Selected Women’s Autobiographies on the First World War

Women’s Autobiographies


The linked titles of the autobiographies are connected to an entry in GWonline that provides you with an abstract and additional information.


Vera Mary Brittain (1893–1970) was an English Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse during World War I as well as a writer, feminist, socialist, and pacifist. Her best-selling 1933 memoir, Testament of Youth, recounts her experiences during the First World War and the beginning of her journey towards pacifism. Abandoning her studies at Oxford in 1915 to enlist as a nurse in the armed services, Brittain served in London, Malta, and on the Western Front. By war's end she had lost virtually everyone she loved. Testament of Youth is both a record of what she lived through and an elegy for a vanished generation.

Wikipedia site on: Very Brittain


Known for her evocative poetry written during and about World War I, May Wedderburn Cannan’s (1893–1973) autobiography recounting her experience of the war is less well known, but an invaluable work, not only for the firsthand historical insights she provides on life for auxiliaries as well as soldiers in the canteen where she volunteered in Rouen, for example, but also as a voice for women in the war as a whole. She trained as a nurse, worked in the propaganda office in Britain, and was recruited to espionage in Paris.

Text Online : Internet Archive

Wikipedia site on: May Wedderburn Cannan


Addie Waites Hunton (1875-1943) advocated for the rights of African Americans during the first half of the twentieth century. Her biography of her husband, William Alphaeus Hunton, an executive for the YMCA and the first black secretary of the international committee of that organization, was published in 1938. After her husband's death in 1916, Hunton became involved in the YMCA's work abroad serving black troops during World War I. This is her memoir of these experiences, written with her co-worker Kathryn Johnson, and first published in 1920.

Text Online : Internet Archive

Wikipedia site on: Addie Waites Hunton


Flora Sandes (1876-1958) was the first and only British woman to serve as a soldier in World War I. She first volunteered as an ambulance driver, eventually made her way to the Kingdom of Serbia, and there enrolled as a soldier. She ultimately earned seven medals and the rank of Captain. Her autobiography detailing her extraordinary, pioneering experiences is a must-read for anyone studying gendered experiences in World War I.

Text Online : Internet Archive

Wikipedia site on: Flora Sandes