Lady Mary Borden


Lady Mary Borden

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 2 Dec 1968 (aged 82)
Warfield, Bracknell Forest Borough, Berkshire, England
Burial Warfield, Bracknell Forest Borough, Berkshire, England
Memorial ID 164497711 View Source
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Poet. She is remembered as a poet who wrote about World War I from the beginning until Armistice Day, November 11, 1918. She was not only a poet, but an heiress, suffragette, and nurse. During World War I, she coerced the French Army to permit her to operate a field hospital close to the front lines of battle; they did and the hospital treated 25,000 patients in the first six weeks. At the time, she was married, had relocated from the United States to England and the mother of three daughters with the last born in November 1914. With her husband enlisting, she wished to serve as well. Being a progressive woman, she wanted the right to vote and was an active member of Women's Social and Political Union. It was in 1916 at the hospital she had a chance meeting of a British Officer, Brigadier General Louis Spears, and the couple fell in love. Later, she wrote him love poems. As an act of jealous revenge, someone sent the poems to her husband; a divorced followed, and for a time she lost the custody of her children. Born the second child of three to a very successful Colorado silver miner, she was called “May.” She earned a Bachelor's of Art Degree from Vassar College in New York in 1907. First using the pen name of “Bridget MacLagan”, she wrote “The Mistress of Kingdom; or Smoking Flax” in 1912, “Collision” in 1913, and “Romantic Woman” in 1916. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre and made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor for her wartime service. After World War I, she continued to write using her own name for at least a dozen books. In 1929 she published “The Forbidden Zone,” which had stories and poems of her wartime experiences. One of her novels, “Action by Slander,” was used for a film that was released in 1937 by London Film Productions after the first version was shelved as the results of the Catholic church censoring. With the end of World War II, she wrote “Journey Down a Blind Alley,” which was published in 1946. At the age of 70, she wrote her last book, “You, the Jury” in 1952. Edited by Professor Paul O'Prey, a book of her original love poems, “Poems of Love and War,” was published in 2015. Her poems have been compared to Walt Whitman's style of writing. Eventually on March 31, 1918 at the British Embassy in Paris, she did marry Spears, who became a Member of the British Parliament; she became “Lady Spears” and the couple had a son. When World War II started, she partly funded with her inheritance the Hadfield-Spears Ambulance Unit, which allowed her to travel as a nurse during the war to France, North Africa, and the Middle East. Traveling back to the United States, she wrote campaign speeches for her niece's husband, Adlai Stevenson, who was a candidate for the office of United States President during the early 1950s. She could be very bold and opinionated. As a guest in Albert Einstein's home, she debated him on the existence of God and other philosophical issues of life. Even in the last years of her life, she was a public figure who supported young writers and women's right. She died at home of heart failure. On the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in November of 2018, a light and sound production was held at the Tower of London, “Beyond the Deepening Shadow: The Tower Remembers,” which was composed based on Borden's poem, “Sonnets to a Soldier.” Author Jane Conway's “A Woman of Two Wars: The Life of Mary Borden,” gives more details on Borden's life. The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center in Boston, Massachusetts has a huge Borden collection including her diary and photographs from both wars.

Bio by: Linda Davis


In loving memory of
Chevalier of
the legion of honour
Croix de Guere 1914-1918
Order of Ommayed of
Syria & Cedar of Lebanon
15th May 1886-2nd Dec 1968
wife of Major General
Sir Edward Spears
Baronet KBE CB MC

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Marie Griffiths
  • Added: 11 Jun 2016
  • Find a Grave Memorial 164497711
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lady Mary Borden (15 May 1886–2 Dec 1968), Find a Grave Memorial ID 164497711, citing St Michael the Archangel Churchyard, Warfield, Bracknell Forest Borough, Berkshire, England ; Maintained by Find a Grave .