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May Wedderburn Cannan (1893–1973)

Author of The Tears of War: The Love Story of a Young Poet and a War Hero

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May Wedderburn Cannan was born in Oxford, England to a literary family. Her father Charles Cannan, Dean of Trinity College, ran Oxford University Press for many years. Her younger sister Joanna Cannan became a well-known writer and her cousin Gilbert Cannan was a novelist-playwright. May began writing as a child and published her first poem in 1908 in The Scotsman. With her sister, she was educated at home and at the Wychwood School. During World War I, May served as a volunteer nurse in France and also worked for a short period for the British intelligence service. She published a book of poems about the war, In War Time (1917), followed by The Splendid Days (1919) and The House of Hope (1923). She was engaged to marry Bevil Quiller-Couch, a British army officer; he survived the fighting, but died in the great influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. In 1924, she married -- on slight acquaintance -- Captain Percival James Slater, with whom she had a son. She did not publish further poetry after the 1920s. The first volume of her memoirs, The Lonely Generation, was published in 1934. The second volume, Grey Ghosts and Voices (1976) appeared after her death. Unpublished poems from her handwritten notebook appeared for the first time in The Tears of War: The Love Story of a Young Poet and a War Hero (2000), edited by her great-niece Charlotte Popescu Fyfe.
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