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Women

The women, from outwardly feisty to quietly mutinous, who made the Edwardian era so colorful.

The Lady Journalist

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Edwardian women typing in an office

At the turn of the century, women’s print culture exploded. Between increasing literacy and decreasing costs of printing, and the desire to circulate knowledge and ideas, the number of women entering journalism and starting newspapers and magazines changed the landscape of a predominantly male field. This isn’t to say that women weren’t marginalized in the field: in response to the growth in women readers (and the revenue from them), the majority of newspapers tended to only hire women to write “lady’s columns” that focused on domestic concerns such as childcare, fashion, cooking, etc. Nevertheless, women used their positions within traditional journals and those they founded to discuss, debate, and question many of their major issues of the day.

The Woman Question

As seen in a prior post about The New Woman, women at the turn of the century challenged long-held assumptions about gender roles. In a 1902 issue of The Lady’s Realm, Lady De La Warr asked: “Woman’s Position in the Present Day: Has it Improved?”. The countess’s editorial reveals the contradicting views some held of feminism and women’s emancipation, for she considers education of the lower classes a detriment to keeping housemaids and is anti-suffrage, but also states:

“The mere fact of its being dignified by the name of “The Woman Question” shows its importance, for no one has ever heard of a man’s question…But if we look at the question closely, we see that it resolves itself into some very simple ones, which are mainly these: “Has a woman a right to live in the world on the same terms as a man has—to work as he works, to be paid like him, and to govern with him; in fact, to use the world as he uses it, to be treated by it as it treats him?”…It does not rest with women to prove why they should have all these things, but with men to prove why they should not.”

The Lady’s Realm volume 12

Muckrakers

In the United States, “muckrakers”–a word coined by President Theodore Roosevelt to describe the new journalistic trend of exposing the seedy underbelly of American business and society–were mostly men. The majority of women involved in such pursuits were considered “stunt journalists,” no better than entertainers at a circus; yet, women journalists were forced to undertake so-called stunts in order to break out of the “ladies columns.” Nellie Bly is the most famous (her heyday was in the 1880s), but other women took up the mantle of exposing the inequalities and iniquities that affected women and children, thus melding the domestic sphere in which they were supposed to be and the call for reform that was a muckrakers’ bread and butter. In 1903, sisters-in-law Bessie and Marie Van Vorst went undercover as workers in factories in major U.S. cities to recount the horrific conditions through which America’s well-to-do obtained their linens and other fine goods in The Woman Who Toils: Being the Experiences of Two Gentlewomen as Factory Girls, a collection of the articles they wrote for a magazine.

Labour appeared in the guise of a monster feeding itself on human lives. To every new impression I responded with indiscriminate compassion. It is impossible for the imagination to sustain for more than a moment at a time the terrible fatigue which a new hand like myself is obliged to endure day after day; the disgust at foul smells, the revulsion at miserable food soaked in grease, the misery of a straw mattress, a sheetless bed with blankets whose acrid odour is stifling. The mind cannot grasp what it means to be frantic with pain in the shoulders and back before nine in the morning, and to watch the clock creep around to six before one has a right to drop into the chair that has stood near one all day long. Yet it is not until the system has become at least in a great measure used to such physical effort that one can judge without bias. When I had grown so accustomed to the work that I was equal to a long walk after ten hours in the factory; when I had become so saturated with the tenement smell that I no longer noticed it; when any bed seemed good enough for the healthy sleep of a working girl, and any food good enough to satisfy a hungry stomach, then and then only I began to see that in the great unknown class there were a multitude of classes which, aside from the ugliness of their esthetic surroundings and the intellectual inactivity which the nature of their occupation imposes, are not all to be pitied: they are a collection of human individuals with like capacities to our own. The surroundings into which they are born furnish little chance for them to develop their minds and their tastes, but their souls suffer nothing from working in squalour and sordidness. Certain acts of impulsive generosity, of disinterested kindness, of tender sacrifice, of loyalty and fortitude shone out in the poverty-stricken wretches I met on my way, as the sun shines glorious in iridescence on the rubbish heap that goes to fertilize some rich man’s fields.

