The book and its impact
These letters chronicle the professional development of an initially under-trained young woman working as a volunteer nurse in a French hospital for Allied wounded. Throughout her writing, the shortcomings of state provision of medical aid are made clear. The nurse knits the incidents of her personal privations and questions about home into the fabric of her professional life. War wounds and death are explicitly described as are the resourcefulness and ingenuity continually required from the medical staff to bring some measure of succour and relief to the soldiers brought in. Endless stamina is a pre-requisite.
Through its candid descriptions of the conditions of such nursing work, this publication would have encouraged those who felt they could face it to come forward for such work.
This is a series of letters written from 31 July 1915 to 17 September 1916 by a young woman to her uncle and published by him. She is a nurse in an unnamed French hospital. Her uncle’s location in the UK is not given. Their names and all other names in the text are omitted. It is not known if this anonymity is imposed by the wartime censor or if the letters are a fictional device intended to motivate younger women to similar war work as the opening page might suggest.