Found – in an old poetry book

A few years ago I was rummaging for books at the Southbank book market (London). I found a little hardback book with a grey landscape cover, not the kind that stands out at all, so naturally the kind I love – all understated and mysterious. ‘Poems of To-Day: an Anthology’, published 1915. It is full of beautiful and interesting poems, and the book looks well-loved. But the reason I bought it was for the handwritten annotation and verse inside the front and back covers.

The first inlay page has the handwritten name and address of the author, Private D McMaster of 37th Battalion.

The second page (pictured above) is handwritten verse, I presume it is by D McMaster. The next page reads ‘My Mother’ and her address in Cookstown, Ontario. Then the back insert page contains another page of verse (pictured below). I’ve been doing a little research to find out more, I think he was in the Canadian Expeditionary Force sometime between 1914 – 1919 (World War One). He may have been Private David McMaster (408614) although this is unconfirmed.

I found this book/inscriptions captivating, so thought I would share, also – incase anyone researches this subject, they may be able to offer some clues, or fill in their own gaps.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Found – in an old poetry book

  1. That’s quite a find! It’s funny how a hand-written note is so much more ‘real’ than typed words, like you can almost feel the person sitting there writing it. History from a text book just isn’t as tangible as a scrawled note from somebody who was actually there.

  2. Books are really magical, but finding something as quaint and delightful as old poetry – really magical! Found this from Twitter, waving hello!

  3. Jan

    This is fascinating.
    My grandad was in the 37th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force.
    I have just received his war papers from the Canadian Archives and found out he was shot going `over the top` in a charge and luckily survived. I wonder if he wrote things like this and wonder where they are now?
    What a lovely book to have in your posession.

    • Thanks for your response and for sharing your story. Though unconnected to anyone involved I’m still wondering the same kinds of things as you are. I hoped that people would find my blog post when researching relatives and be able to read these handwritten pages for themselves, perhaps putting together pieces of the jigsaw – I’m so pleased you found it. I’d quite like to return this book to the family of the man who wrote the verse, if they are ever researching online & will keep it safe meanwhile. It’s rare that I will buy a new book as they come without the history of a previous owner, this one is quite a treasure! – Heidi

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