Racism & Lynching

Of the women journalists who wrote about racism and lynching, Ida B. Wells is the most known–and her writing straddles the lines between muckraking, race reform, and women’s suffrage, for she simultaneously exposed extrajudicial violence, racial discrimination, and the rights of black women. Writing at the same time was Rebecca Latimer Felton, a suffragist–and proslavery and pro-lynching activist. Both women’s writings and the backdrop against which they wrote is vividly detailed in Crystal Feimster’s Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Rape and Lynching. Black women in particular found journalism the most expedient method of being heard above not only white men and women, but black men as well, and Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin’s Boston-based newspaper, The Woman’s Era was the first newspaper published by and for black women. In an editorial against lynching, Ruffin castigates American society for its lack of concern for certain lives in comparison to capitalistic concerns:

In his very admirable and searching address delivered in this city, April 16th, judge Albion W. Tourgee proposed as a remedy to prevent the lynching of colored people at the South, that the country where lynchings occur be compelled by law to pension the wife and children of the murdered man. This, he said would make murder costly and in self defense the local authorities would put a stop to it. At first blush, this is an attractive suggestion. But why not hang the murderers? Why make a distinction between the murderers of white men and the murderers of colored men? If the punishment for murder is hanging why hang the murderer in one case and in the other let the murderer go free and exact of the county a fine? If an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is the rule in one case why should it not be the rule in the other case? No, the truth is this, nothing is to be expected from the South. The colored people must look to the general government. It has a right to their services and lives in time of war. They have a right to its protection certainly in time of peace. It is idle to say that it must leave to state governments the protection of the lives of its citizens. Why not leave to state governments the punishment counterfeiters? If the United States government can protect money, the property of its citizens against destruction at the hands of the counterfeiter, it can protect the owners of the property against loss of life at the hands of the murderer. It is an astounding proposition that a great nation is powerful enough to stop white moonshines [sic] from making whiskey but is unable to prevent the moonshiners or any one else from murdering its citizens. It can protect corn but cannot protect life. It can prevent the sale of tobacco unless the seller pays a revenue to the government but it cannot protect its citizens at any price. It can go to war, spend millions of dollars and sacrifice thousands of lives to avenge the death of a naturalized white citizen slain by a foreign government on foreign soil, but cannot spend a cent to protect a loyal, native-born colored American murdered without provocation by native or alien in Alabama. Shame on such a government! The administration in power is particeps criminis with the murderers. It can stop lynching, and until it does so, it has on its hands the innocent blood of its murdered citizens.

“How to Stop Lynching” The Woman’s Era, May 1, 1894

Women’s Suffrage

The question of the right to vote preoccupied the writings of the majority of women on both sides of the Atlantic. In the Ladies Home Journal, Jane Addams declared that:

[M]any women to-day are failing to discharge their duties to their own households properly simply because they do not perceive that as society grows more complicated it, is necessary that woman shall extend her sense of responsibility to many things outside of her own home if she would continue to preserve the home in its entirety. A woman’s simplest duty, one would say, is to keep her house clean and wholesome and to feed her children properly. Yet if she lives in a tenement house, as so many of my neighbors do, she cannot fulfill these simple obligations by her own efforts because she is utterly dependent upon the city administration for the conditions which render decent living possible…a tenement house mother may see her children sicken and die of diseases from which she alone is powerless to shield them, although her tenderness and devotion are unbounded. She cannot even secure untainted meat for her household, she cannot provide fresh fruit, unless the meat has been inspected by city officials, and the decayed fruit, which is so often placed upon sale in the tenement districts, has been destroyed in the interests of public health. In short, if woman would keep on with her old business of caring for her house and rearing her children she will have to have some conscience in regard to public affairs lying quite outside of her immediate household. The individual conscience and devotion are no longer effective.

[Source]

In a British journal, Constance Smedley argued for the right of married women to vote:

It can hardly be disputed that woman’s intelligence and practicality is equal in the main to man’s. If there were such a thing as an electoral examination women would not complain of having to pass it; nor would the voting register show an amazing preponderance of masculine names. Given two beings of equal intelligence, the plea of withholding the right to vote from one on the ground that she lacks an economic stake in the country, is rather a feeble one when applied to the woman who has often given up lucrative employment to look after a man’s house, bear his children, and make a home for him and them. If such a woman trusts her husband too completely to ask for a settlement from him upon her marriage, and consequently freely gives the myriad services of a wife and mother, nurse and housekeeper, in exchange for a home alone, I do not see that it follows that she should be disqualified from having a voice in her own and her children’s destinies, or from being directly represented in the Government which she must obey. If she is one of the most valuable of the nation’s citizens she should have a voice in its affairs.

