Orford Books

The Good Straight Englishwoman

Home Stephen Potter at the BBC The Good Straight Englishwoman The Merchant of Naples
Orford Books logo

The Good Straight Englishwoman cover

With contemporary photographs and illustrations

180 pages hardback ISBN 0 954 66531 7 RRP £16.00

Available now, The Good Straight Englishwoman. An extraordinary life providing new insight into nursing and midwifery in the early twentieth century...

Clare Hedley-Peek's grandfather - a pioneer of homeopathic medicine in Victorian London and the preferred doctor of Benjamin Disraeli - was willing to fund her chosen training in child care and midwifery at the best institutions of the day. For the next few years discipline and dedication saw her and her lifelong partner, Winifred Morris, through maternity and child care work in the slum areas of South London.

In the Great War she worked on a hospital barge in northern France and then in a surgical ambulance team receiving battle casualties from the final German offensive. After the war, her skills and independence drew her back to France where she first cared for mothers and babies in some of the worst war-torn areas and then ran a small but highly successful hospital in Provence for children with bone disease.

This remarkable story of one woman's independence and determination has been pieced together from limited sources, as before fleeing France in a coal boat in 1940 she burnt her letters and diaries. Amanda Davies has researched a wide range of background sources, enabling her to set Clare's life in its social, historical and family context.

‘Amanda Davies has a passion for research, a good eye for detail, and a gift for storytelling. This account of her little-known but remarkable great-aunt is of genuine historical interest and well worth reading.’ Michael Holroyd

‘A sensitively told story of two women whose lives mirrored the tragedy of the First World War and the challenges of the difficult inter-war years … an engaging account which gradually through the prism of these two lives recalls the experience of a wider society.’ Shirley Williams

‘All credit to Amanda Davies for a vivid and highly readable account of this courageous, caring, unconventional, creative and successful nurse who used her skills to help military and civilian patients in England and France survive two World Wars and the life-limiting effects of severe poverty and disability.’ Sylvia Denton FRCN, President, Royal College of Nursing

Read more about the book and its author

The Good Straight Englishwoman was published in September 2005 and can be ordered at bookshops. Alternatively, you can order your copy of The Good Straight Englishwoman now, direct from Orford Books - see the following link.