Category Archives: World War I

(SPOILER ALERT) Antiquarian Nursing Material Isn’t Just for Nurses

We recently wrote a short and sweet blog post on “Why You Should Be Collecting Antiquarian Cookery.” Now, we do enjoy getting Cookery items in and we do have quite a bit of knowledge around them, but technically speaking, cookery is not one of our ‘specialties’. However… Nursing is. We often have customers exclaim surprise at our little-known specialty, followed by a slightly confused look as to why we might carry such things. You yourself might be wondering how many nurses are also antiquarian book collectors. We must confess that we do not know those numbers. (However, if you know those numbers, please feel free to share.) So for this week’s blog post we thought we would share why you don’t have to be a nurse to collect antiquarian nursing material!

Before you remind us, yes, Vic began collecting nursing material because his wife, Ellen, was a head nurse! So yes, occasionally there are nurses involved. Just thought we would get that over with before we get any “Wait up, we know that Ellen was involved in that field…” emails. However, Vic knowingly went into the field, as he realized that there weren’t many out there specializing particularly in nursing material over a more generalized medical genre.

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Although the U.S. Army Medical Department was one of the slowest to integrate women, when over 5,000 of its combat-ready men — including many trained technicians and orderlies — were forced to transfer to the Infantry in early 1944, the department began a major push to recruit women to fill the positions. The Female Medical Technician campaign, as pictured here, was hugely successful. See this Fine condition WWII poster here.

Nursing material tells us about just as much of history as other items in the medical field. Nurses were often called upon to step in and help in times of war and devastation, and, in some instances, were in even higher demand than doctors. Antiquarian nursing material often teaches the reader (albeit briefly) the best ways to care for wounds, different illness, and even mental “defects”. They are particularly interesting as, despite what western medicine looks like today, many antiquarian nursing items were published before the heavy use of medication. Nursing materials can teach how to care to the sick without Advil – which many would argue is more important than knowing how to hand over a pill!

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Check out this 1804 1st US edition of FRIENDLY CAUTIONS To The HEADS Of FAMILIES And OTHERS, Very Necessary to be Observed in Order to PERSERVE HEALTH And LONG LIFE: with Ample Directions to NURSES WHO ATTEND The SICK” – a manual for nurses from over two centuries ago! See it here.

Antiquarian nursing items are therefore of interest to any of those looking to see cultural and scientific differences in levels and quality of medical care over the past two hundred years. It is also interesting to use the materials to see how nurses were trained, what they were trained in, and what they were called on to do. Now if you don’t find that interesting, then we don’t know what else to tell you!

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Check out this 1868 1st edition of “On Nurses and Nursing by Dr. Horatio Storer – a leading physician in the 19th century who, in 1857, started the “physicians’ crusade against abortion” both in Massachusetts and nationally, and persuaded the American Medical Association to form a Committee on Criminal Abortion. The Committee Report was presented at the AMA meeting in Louisville, Kentucky in 1859 and accepted by the Association. Woah! Check it out here.

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“It is better to learn wisdom late, than to never learn it at all” The Life of the Great Creator of Sherlock Holmes

By Margueritte Peterson

On the 7th of July, 1930, Arthur Conan Doyle died at age 71 from a heart attack. On this the 86th anniversary of his death, we’d like to look at this famous author, spiritualist & physician and his lifetime contribution to so many different fields!

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.49.00 PMConan Doyle (as he is often called, though Conan Doyle is a combination of his middle and last names, as Conan is not a surname, as people often think!) was not born under auspicious circumstances. His father, Charles Altamont Doyle, was an alcoholic and when Arthur was only 5 years old he and his siblings were dispersed to live with family and friends across Edinburgh. A few years later the family moved back together and for numerous years lived in near-poverty. Luckily, Doyle had wealthy family to support him and to send him to Jesuit boarding school in England for seven years beginning when he was nine years old. Despite a difficult home life and upbringing, Doyle apparently struggled leaving home for school – as he was incredibly close with his mother (and would remain so throughout his life) and cherished the stories she would tell him during his childhood. It is even said that his favorite part of school was writing letters home to his mother, and telling stories to his schoolmates that she had once told him!