[Source]

Further Reading

Front-Page Girls: Women Journalists in American Culture and Fiction, 1880-1930 by Jean Marie Lutes
Ladies of the Press: The Story of Women in Journalism by an Insider by Ishbel Ross
Around the World in Seventy-Two Days and Other Writings by Nellie Bly, edited by Jean Marie Lutes
The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader by Ida B. Wells and Mia Bay
Taking on the Trust: How Ida Tarbell Brought Down John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil by Steve Weinberg

Fascinating Women: Gibson Girls Gone Wild!

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“Girls Will Be Girls” by Charles Dana Gibson, found at Blog of an Art Admirer.

In February I will be boarding a plane for Manila. It will take me 24 hours airport to airport, and that will feel like a long time. I will probably complain about how tired I am, or how small airline seats have become. Both will be true.

But my Edwardian sisters—known as “Gibson girls” after popular illustrator Charles Dana Gibson—would be shocked by how spoiled I am. For them, a trip from Boston to the Philippines would have taken seven weeks. And they thought themselves lucky, since the 1869 opening of the Suez Canal had cut the trip in half. Their bargain ticket would have cost $120 in 1900—the equivalent of almost $3500 today. My ticket cost around $800.

I also have another advantage: knowledge. I know what the Philippines are like. Things may have changed in the last five years, as things do, but generally I know what I will find. But my three Gibson girls featured here—Mary Fee, Annabelle Kent, and Rebecca Parrish, M.D.—did not. These women either had no information or bad information about the Philippines. For example, a United States senator, John W. Daniel, from Virginia explained that “there are spotted people there, and, what I have never heard of in any other country, there are striped people there with zebra signs upon them.” To you or me such drivel is beyond racist to the point of being ludicrously stupid, but Senator Daniel thought this information important enough to pass along in the middle of a government hearing.

If travel to the Philippines was long, expensive, and potentially dangerous, why did women like Fee, Kent, and Parrish do it? Their reasons probably varied. Fee, a teacher, may have gone for the good salary; Kent wanted to prove that she could travel the globe alone; and Parrish was a medical missionary whose faith led her to the islands. But there is one thing all three women had in common: they were more adventurous than the average man of their day. And they were probably more intrepid than me.

From left to right: the cover of Mary H. Fee’s memoir (from the New York Society Library); a portrait of Annabelle Kent in China (from her book Round the World in Silence); the legacy of Rebecca Parish as seen through a nurses’ basketball team for the Mary Johnston Hospital in 1909 (print for sale on eBay); and the classic Gibson girl image on a music score (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Let’s start with Mary Fee, principal of the Philippine School of Arts and Trades in Roxas City. Fee was one of the first teachers sent by the U.S. Government to establish a secular, coeducational, public school system throughout the Philippines. The Thomasites, as they were called, were sent all over the islands with their Baldwin Primers to read lessons on snow, apples, and George Washington—and none of the students knew what the heck they were talking about. Mary Fee realized that the point was to teach her students to read and write in English, not to have a comprehensive understanding of American meteorology. Soon she was one of four authors (including another woman) of a new Philippine Education series. The First Year Book had lessons about Ramon and Adela, not Jack and Jill. They learned about carabao, not cows. Stories included the American flag, but it was small and in black-and-white, not a full-page color spread. The women went to market for fish and mangoes, and they wore traditional clothing. In other words, the book made sense to the children who read it.

Two pages from The Baldwin Primer and two from The First Year Book, showing the differences in content for the Philippine audience.

I relied upon Fee’s memoir, A Woman’s Impressions of the Philippines, for help in creating my character Georgina Potter in Under the Sugar Sun. I exercised artistic license, of course: Fee’s faithful description of the Christmas Eve pageant, for example, was turned into a courtship opportunity for my hero, Javier Altarejos. Though Fee would eventually return to the United States—not marry a Filipino sugar baron—I am happy to say that her spirit lives on.

In comparison to my careful researching of Mary Fee, I stumbled upon Annabelle Kent’s raucous description of arriving in Manila by ship. While everyone else had horrible seasickness, Kent thought the bumpy ride a blast. The ship bucked like a bronco, and she reveled in it. As I read more, though, I found Kent’s explanation for her sturdy sea-legs: she was deaf. She traveled the globe by herself without an ASL interpreter, and that took guts. It seemed to have started on a type of dare. Kent wrote:

A deaf young lady made the remark to me once that it was a waste of time and money for a deaf person to go to Europe, as she could get so little benefit from the trip. I told her that as long as one could see there was a great deal one could absorb and enjoy.

