Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Dr Isabella Stenhouse: 130 years young

Twenty-nine year old Dr Isabella Stenhouse may have been one of the first women doctors ever to have been employed by the British Army but, in the last few years, she's had a new career.

It began when she was selected for BBC Antiques Roadshow's WW1 Special. Her appearance on 6th April 2014 was followed by articles in the local and national press and on August 4th 2014, the centenary of the start of the First World War,  she was featured in the Daily Telegraph.

Modern medical women commissioned an article about her; Beyond the Trenches wanted to know more; and on July 1st 1916, the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, Oxford University's Continuations and Beginnings decided to publish an article highlighting the significance for professional women of the army's decision to employ women doctors.

As Isabella's granddaughter, it became my job to write up her story. The Mystery of Isabella and the String of Beads was published in July last year, on the centenary of the date when she signed up with the army.

Family historians were intrigued and asked me about the hows and whys of uncovering Isabella's story.

Reviews came from the USA, Canada, Australia and more.

Belona Greenwood of Words and Women asked why I had written the book as creative nonfiction rather than a more formal biography. The Alliance of Independent Authors wanted to know about creative nonfiction in general. Jane Davis interviewed me for her Virtual Bookclub. So did Great War 100 Reads.

My life has been altered by Isabella's new career - my grandmother is living again. 

So here's to Dr Isabella Stenhouse, Granny,

Happy 130 years young,

Happy birthday this month.

The Mystery of Isabella and the String of Beads is available on Amazon and from all good bookshops.

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