Wednesday, 10 August 2016

David Geoffrey Collins (1899 - 1918) - British poet, botanist, mathematician, peace lover

Stanley Kaye has just sent me details of another forgotten poet of the First World War.

David Collins was born in London on 9th August 1899.   His parents were Edwin Hyman Simeon Collins, an author and schoolmaster and his wife Ada Eleanor Collins, nee Stanford, a musician and music teacher.   David's siblings were Ivan J. (b. 1894), Edward Guthrie (b.1897), Josef S. (b. 1898), Herman L. (b. 1903), Dorothy R. (b. 1904), Robert B. (b. 1907) and Kathleen M. (b. 1908).  In 1901 the family lived in Ramsgate in Kent and in 1911 they lived in Middlewich in Cheshire.  At the time of David's death, they lived in Kew Gardens, Richmond, Surrey.

When war broke out, David initially joined the 1st London Regiment, enlisting in Kingston, Surrey.  He transferred to the 1st Battalion of the Grenadier Guards as a Guardsman and died of wounds sustained in France on 11th October 1918.  David Geoffrey Collins was buried in Delsaux Farm Cemetery, 62124 Beugny, Pas de Calais, France.

Sources:  Find my Past and Free BMD

If anyone has a photograph or any of Davis's poems please get in touch.  Many thanks to Stanley Kaye for finding another forgotten poet of The First World War.   I have added David's name to the list of Cemeteries where poets are buried.

Francis Kennard Bliss (1892 - 1916) - British poet, painter and musician

Francis Kennard Bliss was born in 1892 in Richmond, UK.   His parents were Francis Edward Bliss, a petroleum merchant from New York, USA and his wife Agnes K. Bliss, nee Davis from Rochester, Kent, UK.  Francis's siblings were Arthur (b. 1891) and James Howard (b. 1894).  The boys' mother, Agnes died in 1895 and the children were brought up by their father, from whom they inherited a love of the arts.  The family lived in Holland Park, London.

Educated at Bilton Grange Preparatory School and Rugby School, Francis won a Classics Scholarship and went on to study at King's College, Cambridge where he joined the debating group known as The Apostles.   He was a gifted clarinet player.

When war broke out, Francis initially joined the Artists' Rifles as a Private but was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery on 9th July 1915 and posted to the Western Front in November 1915.

At the time of his death on 28th September 1916, Francis was an Acting Forward Artillery Observation Officer.  He is commemorated on Thiepval Memorial.   His brother Arthur, who joined the Army and  also served on The Somme during WW1,  went on to become famous and was knighted as a composer, wrote a piece of music in memory of his brother Francis, dedicating it to all who were killed in the same battle.  "Morning Heroes A Symphony for my brother and comrades killed in the war" was written as a Symphony for Orator, Chorus and Orchestra in 1930.

Find my Past
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Tim Cross - "The Lost Voices of World War 1: An International Anthology of Writers, Poets and Playwrights", Bloomsbury Publishing Co. Ltd.,  London, 1989
S.E. Rosenbaum - "Aspects of Bloomsbury Studies in Modern English Literacy and Intellectual History", Macmillan Press Ltd., Basingstoke, 1998
W.C. Lubenow - "The Cambridge Apostles 1820 - 1914 Liberalism, Imagination and Friendship", Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998

 My thanks to Michael Copp who has written some fantastic books about First World War poets. Michael advised me to have a look at Tim Cross's anthology.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Walter Scott Stuart Lyon (1886 – 1915) - Poet

Walter was born on 1st October 1886, one of five sons born to Walter Fitzgerald K. Lyon and his wife Isabella R. Lyon, nee Haddeth.   The family lived at Tantallon Lodge, North Berwick.

After attending Haileybury School in Great Amwell, Ware, Hertfordshire, Walter obtained his BA in Classics from Oxford and went to Edinburgh University where he studied law from 1909 till 1912.  He had joined the cadet corps in 1902 while at Oxford and became a Lieutenant in February 1913.   By 1914, Walter was a Staff Captain and he joined the 9th Royal Scots Regiment of the Lothic Brigade.  He was posted to France in 1915 and was killed on 8th May 1915 at Ypres.  He was 28 years old and was, according to Alastair Shepherd, the first Scottish Advocate to be killed during the First World War.   
Walter is commemorated as “One of the War Poets” on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, on Panel 11.

Walter’s WW1 poetry collection “Easter at Ypres, 1915, and other poems” was published by Maclehose, Glasgow in 1916.

Two of Walter's brothers were killed in WW1 and another died while at school.

With thanks to Yvon Davis for spotting Alastair Shepherd’s research in “The Scotsman” into Scottish Advocates of the First World War

Sources: Page 206 of Catherine W. Reilly “English Poets of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978), Find my Past, Free BMD, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and Stephen Glenn's website

Sunday, 24 July 2016

A Poet wounded on 24th July 1916 - Brian Brooke (1889 - 1916) - Scottish

Henry Brian Brooke was born on 9th December 1889 at Lickleyhead Castle, Aberdeenshire, the third son of Captain Sir Harry Vesey Brooke and his wife Patricia, nee Moir-Byers.   Brian’s siblings were James Anson Otho Brooke (1889 - 1914), Constance Geraldine Brooke (1889 - 1973) Patrick Harry Brooke (1895 - 1917) and Rupert Brooke who was born and died in 1896.  As a child, Brian liked to draw and write poetry.  He attended Clifton College and then went to Gordon's College in Aberdeen to prepare for life as a colonial civil servant.  According to M.P. Willcocks who wrote the introduction to Brian's poetry collection, he had red hair and grew to a height of 6 foot 3 inches.