I knew right then that Annabelle Kent would be my model for a new character, Della Berget, in Hotel Oriente. At a time when American senators were postulating about people striped like zebras, Kent was getting a steamer and seeing everything for herself, including schools for the deaf in China and Japan. The book is the most joyful travel memoir I have ever read.

My final Gibson girl, Rebecca Parrish, was used to being a trendsetter. She was a doctor at a time when medicine was a possible career choice for a woman, but not a common one. And, in the Philippines, it was unheard of. One of her first skeptical patients asked, “Can a woman know enough to be a doctor?” Parrish had to prove herself a million times, by her own account, but she did.

Philippines stamp commemorating the centennial of Parrish’s creation, the Mary Johnson Hospital. Image courtesy of Colnect stamp catalog. The hospital on the left was Parrish’s original, which was destroyed in World War II. It was rebuilt larger, as pictured on the right.

Parrish built a 55-bed hospital in Tondo, the Mary Johnston Hospital, that operated on the principle that no one could be turned away. The hospital began its working life fighting a cholera epidemic but transitioned into a maternity clinic with a milk feeding station. Today, it is a teaching hospital specializing in internal medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, and pediatrics. Parrish also opened a training institute for nurses. If the doctor seems like a busy woman, you are correct. She wrote: “Hundreds of days—thousands of days, I worked twenty hours of the twenty-four among the sick, doing all that was in my power to do my part, and hoping the best that could be had for all.” I get tired just thinking about it.

Maybe these Gibson girls—Mary Fee, Annabelle Kent, and Rebecca Parrish—did not go “wild” in the cheap DVD series kind of way, but by contemporary standards they were braver than Indiana Jones. My trip to Manila will be tame by comparison, but I will try to honor the memory of those who came before me…and pick the in-flight movie they would want me to see.

The Lady Eve

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The first book of Eve / Drawn by Fish
From “The first book of Eve / Drawn by Fish”

The early twentieth century can be considered the beginning of the golden age of illustration. From James Montgomery Flagg, to Charles Dana Gibson, to Nell Brinkley, magazines and advertisers and newspapers attracted and delighted millions of consumers using eye-catching graphics. On the other side of the pond, illustrators like Leslie Ward, Beatrix Potter, and Arthur Rackham, to name a few, brought England’s luminaries–and nature–to the masses. The popularity of witty illustrations didn’t end during WWI; in fact, it grew, particularly when paired with an unforgettable character. Britons of the Great War era found this in “Eve.” Created by Olivia Maitland Davidson in early 1914, the character was a “chatty, light-hearted society girl, flirtatious, vivatcious, fun loving, fond of fashion and ‘frivol’ (frivolity).” 1 Illustrated by Anne Harriet Fish, “Eve” harkened back to Aubrey Beardsley, but with an insouciant, feminine flair. Between the two talented women, “Eve” took readers’ minds off the grimness of the war with her exploits and adventures, and, as Luci Gosling argues, acted as a “tour guide to Great War Britain” through her letters to her best friend Betty.


August 5th, 1914.

Oh, Betty, so it’s really, really war ! It’s been the awfullest week-end … of course Cowes and every other plan blown to the winds utterly. One has just waited — your Eve must be at the heart of things, as well as of men! And here in London these last days the very heart of the world has seemed to beat. They were so vast, so far-reaching, the issues facing

England, our England,

one has felt as if we stood on the edge of a precipice.

Everything else has seemed dwarfed. With such great affairs at stake, even one’s own small personal interests, generally so important, haven’t mattered; they’ve been engulfed and swallowed up in the great cataclysm. No one’s cared to go anywhere or do anything, or make any kind of plans. We’ve been like a people suffering from shock, and even the masses didn’t, thank goodness, maffick over the Declaration of War — the nearest they got to it being to collect in large clumps round the Palace and at Westminster and cheer Majesties, Ministers and anyone else who turned up.

Nothing’s been talked of and nothing thought about except war, and all war may mean to this little island we all, at the bottom of our unexcitable English hearts, adore so passionately and so devotedly. I suppose truly and clearly to realise the real depth and size and nature of this most awful European convulsion — that isn’t possible But it’s been a nerve-shattering two weeks. We were all for peace, and we came to war. Truly a mad world, my masters.

