She Went Back

I take some flack from my academic cronies for focusing on the elite of society. It’s true that I have a rather exclusive group of subjects. That’s how they self-identified. But they were no less human despite being exquisitely dressed. And their stories reveal very real parts of life in the past. And for all the beautiful art and grand houses and domestic staff, their worlds were just as subject to heart-break, joy and bewilderment. Time and again I am taken aback by the internal strength these women exhibited.

Lady Allan is no exception. I told part of her story earlier. What I learned in the archives this Spring was that after the formal grieving for her daughters in Montreal, this brave woman returned to London to continue her war work – undoubtedly carrying an everlasting internal grief with her. That is strength unimaginable to me.

Dundee Evening Telegraph, Monday 8 January 1917

Lady Allan, a prominent Canadian, wife of Sir Montagu Allan of shipping fame, has recently rented 41 Park Street, London. She is an indefatigable worker at the Maple Leaf Club, Connaught Place, where she helps with the canteen, as a member of the Imperial Order of Daughters of the Empire.

Her daughter Martha is an all-round good sport, and a fine type of Canadian girl. She has been taking a long rest since her illness contracted whilst nursing in France.

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