Chicago heiress, society beauty, mother of three and a rising literary novelist, Mary Borden left her glamorous lifestyle behind in 1915 to run a French Army hospital at the Western Front. In this talk Hazel Hutchinson uncovers the story of how this extraordinary woman found herself at war, and explores her hauntingly powerful book about the conflict, The Forbidden Zone.
Written largely at the Front, Borden’s eerie, humane and sometimes darkly comic account of her time in the war zone, was silenced by censorship regulations when she first tried to publish it in 1917. Eventually issued in 1929 to a public still reluctant to accept the full horrors of the war, The Forbidden Zone reveals the terrible ironies of nursing under military command, and tells a little-known story of American idealism and service in the early years of the war.
Hazel Hutchison is the President of the Henry James Society and the Director of the Centre for the Novel at the University of Aberdeen. Her latest book, The War That Used Up Words: American Writers in a European Conflict, 1914-1918, will be published by Yale University Press later this year.
This talk is part of the events programme for the Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour exhibition.