After leaving school as a young man, Doyle’s first act as an adult was to co-sign the committal papers for his father, who by that time was a long-sufferer of mental illness related to his drinking problem. After such, Doyle devoted his further studies, surprisingly, to a medical career (I say surprisingly as his family was one of artists) after being influenced by a boarder his mother took in for some extra cash. While at medical school, Doyle met two fellow students who would prove to become life-long friends, as well as literary stars – James Barrie (author of Peter Pan) and Robert Louis Stevenson. Another influential persona on the young Doyle was one of his Professors – a Dr. Joseph Bell. Dr. Bell, with his particular observations, attention and significant powers of logic and deduction would end up being Doyle’s inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes!

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.35.00 PMIt was during his medical studies that Doyle first began to write short stories – the first few of which were published in both a smaller journal in Edinburgh and the London Society. It is said that with his publication in the larger UK magazine Doyle first realized that he could, possibly, make a living with his pen. He took off of his studies during his third year of medical school to act as a doctor on board an Arctic whaling boat – an experience that he loved (and kept detailed journals of) and sparked his wish for adventure. After returning to his studies and graduating, Doyle’s first job was to take another surgeon position on board a ship bound for Africa. He was less impressed by this position, however, and upon returning to England eventually opened up his own small practice in Portsmouth. During his time practicing, Doyle wrote short stories on the side and married a sister of one of his patients. He lived a relatively calm and normal life until March of 1886 when he began working on the novel that would propel him into fame and success as an author.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.34.14 PMA Study in Scarlet was published in 1888 and immediately became a great success (though, surprisingly, Doyle was received more widely in America at first, than in the UK). Though this first work is well-remembered (as it introduced the world to the immortal characters of Dr. Watson & Sherlock Holmes), and Doyle continued writing other stories and novels. Sherlock became a household name and his stories began to be published in The Strand Magazine on a regular basis. In fact, after only five years of Sherlock titles, Doyle planned the death of this fictional hero and after The Final Problem was published in 1893 (where Sherlock and Moriarty plunged to their deaths at The Reichenbach Falls), over twenty thousand readers cancelled their subscriptions to the magazine!

Doyle’s next few years were troubled times for the author, as he struggled to maintain a readership with other stories and characters, took care of his wife recently diagnosed with tuberculosis, and dealt with the death of his (at this point) severely demented father. In the early 1900s, Doyle decided (more for the happiness of his bank account than his own literary merits) to bring back the character of Sherlock – first in The Hound of the Baskervilles (written as just a previously untold adventure of the famous Detective), and then with The Return of Sherlock Holmes in 1903 – once again serialized in The Strand Magazine. Sherlock Holmes was back, and as popular as ever.

Sherlock Holmes was kept alive despite many obstacles in Doyle’s life. He took care of his wife throughout her illness, raised their two children, wrote, tried (twice, in fact) to throw himself into politics, and began seeing a young woman he felt a deep connection with on the side (though it is thought he remained true to Louisa until her death in 1906). Doyle was also a very active person, participating in many sports and body building throughout his life. Doyle did not only write Sherlock Holmes periodicals, but also in this time wrote several plays and novels – though some popular (some not quite so popular) in contemporary circles are not what he is well-remembered for today.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.49.23 PMEver an active participant in politics and wartime (he served as a surgeon in the Boer War some years earlier), Conan Doyle never ceased to look for ways to be of service to his country and his people. Fun Fact: After an attack on the British Navy at the outbreak of WWI where the military lost over a thousand lives in one day, Doyle wrote to the war office and recommended that they invent inflatable belts and inflatable “life boats” in order to save more lives of those at sea. Though many in the offices thought Doyle a nuisance (always interfering), at one point Winston Churchill himself wrote him to thank him for his ideas! As far as I’m concerned, being the one to come up with the idea for inflatable life jackets and life rafts absolutely earns you respect.

One part of Doyle’s history that many like to focus on is his interest in the paranormal and the occult sciences. Having always been interested in certain types of phenomena (even his second published work was a strange occult work of fiction about the afterlife of three Buddhist monks), he became even more so after witnessing the death of his son in the war. His interest in spiritualism (which his wife eventually also shared), led him to believe in anything paranormal – such as the Cottingley fairies (the two girls who posed with fairy cutouts and accidentally started a nationwide interest in the belief of fairies). Though when the need for money rose once again Doyle was able to pen out more Sherlock Holmes tales, most of his writing in his later life focused on spiritualism and psychic pursuits.