Brian’s eyesight was poor so instead of joining the Army or Navy like his brothers, he went to British East Africa, where he was a big game hunter and cattle farmer who befriended the local Masai tribe and became their blood brother.   He wrote poetry using the pen-name “Korengo”, which means “the big man” in Masai.  He was wounded in Jubaland, Somalia while serving with the East African Transport Corps losing two fingers, and returned to Britain for treatment.

When his brother James was killed in Belgium on 29th October 1914 (he was posthumously awarded the V.C.), Brian joined the 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders.   He was sent to the Western Front.  During the Battle of the Somme at Mametz Wood on 1st July 1916 Brian was wounded three times, first in the leg, then in the arm and finally in the neck but he continued to lead his men until he could go no further. 

Brian was sent home to Britain after initial treatment at the Base Hospital and was transferred to the Empire in London where he died of his wounds on 24th July 1916.  Brian is buried in Aberdeen Springbank Cemetery.  Brian’s brother Patrick was in the Royal Navy, serving on HMS “Courageous” and died of Typhoid Fever on 24th May 1917.

Brian Brooke’s collection of WW1 and other “Poems” was published by John Lane, The Bodley Head, London in 1917.

Brian Brooke is one of the forgotten poets of WW1 featured in the Exhibition of Somme Poets at The Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE.
The Museum is open Tuesdays - Fridays from 11 am - 2 pm but you can phone if you are planning a visit to ensure there will be some to meet you and show you round.07903 337995.

The Wilfred Owen Story,
34, Argyle Street,
Birkenhead, Wirral,
CH41 6AE.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Emile Cammaerts (1878 - 1953) - Belgian Poet

Belgian poet, writer and playwright. Emile Cammaerts was born in Brussels on 16th March 1878.  In 1908 he settled in England.

During the First World War, Cammaerts wrote the poems that gained him the greatest audience "Belgian Poems" Published in 1915, 'New Belgian Poems', published in 1917 and 'Messines and other Poems", published in 1918.

Cammaerts also wrote "Through the Iron Bars," which was published in 1917 and was an account of the sufferings of Belgium during the First World War.  In addition, he wrote the preface to the poetry anthology edited by R.M. Ingersley (Russell Markand) under the title "The Glory of Belgium: A Tribute and a Chronicle", published in 1915 by Erskine Macdonald and sold in aid of the Belgian Repatriation Fund.

Emile Cammaerts married Tita Brand, a daughter of the opera singer Madame Marie Brema. Tita Brand-Cammaerts became well known during the World War for reciting her husband's patriotic poems. Cammaerts' poem "Apr├Ęs Anvers" ("After Antwerp"), which was first published in "The Observer" and written in French, was translated into English by his wife.  With music composed by Sir Edward Elgar, re-titled "Carillon" and first performed in public on 7th December 1914 at a concert by the London Symphony Orchestra , the work was one of the greatest successes of the First World War. Cammaerts is one of British author Michael Morpurgo's Grandfathers.

Cammaerts became Professor of Belgian Studies at London University in 1933.  He died in Radlett, Hertfordshire on 2nd November 1953.

Cammaert's WW1 poems, written in French were translated by his wife, Tita Branc-Cammaerts, and under the title "Belgian Poems", were published in London by John Lane, The Bodley Head in 1915. The poems can be read free on-line via Archive here

 Photograph of Cammaerts in the National Portrait Gallery by Lafayette in 1928.

A link to an interesting article written by Michael Morpurgo (author of the book "War Horse") about his Grandfather, Belgian poet Emile Cammaerts –


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

Monday, 18 July 2016

Richard le Gallienne: Liverpool’s Wild Poet - an exhibition at Liverpool Central Library 5th August - 31st October 2016

Richard le Gallienne:  Liverpool’s Wild(e) Poet - An exhibition - will be held at the Hornby Library, Liverpool Central Library, William Brown Street, LIVERPOOL, L3 8E, UK

From 5th August – 31st October 2016
The Liverpool Central Library commemorates the 150th anniversary of the birth in Liverpool of Richard Le Gallienne (1866–1947)—poet, critic, and novelist—with an exhibition in its Hornby Library. On display are over 50 rare or unique items, many highlighting his lifelong connections to Oscar Wilde (1854–1900). Original photographs, drawings, manuscripts, unpublished letters, Victorian periodicals, and first editions tell the story of Le Gallienne’s successful literary career, which took him from Liverpool to London, the US, and France. Drawn from public and private collections and local institutions (including family papers in the Liverpool Record Office of Liverpool Central Library), these materials show his importance to the Aesthetic and Decadent movements, his involvement with the Yellow Book, his intimate ties to late-Victorian feminists known as “New Women,” and his links to artists such as Max Beerbohm and Walter Sickert.

Most of all, this exhibition illuminates the role that Oscar Wilde played as his idol, mentor, and friend—a relationship that began when 17-year-old Dick Gallienne, clerk in a Liverpool office, heard Wilde lecture in 1883 at the Claughton Music Hall in Birkenhead. Inspired by Wilde’s personal style and ideas about art, he renamed himself “Richard Le Gallienne,” wore long hair and artistic clothes, and dedicated himself to becoming an equally flamboyant figure and unconventional writer, devoted to Beauty in all its forms.

Programming in conjunction with the exhibition:

“Late-Victorian Literary Liverpool: A Symposium”

Saturday, 29 October 2016

The Liverpool Central Library will bring together scholars and collectors from the UK and the US for a one-day symposium about Liverpool as a literary and cultural center at the end of the 19th century. This event is free and open to the public.

Information about library hours and facilities: