Mary Borden, the daughter of a Chicago millionaire, was born May 15,1886. She left home as soon as she was of age and traveled to India where she married a Scottish missionary and had two daughters. (This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy, Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year, available wherever eBooks are sold.)
In 1913, she moved to London and began associating with writers and poets. A third daughter was born a year later. She also joined the suffragist movement.
World War I
Borden used her own money to pay for and supply a mobile hospital for the French Army. She also worked as a nurse in the hospital starting in 1915, earning several medals for her bravery.
“It was my business to sort out the wounded as they were brought in from the ambulances and to keep them from dying before they got to the operating rooms: it was my business to sort out the nearly dying from the dying,” Borden says in her short story Blind. “I was there to sort them out and tell how fast life was ebbing in them.”
During the war, Borden met her second husband. When her first husband discovered the affair, he took custody of the children and a messy divorce followed.
Borden’s experiences during the war were the inspiration for several stories, although she did not publish any of them until a decade later. Her novel, The Forbidden Zone, was a memoir.
According to Amazon, the book deserves “to be read alongside the likes of Sassoon, Graves, and Remarque, [and] is a collection of her memories and impressions of that experience. Describing the men as they march into battle, engaging imaginatively with the stories of individual soldiers, and recounting procedures at the field hospital, the author offers a perspective on the war that is both powerful and intimate.”
Borden died December 2, 1968.
Updated: 23 October 2020