Thanks to our friends at Wakefield Press, here is a sneak peek into Beyond the Stage – Creative Australian stories from the Great War – Edited by Anna Goldsworthy and Mark Carroll.
A not so trivial pursuit
Telsie Hague’s war Mark Carroll
Born in Angaston, South Australia, circa 1886, Myrtle Ellman (Telsie) Hague was the daughter of storekeeper and politician William Hague (1864-1924). At the age of 12, Hague won a prize for writing from the Australian Young Folks magazine, and appears to have moved to Adelaide during the First World War, probably to live with her father at Millswood. Until her premature death in 1925, she provided significant commentary on South Australian life, providing columns and stories to publications such as the Observer, the Returned Soldiers Association Magazine, the Evening Journal and the Bulletin, alongside several manuscripts. Hague’s best work appeared in the Evening Journal, in which she wrote columns under the by-line of ‘Myah’ and ‘the Business Girl’, offering snapshots of life on the home front. She was a keen observer of Australian society during and immediately after the war, and organised entertainments at the Mitcham army camp. As we shall see, Telsie Hague also revealed a prescient understanding of the war’s aftermath.
It is fair to say that no only does Hague deserve greater recognition, but that hers is a nuanced, textured and certainly gender-balanced account of life in South Australia at the time. A hundred years ago, in the midst of the cataclysm, Hague still found times to put things into perspective:
Derelicts: One sees them in the streets and squares, nearing the end of their existence, time worn, weather beaten, scarred by ceaseless contact with the rebuffs od life. Several of them are very familiar faces in the city. I passed two of them the other day, and in spite of the pity of it, marvelled at the blank expression of their faces, the absence of interest in outward happenings… They do not realise that there is a world war in progress. They met their storms years ago. They put up a fight and were conquered and are now drifting, heedless. They have been tossed and buffeted on the waves of time, and are now regardless of its passage. Life served them hard, so now they are oblivious of life… 1
1 Telsie Hague, ‘Derelicts’, Evening Journal (2 June 1917), p.12
To continue reading, head into your local bookstore or visit Wakefield Press to secure your own copy!