Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Mary Borden

Mary Borden, known to her family as May, lived between 1886 and 1968, and was an Anglo-American novelist.

NPG Ax136090; Mary Borden, Lady Spears by Howard Coster

by Howard Coster, vintage bromide print, 1931

Born into a wealthy family in Chicago, Mary attended Vassar College, graduating in 1907 with a Bachelors Degree.  Whilst on a tour of the Far East, she met and married the Scottish missionary George Douglas Turner, and the couple had three daughters – Joyce, Comfort, and Mary – between 1909 and 1914.

After the move back to England, Mary joined the Suffrage movement, and spent five days in a police cell for throwing a stone through the window of Her Majesty’s Treasury.  At the outbreak of the First World War, Mary used a considerable amount of her own money to staff and equip a field hospital close to the Front, serving there as a nurse from 1915.  She met her second husband, Brigadier General Spears here.  She used her wartime experience to fuel many short stories and novels.  Her poems were slow to be recognised.

“This is the song of the mud,
The pale yellow glistening mud that covers the hills like satin;
The grey gleaming silvery mud that is spread like enamel over the valleys;
The frothing, squirting, spurting, liquid mud that gurgles along the road beds;
The thick elastic mud that is kneaded and pounded and squeezed under the hoofs of the horses;
The invincible, inexhaustible mud of the war zone.”
(From ‘At the Somme: The Song of the Mud’)


  • Three Pilgrims and a Tinker (1924)
  • Flamingo (1927)
  • Four O’clock (1927)
  • The Forbidden Zone (1929)
  • Jehovah’s Day (1929)
  • A Woman with White Eyes (1930)
  • Sarah Gay (1931)
  • Action for Slander (1937)
  • Journey Down a Blind Alley (1946)
  • You, the Jury (1952)
  • Poems of Love and War (2015)

– An interesting, fuller biography of Mary Borden can be found here.
– One of her drawings, and another of her poems, can be found at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum.
– A wonderful review of The Forbidden Zone can be found via dovegreyreader’s blog.


One thought on “Neglected Women Writers’ Month: Mary Borden

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s