Archives de catégorie : Volume III

Women’s War Writing


The world as we knew it has greatly changed since November 2015 when the ERIBIA[1] seminar that inspired this number took place. At the Université de Caen Normandie, we gathered to correlate issues regarding gender and war writing genres, questioning if there are specific “female” narrative strategies when it comes to writing about the war and also what women’s war writings reveal about their role in these conflicts. We wondered if differences in narrative strategies emerge between prose, poetry, and creative non-fiction genres within war writing genres. And finally, we asked an important question still relevant today: can women be war heroines in Anglophone literature?

At that time, we were looking back upon women’s writings of World War I, World War II, and the Iraqi Wars. We could not know that women would also confront the Coronavirus global pandemic in 2020 and 2021, being present on a different, yet equally mortal, front. Studies indicate that women bore the brunt of the epidemic with additional household chores, financial and economic stressors, expectations of absorbing “care” tasks with a further increased mental load, rises in domestic violence, and managing work from home and child care simultaneously.[2] Not to mention, many women are front-line and essential workers—according to 2020 United Nations data, 70% of health workers and first responders are women at the global level.[3] If the pandemic has drawn our attention to these numerous gender inequities through a new perspective, only time will tell if societies will work to create better gender economic and domestic balance. 

As the world watched Russian forces inch closer to Ukraine, the invasion officially began on February 24, 2022, following the Donbas War of 2014. Within the first 10 days of conflict, 1.5 million Ukrainians, most of whom were women and children, fled the country.[4] For those that remain behind, the Kremlin’s violation of international humanitarian laws means that women are in constant mortal danger as civilians as well as victims of increased sexual violence. Some women are directly engaged in the fighting, or they are taking up support roles. While we have access to more images and information regarding this war, we do not know how, when, or if, this conflict will end. Conceding that in 2015 we were asking ourselves why we should interest ourselves in women’s war writing and testing the question if gender is really that relevant, these two historic moments make it clear that the question of women’s war writing is still all too pertinent.

In this number, women’s war writing is considered to be texts of different genres by women that address concepts and consequences of war. Sometimes, women’s war writing shows up where we least expect it. One of the English-language’s all-time favorite fiction writers, Agatha Christie, was herself a woman writing about war. The Mysterious Affair at Styles(1920) originated from Ms. Christie’s time on her hands working at the dispensary. Her war work equally prepared her with a knowledge of medicine, and more importantly for her future writing, poisons. Here is where we see the influence of World War I on her work, and the writer speaks even more candidly about World War II in Taken by the Flood (1949). In this Hercules Poirot novel, Christie portrays a young woman, Lynn Marchmont, who has returned from the war, having worked as a WREN (Women’s Royal Naval Service). Her war experience does more than provide a background for the story: it gives readers a young heroine with a war story nearly comparable do that of Jake Barnes’s in The Sun Also Rises (1926). Unsettled at home, she refuses to pursue her marriage, and her war experience sets her off on another type of adventure.

What is striking here is that while we expect a good mystery from Agatha Christie, we do not usually turn to Poirot or Miss Marple for women’s war writing. Yet here it is: although Christie herself was not on the front of either World Wars, she manages to capture the female experience of a young woman who has seen too much of the world to settle down happily in Warmsley Vale. Lynn’s interior struggle becomes the subplot of the novel. When taking Christie’s examples into consideration, we realize that women were affected by both World Wars and that women’s presence in war conditions has had an effect on social progress.

This collection of essays, critical translations, film reviews, and a short memoir of the Normandy liberation, aims to offer a range of exemplars on how women’s war experiences, put into writing or film, reflect or solicit social progress regarding women’s rights and equality in American and European societies throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Working chronologically, we begin with Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec‘s analysis of women poets writing of World War I, notably how these poems plead for peace.  Kilgore-Caradec takes us through issues of canonized “war poetry” and the efforts to collect women poet’s WWI experiences into anthologies, placing Teresa Hooley, Carola Oman, May Weddenburn Cannan, and numerous others on our reading radars. In her contribution, Jennifer Shelton focuses more precisely on the nursing stories of Mary Borden, questioning the gender of war and its representation in Borden’s collection The Forbidden Zone (1929). Angelika Schober turns our attention to Edith Stein, again questioning the link between gender and war writing. Canonized as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Stein’s autobiography, Life in a Jewish Family, bears witness to what Jewish life was like in Germany before 1933, focusing on daily life experiences, particularly those of women. To round out the study of women’s writing of WWI, Sarah Montin has translated three poems from Mary Borden, Edith Sitwell, and Eavan Boland, in an effort to open up this women’s war writing to a Francophone audience. Anne Mounic (1955-2022) also makes Katherine Mansfield’s “Indiscreet Journey” and “The Fly” accessible in French through her translations. We offer this posthumous publication as an homage to Anne’s career and poetic legacy. Clementine Tholas has reviewed two period short films, Love and Duty (1916) and A.W.O.L (1919), to demonstrate women’s role in the context of the United States’ intervention in WWI.

