Tag Archives: WW1

Freda White

For a short time in the sixties and early seventies I had two great female friends. I was in my twenties, Frances Gordon in her fifties and Freda White in her late seventies. I had recently graduated from Glasgow University and was accumulating educational qualifications; Frances had a degree from the LSE gained in the 1930s and was a linchpin in the political and cultural life of Edinburgh; Freda was among the first graduates from Somerville College, Oxford, an author, journalist, campaigner and lecturer of international renown. Continue reading Freda White

No Petticoats Here

No Petticoats Here tells the stories of remarkable women who lived during the First World War, through song. As a folk singer, songwriter and some time teacher of history I take great interest in combining music with stories from the past. Frustrated at the relatively small amount of attention given to women’s stories during the centenary commemorations of the First World War, I decided to look closer at women’s achievements from this period.

My research took me from Flanders to the battlefields of the Somme, through the doors of many museums and research centres and brought me into contact with some incredible historians and authors as well as the relatives of some of these incredible women. Continue reading No Petticoats Here

Dr Elsie Inglis

“In Scotland they made her a Doctor, In Serbia we would have made her a Saint.” – Serbian saying.

Elsie Inglis was born in Naini Tal, India to Scottish parents. Her father was employed by the East India Company and the family returned to Edinburgh in 1878 when Elsie was 14. Elsie’s parents believed, unusual for this time, that both boys and girls should have equal access to education and were supportive of Elsie’s decision to study medicine. Women won the right to obtain medical degrees in 1876 and when the Edinburgh School of Medicine for Women was opened in 1886 Elsie decided to study there, graduating in 1892. Continue reading Dr Elsie Inglis

Mary Lindell Part 1

Born on 11th September 1895, Mary Ghita Lindell was on course to live an intriguing life. She was nearly 19 when the Great War broke out and her father said ‘The honour of Great Britain is saved. We are now at war with Germany. Mary you will have to go.’

So Mary Lindell, as expected, enlisted in the Red Cross’s Volunteer Aid Detachment. While with the VAD she had her first run in with hierarchy; this would lead to her being imprisoned for one night in a stable block, taking the form of two altercations with the same Matron. One day VAD Lindell had the unenviable task of  Continue reading Mary Lindell Part 1

Katherine Harley

Katherine Harley sits at the desk
Katherine Harley sits at the desk

Katherine Mary Harley nee French, sister of Sir John French, (leader of the British army at the outbreak of World War 1,) and Charlotte Despard, was born on May 3rd 1855, less than three months after the death of her father. Her childhood was blighted by her mother’s ill health and by the age of ten she was an orphan. Katherine was sent to boarding school and then travelled to India to stay with her sister Maggie. There she met and married George Ernest Harley, a soldier. A little over a year later still in India she gave birth to her first child Florence.[i]

Continue reading Katherine Harley

Charlotte Despard

Charlotte Despard was a woman of many passions, she fought for the vote, for Irish freedom, for peace & for animal welfare. She formed, or was part of, many political groups & movements paving the way for others committed to these freedoms.

Born in 1844 Charlotte’s upbringing wasn’t easy. Her father died when she was young and her mother was mentally ill and hospitalised. Charlotte was sent to London to live with relatives.

Continue reading Charlotte Despard