La Revue des marraines (1916–17): A Journal for War Godmothers and their Godchildren

  • Marysa Demoor Ghent University
  • Birgit Van Puymbroeck Ghent University
  • Marianne Van Remoortel Ghent University


This article is situated at the crossroads of First World War and periodical studies. It sheds light on the phenomenon of ‘war godmothers’ [‘marraines’], women who supported soldiers at the front by sending them parcels and letters. The so-called godmothers made use of the mainstream press to advertise their services, and founded periodicals of their own. In this article, we examine the representation of war godmothers in the periodical press and uncover La Revue des marraines, a handwritten journal created by the Melles Picard in Paris. The analysis addresses the little-known phenomenon of the war godmothers, the relation between godmother and godson, and changing gender roles. It further questions the importance of handwritten journals during the war, when paper and other means were scarce.

Author Biographies

Marysa Demoor, Ghent University

Marysa Demoor is Professor of English Literature at Ghent University and a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. In 2011, she was also the holder of the Van Dyck Chair at UCLA. She is the author of Their Fair Share: Women, Power, and Criticism in the Athenaeum, from Millicent Garrett Fawcett to Katherine Mansfield, 1870–1920 (Ashgate, 2000) and the editor of Marketing the Author: Authorial Personae, Narrative Selves, and Self-Fashioning, 1880–1930 (Palgrave, 2004). With Laurel Brake, she edited The Lure of Illustration in the Nineteenth Century: Picture and Press (Palgrave, 2009) and the Dictionary of Nineteenth-Century Journalism (British Library and Academia Press, 2009). Her current research focuses on the cross-fertilization between Northern Belgium and Britain during the long nineteenth century.

Birgit Van Puymbroeck, Ghent University

Birgit Van Puymbroeck is Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) at Ghent University. Her research interests include modernism, networks, periodicals, and sound/radio. She has published on modernist authors, ‘little’ magazines, and Anglo-French relations in PMLA; Modern Language Review; English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920; and Neophilologus. She is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies, and is currently working on a book, provisionally titled Networking Modernism.

Marianne Van Remoortel, Ghent University

Marianne Van Remoortel is Assistant Professor at the Department of Literary Studies, Ghent University. She is the author of Lives of the Sonnet, 1787–1895: Genre, Gender, and Criticism (Ashgate, 2011) and Women, Work, and the Victorian Periodical: Living by the Press (Palgrave, 2015; runner-up 2015 Robert and Vineta Colby Scholarly Book Prize). Her ERC Starting Grant project ‘Agents of Change: Women Editors and Socio-Cultural Transformation in Europe, 1710–1920’ takes her research on the periodical press into a new transnational collaborative direction.

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