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Scars Upon My Heart: Women's Poetry and Verse of the First World War

Catherine Reilly

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Prose: non-fiction, Literary studies: poetry & poets

A diverse and moving collection of women's poetry and verse of the First World War.

Your battle wounds are scars upon my heart' wrote Vera Brittain in a poem to her beloved brother, four days before he died in June 1918. The rediscovery of TESTAMENT OF YOUTH has reminded a new generation of the bitter sufferings of women as well as men in the terrible madness of the First World War. This, the first anthology of women war poets for over sixty years, will come as a surprise to many. It shows, for example, that women were writing protest poetry before Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and that the view of 'the women at home', ignorant and idealistic, was quite false.

Many of these poems come out of direct experiences of nursing the victims of trench warfare, or the pain of lovers, brothers, sons lost. Poets include: Nancy Cunard, Rose Macaulay, Charlotte Mew, Alice Meynell, Edith Nesbit, Edith Sitwell, Marie Stopes, Katharine Tynan. Here, as elsewhere, 'the poetry is in the pity' - a moving record of women's experience of war.

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Catherine Reilly

Catherine Reilly was born in Stretford and educated in Manchester, held an M.Litt. from Oxford University and was a specialist on the poetry of the two world wars. She died, aged 80, in September 2005.

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