As regards to WWII, Amy D. Wells has translated Thérèse Touzeau-Lemarchand‘s short memoire of the liberation of Caen and its surrounding villages. Mme Touzeau’s testimony yet again brings to the forefront the daily experience of women in a war zone: where do women sleep among the ruins, what do they eat, and what they want more than anything—to be reunited with their families.

Transitioning to the 21st century, Aude Pivin offers French translations of contemporary American poet Rosanna Warren’s conflict-inspired texts “The Twelth Day” (2009) and “Fire” (2011). Amy D. Wells returns with her article focusing on the long war with Iraq and Afghanistan, analyzing how American female soldiers are represented in the three different genres of memoir, journalism, and fiction with sources dating from 2003-2015. To wrap up this number, Emilie Cheyroux studies how women leaders are portrayed regarding gender boundaries in the films Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Sicario (2015).

Returning to one of our initial questions—can women be war heroines in Anglophone literature—we hope readers will find an answer for themselves as they discover these analyses, poems, and the memoir. As the international situations of the COVID pandemic and the Russian war on Ukraine demonstrate, women’s writings about war and their experiences therewithin, are still pertinent in 2022. This number gives voice to women of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and we invite you to listen to what that have to say in regards to their own artistic expressions and necessary social changes for better gender balance in the public and private spheres.

Amy D. Wells

Université de Caen Normandie

19 July 2022


[1] Équipe de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la Grande-Bretagne, l’Irlande et l’Amérique du Nord, Université de Caen Normandie,

[2] UN Women, “UN Women surveys reveal that women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic”,, 23 July 2020,
Moira Wyton, “How Women Will Bear the Brunt of This Pandemic”,,19 Mar 2020,
Pallavi Gogoi, “Stuck-At-Home Moms: The Pandemic’s Devastating Toll On Women”,, 28 October, 2020,

[3] UN Women, “COVID-19 and its economic toll on women: The story behind the numbers”,, 16 september 2020,

[4] Ionela Ciolan, “Putin’s war on Ukrainian women”,, 8 March 2022,




Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec
Women Writing World War I in Poetry: The Long Angle Towards Peace

Jen Shelton
Mary Borden: Women’s Work and War Writing

Angelika Schober
Ecrire la guerre au féminin ? Edith Stein et la Première Guerre mondiale

Anne Mounic
Continuité pastorale contre rupture tragique : ‘Voyage indiscret’ et ‘La Mouche’ de Katherine Mansfield.

Amy D. Wells
Between Myth and Memoir: American Female Soldiers’ Writing of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars


Thérèse Touzeau-Lemarchand, translated by Amy Wells
‘Mon Histoire du débarquement’


Sarah Montin
Poems of War: Mary Borden, Edith Sitwell, Eavan Boland

Anne Mounic
« Voyage indiscret » (« An Indiscreet Journey, » May 1915) et

« La Mouche » (« The Fly ») de Katherine Mansfield

Aude Pivin
« Le douzième jour » et « Feu » de Rosanna Warren.


Clementine Tholas
Film Review: Fearing empowered Womanhood during World War One? Love and Duty (1916) and A.W.O.L. (1919)

Emilie Cheyroux
Film Review: Women Leaders in War Movies: Zero Dark Thirty, Sicario, and gender boundaries

Migrant from green fields: Wilfred Owen in France


England one by one had fled to France, 
Not many elsewhere now, save under France 
“Smile, Smile, Smile”, ll. 21-3

Wilfred Owen could not anticipate that he too would be among the many who, having “fled” their country to go to war, would find their last resting place under France. Thus he lies in the cemetery at Ors (French commune graced by the construction of the Maison Forestière Owen in 2011), eternally exiled in “some corner of a foreign field”. The 2018 conference “Wilfred Owen and/in France”, organized at the university of Valenciennes with Brigitte Friant-Kessler and in conjunction with the Oxford Center for Life-Writing, wished to celebrate Owen’s French trajectory by offering both a centennial commemoration of his life and a reconsideration of the role France had on his growth as a man and as a poet. 

Already familiar with Brittany through childhood trips with his father, Owen arrived in Bordeaux with “good schoolroom French” (Kerr, 258) in 1913 to teach English at the Berlitz school. From there, he explored the south of France and stayed notably in Bagnères-de-Bigorre in the Pyrenees, only to return in January 1917, this time to northern France and the Somme battlefields. Owen had thus first-hand emotional, linguistic and artistic knowledge of France, something most of his fellow war poets lacked, Sassoon and Graves included. Owen’s undeniable French connections have however never been studied extensively before, outside of punctual references to symbolist and decadent literary influences in his canonical scholarship. This anniversary issue aims to highlight whatever “Frenchness” animated “Monsieur Owen” and if and how this influenced his career as a poet. It also attempts to compensate the relative dearth of French scholarship on Wilfred Owen who, despite being officially memorialized and inscribed in France’s national “Chemins de la mémoire”, has garnered rather scant academic scrutiny and  public recognition over the years to the point where one could say he has not yet been properly received in France. 

