War Classics: The Remarkable Memoir of Scottish Scholar Christina Keith on the Western Front


Christina Keith came from the small town of Thurso on the far north coast of Scotland. Highly intelligent and ambitious, she became a lecturer in Classics at a time when that was still a brave and unusual choice for a woman. Towards the end of the First World War she left behind the sheltered world of academia to live and work among soldiers of all social backgrounds as a lecturer with the army's education scheme in France. She writes with warmth and humour of her experiences. When she and a companion travel across the devastated battlefields just a short time after the guns have fallen silent, her descriptions are both evocative and moving. "The eye lighted gratefully on a few irregular crosses in little groups together... the one normal thing in this strange world. It was as if weary with looking on earth that was no earth, on grass that was blasted beyond recognition, on ruins that were uncanny in their desolation... on silence that was like the depths of a pit, weary of all this, one turned with thankfulness to the only thing that one could recognise, the only thing that was normal or peaceful here."

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