Our first appearance of this classic science fiction novel by Doyle "The First Men in the Moon" illustrated by Claude Shepperson, many plates of which are only available in this periodical issue. See more here>

A Collection of Strand Magazine from 1900 to 1901 with Arhur Conan Doyle articles “A Glimpse of the Army” and “Strange Studies from Life” as well as an interview with Doyle – “A British Commando.” See more here>

Doyle passed away from angina and heart-related difficulties in July of 1930. His last words were whispered to his second wife, “You are wonderful.” This great man created one of the most well-known literary characters to this day and lived a full-life, constantly chasing his passions, whether they be literary, political, or spiritual.

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Look no further… than the Latest Items at Tavistock Books!

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Does the name Victoria Lucas ring a bell to you? She’s a super famous poet! We recently wrote a blog about her, even. Not ringing with understanding yet? Hmm… she also struggled with depression her whole life and wrote some of her most famous poems at the peaks of her despair. Here’s a hint if you’re STILL confused… Victoria Lucas is her pseudonym. That’s right, ladies and gents – it’s Mrs. Sylvia Plath. And here we offer a 1st edition of her novel “The Bell Jar”! See more here>

 

 

 

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We can’t get enough of Plath around here… have you ever read her Journals? Get on that as soon as possible! But first, perhaps you’d like to spend some time with a 1st edition of her, arguably, most famous book of poetry – published, unfortunately, in 1965, two years after her death. Interested? See it here>

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 8.16.35 AMFun fact about poet Wallace Stevens – winner of the Pulitzer Prize for one of his books of poetry! He loved to visit Key West (which is evident in much of his poetry) and while there, he encountered writers and poets Robert Frost and Ernest Hemingway… both of which he argued with each time! Did I say argued? Ernest Hemingway beat him to the curb outside, is what I meant. Nevertheless, Wallace was an important figure on the poetry scene, even if only for a while! His poem “The Man with the Blue Guitar” we offer here>

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A collector of cookery items and menus knows that it is difficult enough to find a menu in good shape from the beginning of the 20th century. How about a menu in VG condition… from the trenches of WWI? We wouldn’t lie to you! This menu even has a graphic illustration of soldiers confronting each other in the war. Check it out here>

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“We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher” is one of the best books depicting cowboy life that we have in our inventory today! Though born in England, “Teddy Blue” Abbott was a cowboy from a young age – once his parents moved him to Lincoln, Nebraska and his father let him try his hand a herding cattle! But oh, we shouldn’t tell you the entire story, should we? Read his memoirs here>

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We love our cookbooks here at Tavistock Books… Ever wish you could make Pea Fritters or Rice Coquettes? This book is the cookbook for you! Our “Cookery in the Golden State” is a 1st edition published in Sacramento in 1890… by our good old Unitarian Ladies! Somewhat scarce in the trade, this book will meet all your cookery collection needs! Try the recipes here>

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It is always a wonderful thing when you meet someone who truly and desperately loves where they are and what they are doing. Too often we are too apt to complain about where we’ve decided to settle! Not for Mabel Dodge Luhan and her beloved Taos, New Mexico. Her “Winter in Taos” describes her simple life from season to season, in an almost stream-of-conciousness style. She connects with the earth and finds great “pleasure in being very still and sensing things”. Find out about Luhan’s deep connection with the “deep living earth” here>

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This is not your average manuscript book… this is a book of a pharmacy’s ledger of prescriptions… from 1874! Essentially an apothecary recipe book containing innumerable medicinal formulas with ingredients and dosage instructions from an unnamed apothecary in the Boston Area at the end of the 19th century. Truthfully, we would note this as an invaluable primary source for medicinal recipes used by the US medical community in the 1870s. Forget WebMD… check it out here>

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Who cares that Gold was found near Sacramento? Check out these Gems we Mined at the Sacramento Antiquarian Book Fair…

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Circa 1869, this pamphlet titled “God is Love. A Sermon” was authored by George Storrs – one of the leaders of the Second Advent movement, affiliated with William Miller and Joshua V. Himes. After a fair amount of study, Storrs preached to some Adventists on the condition and prospects… for the dead. OCLC records no copies of this pamphlet, nor is it found in the NUC! See more on it here>

