Poems Without Frontiers

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Winifred Holtby 1898- 1935

Winifred was born in Rudston, Yorkshire to a prosperous farming family. She was educated at Queen Margaret's School, Scarborough and passed the entrance examination for Somerville College, Oxford, but she volunteered for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and was posted to France which delayed commencement of her studies until 1919 after her return.

She formed a lasting friendship with Vera Brittain with whom she became an ardent feminist, socialist and pacifist with a strong interest in black workers in South Africa. They shared accommodation until her death even after Vera had married and borne two children.

Winifred remained single, however, and devoted her life as an industrious journalist to writing many articles that were published extensively in newspapers and magazines. In the decade from the mid-nineteen twenties, she became critical of the transition from the euphoria following the First World War to the right wing politics of the nineteen thirties. She also wrote poetry and fourteen books including six novels, and is now most known for her posthumously published last novel, South Riding.

She died of Brights disease and was interred near her birthplace. The Winifred Holtby Memorial Library in Soweto, Johannesburg, was formed from the legacy of her books and as a dedication to her work.