Sunday 27 March 2016

Sunday WW1 Remembered...Guest Author, Juliet Greenwood

As part of my ongoing tribute during this centenary of WW1, I am delighted to feature the work of some excellent authors who have written novels set during The Great War

Please welcome the author

Juliet ~ Thank you so much for spending time with us and thank you for sharing your thoughts on The Women of WW1...

The moment I decided my next book was going to be set in the period of WW1, I knew I wanted to write about the experience of the women and the civilians. So much has been written about the trenches and the battlefields, but, until recently, the role of women has not been part of the story of The Great War.

In retelling the story of war, the civilians are still largely forgotten, and yet that is the experience of the majority of those living through, and touched by, war in all its forms. Until I began research for ‘We That are Left’ I hadn’t thought of the huge role played by the women and the civilians. Those in Britain didn’t have the horror of invasion, like those in France and Belgium, but as an island nation that imported much of its basic food and materials, keeping daily life going soon became a matter of survival. One of the most basic things is food, not only for the civilians, but also to be able to feed the troops on the battlefield. As in the Second World War, it was the women and the children who took over the role of the missing agricultural workers. Women became engineers, worked in munitions factories, and, like my heroine Elin, took over the running of country estates, discovering that they were just – if not more – capable than their husbands.

Women’s lives had been changing before the war, as they fought the right to education, to become doctors and scientists, to be able to earn their own money, and not to be tied to an abusive husband – and even for the simple right to wear clothing that did not restrict every movement. Many women already organised charity hospitals and were active in local politics, where they could vote and stand for office.

All these women swung into action once war was declared. Celebrated at the time, their stories have largely been forgotten. Women became spies, using their reputation for female cowardice and stupidity to gather information from behind enemy lines, sending information in coded letters back to London, where armies of women deciphered them meticulously. They worked on the front line, not only nursing and working as surgeons under fire, but driving ambulances and feeding the often hungry troops. The extraordinary Mairi Chisholm and Elsie Knocker ran their own first aid post near Ypres, later being awarded the Order of Leopold II, Knights Cross by King Albert I of Belgium, and the British Military Medal. 

Their story is fascinating, as retold here:  and in Diane Atkinson’s ‘Elsie and Mari Go to War’.

The Duchess of Sutherland not only continued nursing as the German bombardment fell around her and her field hospital fell into German hands, but by sheer force of personality (and aristocratic connections) managed to talk her captors into releasing her, going on to set up and run her own field hospitals in Calais.

Women in WW1 not only played a vital role, but changed their own lives forever. Like Elin, having found their own strengths, and tasted independence and freedom, the world would never be the same again. It was these women who went on to become the businesswomen, doctors and scientists who forged the lives we live today. Women before the war were viewed as children, to be protected and guided, passed from the regulation of a father to that of a husband, while too much thinking would addle their already weak brains and destroy their ability to bear children. Elsie and Mairi, along with the indomitable Duchess of Sutherland, and millions of other brave and heroic woman, ensured that myth could never quite regain its power again.

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.

With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother's recipes and making new friends – and enemies. But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself.

And when the Great War is finally over, Elin's battles prove to have only just begun.


Waterstones Wales Book of the Month,
Wales Independent Bookshops Book of the Month
Wales National Museums Book of the Month, March 2014

Buying and contact links:

Follow on Twitter @julietgreenwood   

Amazon UK    - 

***Juliet 's lovely book "We That Are Left" is on special offer today on Amazon UK . And at only 98p for a kindle copy, its cheaper than an Easter Egg !! ***

Huge thanks to Juliet for sharing her interest in the women of WW1

It's been a real delight to have you as our guest today.



  1. Thank you, Jo, for inviting me onto your blog. It's great to be here and be part of the remembrance of WW1. Maxwell (also ginger, also to be found curled up on a lap next to a book) approves :-)
    Hurrah for the indomitable women of WW1, with not a faint between them!

    1. Thanks so much for spending Easter Sunday with us and for sharing your thoughts about the women of WW1 so eloquently..Love to Maxwell from Jaffa and Happy Easter from us both x

  2. I adore Juliet's books. 'We That Are Left' is brilliant. Juliet is an amazing writer & a generous supporter of other writers. Lovely to read more - see behind the scenes so to speak. Thank you!

    1. Hi Carol, welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you so much for your lovely comments. Glad you have enjoyed reading Juliet's guest post.
      Happy Easter x

  3. A really interesting post. Thank you

    1. Hello Rosalind. Welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post.


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffareadstoo appreciates your interest.