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 6.38.53 PMThis set of 5 Nursing Student journals were written between 1923 and 1926 by one Mildred Godwin, a class of ’26 nursing student at Crozer Hospital, Chester, Pennsylvania. Within these journals the young lady records diverse class notes beginning in September of 1923 from lectures by her professors – Dr. Crowther, Miss Burkhard, Dr. Gray, etc. The subject of her entries range widely across the medical spectrum, from items such as Social Service to “Why Cases are Referred.” A very interesting archive of post WWI nursing education! Check it out here>

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.05.56 AMThis is no ordinary promotional photograph album or scrapbook… at least, not in terms of subject! The Alaska Blue Fox Company seem to have produced this interesting documentary album, providing an invaluable historical look at a very successful fox farming venture (yes, you read that correctly. No, there’s nothing I can do about it) on Bushy Island, in the Southeast Alaska Islands. After WWI there was a rise in fur prices, giving some eccentric entrepreneurs an opportunity to lease the island in the Tongass National Forest off the coast of Alaska and stock it with some 20 breeding pairs of foxes – all for your wearing pleasure. Be unnerved here>

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.06.36 AMThis 1929 Promotional Project Photograph Album details the Western Maryland Railway – a (primarily) coal & freight hauling operation – with images of the diverse aspects & views of the port facilities & docks, of the ‘up-to-date’ buildings & even some freight moving mechanisms (spiral chutes & cranes, etc). An outstanding, possibly unique album documenting local pre-depression Baltimore history, as well as the capital improvement efforts of one of Maryland’s major transportation firms! Love automotive and locomotive history? This is the album for you…

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A Brief History of Propaganda

The term “propaganda” has come to have a negative connotation in much of the English-speaking world. But in some places, the word is neutral or even positive. Why this difference? The reasons can be traced through the word’s etymology and the way that this strategy of communication has evolved over the centuries.

Roots in the Catholic Church

The use of propaganda began much earlier than most people would imagine. The Behistun Inscription, from around 515 BCE, details Darius I’s ascent to the Persian throne and is considered an early example of propaganda. And ancient Greek commander Themistocles used propaganda to delay the action of–and defeat–his enemy, Xerxes, in 480 BCE. Meanwhile, Alexander put his image on coins, monuments, and statues as a form of propaganda. Roman emperor Julius Caesar was considered quite adept at propaganda, as were many prominent Roman writers like Livy.

But it was the Catholic Church that both formalized the use of propaganda and gave us the word itself. Pope Urban II used propaganda to generate support for the Crusades. Later, propaganda would become a powerful tool for both Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation. Thanks to the printing press, propaganda could be disseminated to a much wider audience.

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The 300th anniversary of the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide was commemorated on Italian currency.

In 1622, Pope Gregory XV established the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for Propagating the Faith) for the purpose of promoting the faith in non-Catholic countries. The group’s name was often informally shortened to “propaganda,” and the name stuck. As literacy rates grew in subsequent centuries, propaganda became a more and more useful tool around the world. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were both considered adept propagandists during the American Revolution.

Literacy Propagates…Propaganda

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“All About California” is a propaganda piece designed to encourage settlement in the state.

By the nineteenth century, propaganda had finally emerged in the form we think of it today. Because most people were literate and had more than passing interest in government affairs, politicians found it necessary to sway public opinion. They turned to (sometimes unscrupulous) propaganda to get the job done.

A notorious propaganda campaign of the 1800′s was that of the Indian Rebellion in 1851. Indian sepoys rebelled against the British East India Company’s rule. The British grossly exaggerated–and sometimes completely fabricated–tales of Indian men raping English women and girls. The stories were intended to illustrate the savagery of the Indian people and reinforce the notion of “the white man’s burden” to rule, induce order, and instill culture in less civilized peoples who could not be trusted to rule themselves.

Abolitionists in both the US and Britain also aggressively used propaganda to support their cause. Certainly the conditions of slavery were heinous, but they often exaggerated or eroticized transgressions, making them more lurid. These efforts were complemented by freed slaves who traveled to speak at public events. The speakers generally made arguments against slavery based on moral, economic, and political grounds. The combination of emotional and rational arguments proved an excellent combination for winning supporters to the abolitionist cause.

Meanwhile another powerful form of communication was emerging in the nineteenth century: the political cartoon. Though illustrated propaganda had been used in the past, the form of the political cartoon was significantly refined during the second half of the century. Thomas Nast is considered one of the forerunners of this format.

