Daisy Cowper (1890 – 1985): War, Memory & Life Writing

Daisy makes little to no mention of either World War I or World War II, though this is likely to be due to her focusing her autobiography on the years spanning her birth until 1916, therefore only covering a two year period of The Great War. It is also possible with her memoir being aimed at her family members that she wished to omit the war as a considerably negative force in her life, hoping to perhaps preserve the happier memories of her family and her own life. Likewise, she dwells little on death and illness of family and friends.

Daisy does, however, make some reference to the Boer War – most likely the 1899 – 1902 war as this occurred during her lifetime – and recalls how every morning she would memorise the headline placard of the local newsagents to tell her family of the news events, even wearing badges of the war’s “heroes”, such as Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts. It is unusual, though not surprising for a child as young as Daisy to have been to be interested in the Boer war, as British wars abroad were considered to be something of a serious national concern. This, tied in with the patriotic feeling of the time which bordered on jingoism meant that the Boer war would likely have been a topic of discussion for some years during Daisy’s childhood, though it is evident by her idolism of the stories and men involved that media spin had it’s impact on the British public’s understanding of events in South Africa. The second Boer War was particularly controversial due to it’s use of concentration camps, and exploitation of black people as workers and soldiers, but it is unlikely Daisy or her family would have had negative information like this brought to their attention though the British media. (1)



Image from: ‘Wikimedia.org.’ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:6inch30cwtHowitzerSecondBoerWar.jpg 4th December 2007. Web. Accessed 30 December 2013.

(1) Professor Fransjohan Pretorius. ‘The Boer Wars.’ BBC.co.uk. 29 March 2011. Accessed 30 December 2013.


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