Yours sadly,
Eve.

October 21st, 1914.
Dearest Betty,

What’s been christened ” the Antwerp week-end ” has been a stern chastener of our spirits. And the treachery in South Africa, on top of the fearful wearingness of no news at all from the Front, fairly put the lid on it.

Still, here in London, save for the darkness, you’d even now hardly know we were at war — not from any outward and visible signs, anyway. The Dansants are still going merrily in Bond Street and elsewhere, you just can’t move at the Savoy for the dancing supper crowds, and ” There wasn’t a seat in the house,” I heard, on the very day that “impregnable” Antwerp fell, at a theatre where a German musical comedy is being run by a Hun proprietor.

But at Ostend, such is the rush of our wounded, they say they’ve been performing operations without chloroform — the supply of everything, doctors and nurses as well as medical necessities, is quite unequal to the demand. The W.O., I suppose, is doing its best, and everyone says the heroism of the R.A.M.C. in the field is simply wonderful. But it’s all been a million- times-bigger thing than anyone ever imagined, and our poor men, of course, are the sufferers for the muddle.

And meantime — well, really, you know, Betty, I’m not sure there isn’t a limit in war-time to the Business-as-Usual, Everything-as-Usual idea. Life must go on, of course, even in the midst of the dreadfullest of wars. But it’s really seemed hardly decent — the rush to Scotland, the crowd at the Cesarewitch, and the swarms shopping, theatreing, motoring and feeding just as usual everywhere, while over there it’s all we can do to keep our end up against the Hun and things are so awf’ly critical and difficult. It’s a much more in-the-picture, tho’ a rather touching sight — all those hundreds of thousands of our civilian men drilling away so intently in all the squares and open places everywhere. Most are hardly even in uniform yet, the rush on the factories and shops has been so tremendous. But they’re all tryin’ so very hard to be soldiers, poor dears, that sometimes they nearly make me cry, they do.

Doesn’t make things ‘zacly easier for them, you know, that such a lot of the men who rushed to the colours are the kind that aren’t used to discomfort. Roughing it in camps and sticking it in fearf’ly leaky huts is a stiff strain on the quality of patriotism, and some poor dears who’ve never slept before in anything but fine linen I’m told find the frequent liveliness of the army blanket not the least of life’s new crosses. But they’ve done a good five months’ work in five weeks, they say, such is their martial ardour, at which rate we’ll really have an army by Christmas, won’t we? And, ‘cording to the optimists, it’s just about by that date, too, you know, that we’ll also be starting on the long, long road to — no, not Tipperary, but Berlin.

Women, too, of course, are really getting through quite a lot of war- work, and “comforts” are going out to the troops and the Navy in such billions they say the ports are blocked with ’em. In the race to be charitable, seems only the motor-car owners aren’t quite coming up to the scratch. Cars are simply dreff’ly wanted in France, ‘specially for the wounded. But walk down Piccadilly any fine morning or afternoon and you can still count in hundreds the cars de luxe carrying ladies de luxe to nowhere in particular.

Yours, nearly dead knittin’,
Eve.

March 1st, 1916.

Betty mine,

You wouldn’t b’lieve how womanly we’re getting ! Work-parties are the rage. And what ‘muses me is how the winsome war-workers always bind their heads up a la Red Cross sister and garb themselves that way, too. Very becoming, you know ; and I s’pose head-dress and uniform do help after you’ve sewn about the fifteenth shirt for soldiers. But they do say that gags ‘d be really more useful than anything. The talk that goes on in those work-rooms . . .

Rather a blow, by the way, when Lord Grenfell at the Horticultural Society’s Show last week said we simply must grow vegetables, and didn’t even mention flowers. Gardening’s been the last cult we thought the old war ‘d interfere with — so innocent and healthy and all that, you know, and so smart.

The Very Best people are all simply mad on Japanese gardens and sunk ones and water ones and pergolas and rose – walks and herb – runs and lavender hedges and all the rest. The talk of the town’s all of money, money, money; and we’re watchin’ out fearf’ly interested to see how the new War Savings Committee is going to start in to make people save ‘cos of the “grave condition of national finance.” Which even that most irrepressible of optimists, the P.M., now finds not only a serious but a ” staggering ‘ burden. There’s at least one millionaire among ’em, and a few more not eggzacly paupers, you know — Lord Curzon f ‘rinstance, and the Archbish of Canterbury, and Lord Burnham and Lord Balfour ; and p’r’aps to the mere outsider it doesn’t look as if domestic thrift’s quite the sort of subject for these kind of people to give advice on to those who support life on £2 a week as against their £200 or so.

