The Queen’s Book

The Queen’s Gift Book – for soldiers and sailors who have lost their limbs in the war

The Queen’s Gift Book, a collection of stories and poems by some of the most famous writers of the day,
was published in 1915 to raise money for hospitals for soldiers and sailors
who had lost their limbs in the war. Some of the best known contributors included Arthur Conan Doyle
(author of Sherlock Holmes), J.M.Barrie (author of
Peter Pan), Joseph Conrad (author of The Heart of Darkness and John Buchan (author of The Thirty Nine Steps), together with many writers well known in
their day but no longer read today.

The book includes writing in a range of genres, from comedy to sentiment, most with little relationship to the war.
The excepts chosen here are those which do relate to the war, showing some of the ways in which the war was represented.
It’s a revealing collection, as in 1915 the general public was still expecting the war to come to an end relatively quickly.


The frontispiece to the book, including a portrait of Queen Mary.

View the illustration

The Heroic Age

An illustration to an essay by Joseph Conrad comparing the British Navy of the First World War with Nelson at Trafalgar.

View the illustration

Victory Day – an anticipation, John Oxenham

A poem predicting victory for the British troops by novelist and poet John Oxenham. The poem and picture recalls the legend
of ‘The Angels of Mons’, in which British soldiers claimed to have been led to victory at Mons by Saint George and British
soldiers who had fallen during the Hundred Years War. The legend of the angels was widely believed in Britain during the war,
with the effect of bolstering morale and ‘confirming’ the justice of the British cause.

Read page one

Read page two

Read page three

‘Woman’, by Hall Caine

A poem by best-selling novelist of the 1890s, Hall Caine. It’s interesting to compare this image of woman with the
portrait of Queen Mary, in the front of the book

Read the poem

View the illustration

‘ “He Comes!” In memoriam Roberts, F.M.’, Maud Driver

A poem in memory of Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar, Commander-in-Chief of the British army. He served 41 years in the Indian
army, including during the Indian Mutiny. He was then transferred to lead the British army in South Africa during the Boer Wars.
Lord Roberts died visiting the Indian troops at the Front.
British propaganda of the time frequently stresses the loyalty of the Indian troops
to the British army, partly as a result of the German propaganda which aimed to convince Indian soldiers to defect to the Germans.
German propaganda argued that since many Indian soldiers were Muslim (this was before the Partition of India and Pakistan), and the (Muslim) Turks were fighting with Germany, Indians ought
not to fight against fellow Muslims.
Find out more about Lord Roberts.

Read the poem

‘Will you take over his horse, sir?’, Sapper

A short story by ‘Sapper’, an army officer who later went on to become one of the most successful fiction writers of the 1920s.
There’s a strong contrast between this short story, written from the trenches, and the series that made ‘Sapper’s name – the adventures
of a hero named Bulldog Drummond, an ex-army officer who finds life after the war dull and unfulfilling.

Read page one

Read pages two and three