Global Conflict Gives Propaganda New Power

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This 1919 propaganda publication assails the Shantung settlement incorporated in the Treaty of Versailles.

World War I saw the first large-scale, formalized propaganda production. Emperor Wilhelm of Germany immediately established an unofficial propaganda machine with the creation of the Central Office for Foreign Services. One of the office’s primary duties was to distribute propaganda to neutral countries.

After the war broke out, however, Britain immediately severed the undersea cables that connected Germany to the rest of the world; Germany was limited to using a powerful wireless transmitter to broadcast pro-German news to other nations. The country also set up mobile cinemas, which would be sent to the troops at the front lines. The films emphasized the power, history, and inevitable victory of the German Volk.

Meanwhile, the British propaganda machine was regarded as an “impressive exercise in improvisation.” It was rapidly brought under government control as the War Propaganda Bureau. Journalist Charles Masterson led the organization. On September 2, 1914, Masterson invited Britain’s leading writers to a meeting to discuss potential messaging. Attendees included Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton, Ford Madox Ford, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and HG Wells. Winnie-the-Pooh author AA Milne would later be recruited to covertly write propaganda.

The propaganda of World War I was frequently based on complete exaggeration or misinformation. For example, nurse Edith Cavell was executed for treason after using her position as a nurse to help soldiers escape from behind German lines. The episode was used to exaggerate German atrocities, and it was even made into a movie. (Read more here.) Indeed, by the end of the war, people had begun to tire of propaganda.

Yet the British propaganda machine was quite effective. It is frequently credited with persuading the United States to enter the war in the first place. Adolf Hitler actually studied British propaganda after the war, declaring it both brilliant and effective. He would later enlist Joseph Goebbels to help with propaganda during World War II, and the two proved an indomitable team. They masterminded multiple campaigns to justify eugenics programs, extermination of target populations, and other atrocities. The Allies countered with propaganda that vilified the Germans.

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This collection of South Vietnamese GVN propaganda were probably air drop leaflets. Though usually dropped in mass quantities, few survive.

When the true horrors of Nazi Germany came to light, the extreme power of propaganda was terribly apparent. The word “propaganda” soon developed a negative connotation, one that it still carries to this day in the English-speaking world. Airdrop leaflet campaigns during unpopular engagements like the Korean War and Vietnam War often brought the communication even lower.

Now it’s common for a government authority to regulate propaganda, and it may be used for more innocuous purposes like public health and safety campaigns. But in non-democratic countries, propaganda continues to flourish as a means for indoctrinating citizens, and this practice is unlikely to cease in the future.

Related Posts:
Edith Cavell: Nurse, Humanitarian, and Traitor? 
AA Milne: Legendary Author and Ambivalent Pacifist

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AA Milne: Legendary Children’s Author and Ambivalent Pacifist

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AA Milne with son, Christopher Robin (1925). Christopher later resented having been the inspiration for the eponymous character in Milne’s classic ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ tales.

Alan Alexander Milne came to regret that his beloved Winnie-the-Pooh series overshadowed his other works. Yet some of his most interesting pieces were never even attributed to him. An outspoken pacifist during World War I, Milne secretly served in Britain’s M17b unit, writing pro-war propaganda. But by World War II, Milne’s views on war had changed, creating a rift between him and beloved author PG Wodehouse.

Born on January 18, 1882 in Scotland, Milne spent his childhood in London. His tutor, the young HG Wells, was, according to Milne “a great writer and a great friend.” Milne went on to Westminster School and Trinity College. He edited Granta for a year, and his preliminary literary efforts appeared in Punch magazine. Just after his 24th birthday, Milne became the assistant editor of Punch. He held the post until World War I began.

An Outspoken Pacifist

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AA Milne on the Western Front, 1916

At the start of World War I, Milne enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He served as a signalling officer and did a brief stint in Paris before being discharged due to trench fever. Milne never even fired at an enemy; indeed, his most notable service remained a complete secret until recently. Thanks to a set of long-lost documents secretly saved from destruction, we now know that Milne was part of the classified M17b unit.

