON's wartime life may have been strenuous, too, but in a rather different way—she tells of her experiences as a dancer in wartime
in Les Girls (1956). And the first volume of RUBY THOMPSON's just-published Blitz diaries—World War II Blitz Diary (2013)—continues the story, begun in Ruby: An Ordinary Woman (1995), of an
unhappily-married woman whose diary was her outlet. It promises to offer a highly personal view
of domestic life during wartime. London
I also came across one additional author from World War I who seems like a fascinating figure. VIOLETTA THURSTAN served as a Red Cross nurse throughout the war, and earned quite an array of honors for bravery and devotion. Field Hospital and Flying Column (1915) was a journal of her service in
and late in life she published a memoir of the war, The Hounds of War Unleashed (1978). Russia
And, back to World War II, I recently remembered some humorous works written by poet VIRGINIA GRAHAM (whose lovely wartime poems were collected by Persephone in Consider the Years 1938-1946), which qualify her for my list. One of them, Here’s How (1951), was discussed by Simon at Stuck-in-a-Book back in 2011. And this led me to remember that Graham had a lifelong correspondence with actress and comedienne JOYCE GRENFELL, and I recalled that Grenfell also wrote memoirs of her experiences during the war, as well as other humorous works. So, appropriately enough, the two close friends are together in this update.
Finally, I’m adding two pairs of authors who caused me some confusion. One of the writers does have a WWII connection, but otherwise they don’t particularly fit any update theme. I’m just including them here because I’m ready to give up on the minor mysteries that still linger around them.
First, there is the combo of WWII memoirist HILARY WAYNE, who wrote of her experiences with her daughter in the ATS, and JOAN MARY WAYNE BROWN, best known for her girls’ books under the name Mary Gervaise, but also the author of adult novels and romances under the pseudonym (you guessed it) Hilary Wayne. At first, I assumed they must be the same person, but it seems that this can’t be. Jenny Hartley says in her Hearts Undefeated that the memoirist was 56 when she joined the ATS, so she can hardly be the much younger Brown. Oddly, the British Library suggests that memoirist
was also a pseudonym, of someone
called Flora Sturgeon, but I haven’t found any information under that name
either. In the end, the identical
pseudonyms appear to be just a coincidence, and both authors are added below. Wayne
Then there is the mystery of MARGARET DALE, a long-lost novelist who published three intriguing novels in the early 1930s. John Herrington, who successfully tracked down Mary Bell’s true identity, came up empty in his search for Dale, which must mean she is really and truly lost. My own skills at tracking are nothing compared to John's, but a while back, I briefly harboured the delusion that I had located her, when I researched MARGARET J[ESSY]. MILLER, a children’s author whose married name was Dale. But that would have been far too simple. Although the ages worked—Miller could certainly have been a precocious young novelist at 22, before turning to children’s fiction later on—unfortunately Miller only married and became Margaret Dale in 1938, three years after the last Margaret Dale novel appeared. Alas, tough is the row the researcher of obscure writers must hoe! But both writers sound interesting, and both are included below.
The full list of new authors if below, and all have already been added to the main list.