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THE ONLY ENGLISH WOMAN SOLDIER
LAWRENCE, Dorothy. Sapper Dorothy Lawrence.The Only English Woman Soldier. Late Royal Engineers, 51st Division, 79th Tunnelling Company B.E.F London, John Lane, The Bodley Head 1919. Octavo, bound in original green cloth boards, black lettering to front board and spine, front board blind embossed with field guns at the head, top edge with traces of green stain. Frontis portrait of Lawrence and four other portraits. A little rubbed, mild damp staining to lower board, some foxing to the first and last few leaves and fore edge. One corner bumped but unbroken. First Edition. An uncommon book. Dorothy Lawrence wanted to be a war correspondent, but was refused all such work by newspaper editors because of the danger of the work and a military veto on civilians at the front. Refused a front line posting as a VAD because she was too young, she managed to get hold of a uniform, "bound her chest, and padded her back with sacking and cotton.... managed to persuade two Scottish military policemen to cut her hair and then dyed her skin using a diluted furniture polish to give it a bronzed hue." After obtaining false identification as Pte. Denis Smith of the 1st Leicestershire Regt., and with a genuine identification disc and forged pass ( which she wrote herself) and a safe- conduct pass from the Mayor, she cycled to the front line at Bethune and eventually arrived in Albert. With help from a sapper named Tom Dunn, she managed to become attached to the BEF tunnelling company, who were digging tunnels and laying mines within 400 yards of the front line. After 10 days however, the worry and discomfort became too much and she requested an interview with her Commanding Officer and revealed her true gender to him. She was placed under military arrest and hauled from the trenches, leaving the army very embarrassed with the serious breach of security she had revealed. On her return to England, she had a chance encounter with Emmeline Pankhurst who offered her an opportunity to lecture on her experiences. Lawrence had to refuse because of War Office strictures against her revealing her story. In 1925, she was living alone in North London when her erratic behaviour began to attract attention . She made an accusation of childhood rape against her Church guardian and was committed to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum where she resided until her death in 1964. A tragic end for such a brave and adventurous woman.
      [Bookseller: John Underwood Antiquarian Books]
Last Found On: 2018-02-01           Check availability:      PBFA    

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