Established in 1916, the unit included twenty of Britain’s top writers of the time. Their mission: to produce propaganda that would sustain support for the war at a time when the number of casualties was rapidly rising and anti-war movements were sprouting all over Europe. The unit not only wrote accounts of Victoria’s Cross winners and other war heroes, but they also focused on the atrocities perpetrated by the Germans.

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Captain James Lloyd

Alongside Milne were Cecil Street, the author of the Dr. Priestley novels; “the Navvy Poet” Patrick MacGill; Roger Pocock, the world-traveling author; JP Morton, who earned his fame with The Bystander; and Captain James Lloyd, who was recruited to join the unit after being wounded in combat. It was Captain Lloyd who defied orders and took about 150 of the unit’s classified documents home. They were discovered last year by his great nephew Jeremy Alder, who discovered them just before they were going to be thrown away.

Among the documents recovered was The Green Book, which is marked “for private circulation.” There were likely no more than twenty copies ever published. The pamphlet included contributions from the unit’s authors and poked fun at the task of creating government propaganda. Milne’s own contributions illustrate how onerous he found the task. In “Captain William Shakespeare, of a Cyclist Battalion,” Milne writes:

In M17b
who loves to lie with me
About atrocities
And Hun corpse factories
Come hither, come hither, come hither,
Here shall we see
No enemy
But sit all day and blather

In “Some Early Propagandists,” also compiled in The Green Book, Milne writes about Paul von Hindenburg, the German Field Marshal. Hindenburg would go on to become Germany’s President and to appoint Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.

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Captain Lloyd’s cache of M17b documents, which included ‘The Green Book’

After the war ended, Milne went on to great success, largely due to his Winnie-the-Pooh series. He also published Peace with Honour: an Enquiry Into the War Convention, which was an overtly pacifist work. Milne said that he wrote it because “I want everybody to think (as I do) that war is poison, and not (as so many think) an overstrong, extremely unpleasant medicine.”

World War II Brings a Change of Heart

But by World War II, Milne had changed his mind. In 1940, he even went so far as to publish War with Honour, in which he states, “War is something of a man’s own fostering; and if all mankind renounces it, then it is no longer there.” Soon Milne inflicted his newfound hawkishness on PG Wodehouse, an author with whom he’d previously enjoyed mutual admiration.

Milne had long enjoyed Wodehouse’s writing–he even read it to his own son, Christopher Robin, instead of his own stories. But as Wodehouse’s career took off in the 1930′s, Milne’s was burning less brightly. When Wodehouse began doing radio broadcasts for the Nazis, Milne was first in line to accuse the imprisoned author of treason, possibly out of jealousy. Wodehouse and his wife were in France when the Nazis invaded in 1940. They were taken to an internment camp. A few Nazis had known Wodehouse thanks to his Hollywood projects, and they asked Wodehouse to do radio broadcasts detailing his experiences at the camp.

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The above appeared in a British newspaper while Wodehouse was still at the internment camp.

Wodehouse likely had little say in the matter; after all, did one really argue with the Nazis? Wodehouse complied, though his broadcasts were probably far from what the Nazis had in mind; with characteristic wit, Wodehouse made sport of the Nazis. After reading the transcripts, one British Air Marshal marveled that the Nazis had permitted Wodehouse to complete five broadcasts; “Why the Germans let him say all this I cannot think,” he observed, “They have either got more sense of humor than I credit them with,or it just slipped past the censor. Wodehouse has probably been shot by now.”

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The above was published in the ‘LA Times’ on December 27, 1940.

When Wodehouse’s countrymen found out about the broadcasts, they were furious. Even though they’d never head them, they were confident that Wodehouse had agreed to the task in exchange for favored treatment. People vociferously excoriated Wodehouse, and Milne was chief among his detractors. The furor soon grew into hysteria. Milne dismissed the possibility that Wodehouse had simply been naive, calling the author irresponsible. He said that Wodehouse “has encouraged in himself a natural lack of interest in ‘politics’–’politics’ being all the things grown-ups talk about at dinner while one is hiding under the table. Things, for instance like the last war, which found and kept him in America, and post-war taxes, which chased him back and forth across the Atlantic.”

Wodehouse was released in 1941. He was cleared of any wrongdoing but was unable to overcome the stigma that had tarnished his reputation. Wodehouse would exact some revenge in “The Mating Season” and “Rodney Has a Relapse,” where he mocks the literary insignificance of Milne’s work and points out that Milne had exploited his own young son to attain literary fame. Wodehouse also once admitted, “Nobody could be more anxious than myself…that Alan Alexander Milne would trip over a loose bootlace and break his bloody neck.”