Still, there certainly is quite a lot of economy goin’. Closing down the houses you don’t want and cutting down the courses at dinner f ‘rinstance, and talking about giving up your maid. But even then I s’pose we’re still left with lots more luxuries than’s really necessary to support life. There’s a story the Germ women are selling their wedding-rings to pay for tho war. Haven’t heard of anyone goin’ to any lengths like that here, have you? But really, you know, we get a bit discouraged at times. Did you hear of that canteen secretary person who wrote to tho papers the other day to say it ‘d be much better if the stream of ” fitful, irresponsible, capricious and easily offended lady workers “would do their own house work and so set free the real ivorkers? Great mind to take along Tou-Tou to bite her, I have.

The crocuses are all blazing away on the grass in the Park, and the trees bursting into bud, and the birds chirpin’ — another spring and still that awful war ! Tou-Tou and me we’re fair fed up with it we are. Really, if they ever do fix up about that new Air Minister they say we simply must have, I think I’ll have to get him to fly with me. There must be somewhere where there isn’t a war !

Yours flightily,
Eve.

April 10th, 1917.
Dearest Betty,

So America’s really ” in ” at last ! Well, well . . . Better late, etc., but we won’t be able to call her ‘zacly a hustler any more, will we? Tho’ they do say that the U.S.A. Navy has really been quite looking forward to some fun some time. Fightin’s after all the fashion, you see, and for God’s own partic’lar country to be out of the ” movement ” for nearly three years . . . But now they have come, makes you quite breffless, the huge numbers the country that was too proud to fight seems to have to juggle with. Fifteen to twenty millions of men of military age ready to draw upon straight away. , . . Think of it !
Talk about some of us ” enjoying the war.” In this little land that we love we’ve known anyway a few war trials — our men leaving us every day and every day returning hurt and broken, or not returning ever; air raids and bombardments and conscription and all the rest. And never even at our gayest have we risen to such heights of revelry as they have in New York since Europe went to war and poured out her millions in millions.

Dancing’s the great craze, led by the Vernon Castles ; and the fearful expense of everything doesn’t in the very least matter ‘cos everyone’s got money to blow.

Here, so set is Sir Frankie Lloyd upon the primrose path of purity as the proper place for the modern soldier-man to walk in, that really we look like becoming respectable to tedium, and deader than the dodo soon will be our latent passion for dancing in the public places rag-time from Kentucky, Paris and Broadway. But the truth is, you know, as even the fluffiest are discovering, there just isn’t time for anything much these days ‘cept for battle-fighting. ” The strength of the brute’s stupendous even now,” a letter from the thick of it’s just told me. “Don’t you listen when they tell you the Hun’s nearly done. Done ! Not a bit of it. Much more like getting a fresh wind.”

And this Russian Revolution business — what does it all mean, and what’s it the beginning of, and how will it affect us? More effort, more treasure poured out, more everything for poor dear England, I suppose.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare,

sings W. H. Davies, poet. But it’ll have to be a “poor life,” I’m afraid, for once again the great man-power question’s the topic. They say if they can’t get enough from the rejected and Whitehall and the trade unions they’ll really have to put up the age-limit to forty-five and even fifty. Which, of course, the ‘thorities most dreff’ly don’t want to do. It’s this lot that pays most of the taxes, you see, and with a seven or eight million a day war to keep goin’, s’pose we do want a few businesses turning the money out.

They say, by the Way, that theatres are getting it a bit in the neck under the war regime. But I haven’t noticed any slump, tho’ really, you know, if revue does get soon to the shut-eye stage you couldn’t be frightfully surprised. No one’s said one funny thing or sung a pretty one at the last fifty I’ve been to. Made me almost agree with Mr. Bernard Shaw on the subject — ” The effect of revue is to reconcile me to death “; tho’ I wouldn’t like to be quite as drastic as Augustus John, who says, ” All are rotten. I hate ’em.” Nicely dined and wined, I can always do with anyway an hour of ’em, or say half an hour.

Yours While the Great Big World Keeps Turning,

Eve.

The Letters of Eve by Olivia Maitland-Davidson

  1. Great War Britain: The First World War at Home by Lucinda Gosling.