This issue of The War and Peace Review thus aims to reconsider the links between Wilfred Owen and France and, conversely, between France and Wilfred Owen. What did France represent to a young Georgian poet who ― unlike his modernist counterparts  quick to adopt France as their literary homeland ― was not enamored with French literature and fought, above all, “to perpetuate the language in which Keats and the rest of them wrote” (CL, 300)? What recognition and posterity does he have in France? Can one speak of a French Owen as there is a French Joyce and even a French Eliot and if not, why? 

The first section of this issue attempts to map the contours of France’s influence over Owen’s poetic trajectory and the maturation of his form and style. Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec’s paper ventures into overlooked sources in her study of Laurent Tailhade’s influence on Owen’s budding poetic vocation, as well as the young poet’s exposure to Francophone novelists and poets such as Barbusse, Duhamel, Péguy, Verhaeren, Flaubert, Mallarmé, Apollinaire and Hugo. Through an extensive analysis of “Spring Offensive”, Laure-Hélène Anthony Gerroldt studies Owen’s representations of the French landscape, perpetually caught in a dialogue with the poet’s British heritage. This paper is completed by Thomas Vuong’s own analysis of Owen’s ambivalent Franco-British imaginary, qualifying the importance of French influence in his work through a study of his landscapes, his use of French words and his sonnet rhyming schemes. Finally, Jérome Hennebert’s paper examines how Wilfred Owen’s lyricism became “objective” partly under Keats’s aegis and that of the 19th century symbolist poets Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine, decentering the lyric subject in a manner which announces the modernist movement. 

 A second section focuses on Owen’s reception in France. What exactly is Owen’s critical and popular posterity in France, and by whom is he read? Sarah Montin’s paper explores the ambiguities of the poet’s reception in France, from the 1920’s to 2020, through the lens of academic and intellectual criticism, creative appropriation and translation. The following papers act as companion pieces, giving a voice to two important “passeurs” of Wilfred Owen in France; poet, translator and publisher Emmanuel Malherbet and Belgian novelist and translator Xavier Hanotte

The third section covers biographical questions, allowing for fresh insights into Owen’s formative years in France. Gilles Couderc’s in-depth exploration of his time in Bordeaux and the Pyrenees between 1913 and 1915 sheds new light on understudied parts of Owen’s poems, language, life and correspondence while Roland Bouyssou’s paper offers a broader overview of the poet’s trajectory in France. Paul Elsam’s aural-accentual study opens new lines of inquiry such as the manner in which speaking French shaped not only Owen’s personality but also the manner in which he spoke. Finally, Neil McLennan’s paper discusses Owenian aspects of the “Auld Alliance”, offering an analysis of Owen’s Franco-Scottish influences and Owen’s little-discussed meetings with Albertina Marie Dauthieu, a Frenchwoman living in Scotland, whose interactions with Owen provide new glimpses into his life.              

To conclude, the fourth section of this issue is meant to be read as a tribute, an artistic homage to Wilfred Owen with poems by Damian Grant and the first pages of Paul Elsam’s screenplay Wilfred in Love (2018). This is completed by an assortment of translations by Emmanuel Malherbet, Roland Bouyssou and Sarah Montin, from variations on classics such as “Anthem for Doomed Youth” to other less famous poems, as yet untranslated into French. 

Edited by Elise Brault-Dreux & Sarah Montin



Jennifer Kilgore-Caradec
The French Poetry of Wilfred Owen’s Modernism

Laure-Hélène Anthony-Gerroldt
Over “the last hill” : Wilfred Owen’s “Spring Offensive

Thomas Vuong
“England one by one had fled to France”: French and British imaginaries in Wilfred Owen’s poems

Jérôme Hennebert
Dire la compassion: le lyrisme de Wilfred Owen


Sarah Montin
“Journey from obscurity?”: Wilfred Owen’s reception and posterity in France

Emmanuel Malherbet, poet and translator of Owen
« Donner un sens aux brimborions » (propos recueillis par Sarah Montin)

Xavier Hanotte, poet and translator of Owen
Wilfred Owen ou la parole survivante


Gilles Couderc
Monsieur Owen en Aquitaine

Roland Bouyssou
Wilfred Owen: A War Poet’s Progress in France

Paul Elsam
“Mending my Speech”: How France helped Owen Reinvent Himself

Neil McLennan
“La Fleur et le chardon”: Wilfred Owen’s Franco-Scottish influences


Damian Grant
Poems: “Wilfred Owen at Ors

Paul Elsam
From the screenplay Wilfred in Love (2018)

Emmanuel Malherbet
« À la jeunesse sacrifiée, une prière », « Conscience », « Inspection », « Les Appels » (poèmes traduits)

Roland Bouyssou
« Hymne pour une jeunesse au funeste destin », « Étrange rencontre », « Fête des adieux » (poèmes traduits)

Sarah Montin
« Les Aliénés » (poème traduit)