Milne and Wodehouse never spoke again, and all evidence suggests that Milne held on to the grudge till the end of his life. Wodehouse, on the other hand, was able to let go. When he learned that Milne was ailing, he expressed regret and noted that Milne was “about my favorite author.” Regardless of how they felt about each other, both AA Milne and PG Wodehouse remain beloved figures in modern British literature.

Related Posts:
Edith Cavell: Nurse, Historian, and Traitor? 
The Man Behind the Beloved ‘Freddy’ Series

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Edith Cavell, Nurse, Humanitarian, and Traitor?

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It’s not unheard of for nurses to serve in extraordinary ways, but Edith Cavell went far beyond her nursing duties during World War I. The British nurse and patriot was executed for treason during World War I. Both the British and American governments would propagandize her death to bolster support for the Allied cause.

Cavell was born on December 4, 1865. She trained at the London Hospital under Matron Eva Luckes and earned a reputation as a wonderfully capable nurse. In 1907, she was recruited by Dr. Antoine Depage to be matron of the newly established L’Ecole Belge d’Infirmieres Diplomees in Brussels. Cavell flourished there, and by 1910 she “felt that the profession of nursing [had] gained sufficient foothold in Belgium” to warrant a scholarly journal for the discipline. She launched L’infirmiere that same year.

An Accomplished Nurse with a Humanitarian Mission

By 1911, Cavell was the training nurse for three hospitals, 24 schools, and 13 kindergartens in Belgium. When World War I broke out, the Red Cross assumed control of Cavell’s hospitals. Cavell, famous for saying “Patriotism is not enough,” threw herself into her work, saving the lives of countless soldiers on both sides of the war.

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Cavell’s story was adapted for the silver screen, first as propaganda in 1919, and again in 1939 when it revived anti-German sentiments. 

Cavell was one of many nurses recruited by the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) to gather intelligence on the Germans. But in November 1914, she put these duties aside to begin funneling British and French soldiers out of Belgium and into neutral Holland. Cavell tirelessly dedicated herself to these efforts, eventually raising suspicion. On August 3, 1915, Cavell was arrested by the Germans.

Although Cavell had indeed committed espionage, the Germans chose to try her for treason. Cavell was incredibly outspoken after her arrest, making no attempt to defend herself. She openly admitted her actions in three separate written statements and multiple verbal interrogations. Unfortunately for Cavell, under the auspices of the first Geneva Convention, the death penalty was a permissible punishment for treason.

Edith-Cavell-NursingThe British claimed that their hands were tied in the matter. The US government did put some pressure on Germany, reminding German officials that the country’s public reputation was already quite tarnished. Only one German intervened on Cavell’s behalf: Baron von der Lancken argued that Cavell should be treated with moderation because she had saved so many German lives. But General von Saubozweig insisted that Cavell be executed swiftly. Of the five people arrested in the case, only Cavell and one other were actually executed; the rest were later released.

Fuel for Allied Propaganda

There are numerous accounts of nursing from World War I, such as Grace MacDougal’s Nursing Adventures: A FANY in France (1917) and Violetta Thurston’s Field Hospital and Flying Column: Being the Journal of an English Nursing Sister in Belgium and Russia (1915). But Edith Cavell would leave a different kind of legacy.

Edith-Cavell-Propaganda

 Rather than leaving an account of her own experiences, Cavell would unwittingly leave her mark on British and American propaganda during World War I. She became the most famous British female Edith_Cavell_Crime_Des_Barbarescasualty of the war. The British government used her story to bolster military recruitment, while the US adopted Cavell to garner favorable sentiment toward the Allied effort–and to demonize the Germans.

Cavell-Propaganda-StampSoon after her death, news reports of questionable veracity emerged. Even the American Journal of Nursing printed a spurious account of Cavell’s execution, in which Cavell had refused to wear a blindfold, fainted in the face of the firing squad, and been shot point blank by a German commanding officer. Eyewitnesses later indicated that this version was false.

Cavell is one of many figures in the history of nursing who have left an indelible mark on the world. She not only made strides as a figure in modern nursing, but also set herself apart as a remarkable humanitarian.

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