Now that my main character has just stepped ashore in England (on the 28th November, 1917) I have switched my research to find out more about the last year of the war. Along the way I have met more heroic women. I am only a third of the way through Women on the Warpath by David Mitchell but within the pages of this book I have already met some wonderful, inspiring women:
The indefatigable Pankhursts who took on Womens Suffrage (of course), the Huns and the Bolsheviks, particularly Sylvia who worked tirelessly for poverty stricken women in the East End of London, among many other good works. Lady Muriel Paget who formed a hospital unit that was sent to Russia. Lady Leila Paget who organised a hospital unit in Serbia and liaissed with the Bulgarians to open an emergency clinic in Skopje.
Sarah Macnaughton who set up a soup kitchen at Furnes in Flanders and Mrs. St Clair Stobart who was the leader of a coloumn through the terrible Serbian Death March of late 1915.
One of my aims in writing The Grey Silk Purse is to highlight what it was like during WWI for women with a driving need to help others. It was a time when women really made a difference. Opportunities arose because of the war and the shortage of men, and these amazing woman and thousands more grabbed life with both hands and achieved startling results.