Doves of War: Four Women of Spain
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Much has been written about the Spanish Civil War's effects on Spain and its citizens, but little attention has been paid to the women involved in the conflict. In this beautifully written biographical work, Paul Preston tells the forgotten war stories of four exceptional women whose lives were starkly altered by the war.
The portraits in this provocative, yet objective volume mirror the war itself, with the left pitted against the right. On the left side are Margarita Neken, the revolutionary feminist, writer, and politician; and Nan Green, the communist nurse who left her children behind in England to fight against fascism alongside her husband in the International Brigades. On the right side are Mercedes Sanz Bachiller, the most powerful woman in the Francoist zone; and Priscilla Scott-Ellis, the wealthy English socialite who, lured to Spain by love, stayed on to help the fascist war effort as a nurse on the front lines.
earlier. The surge of relief that she felt on managing to find out, on 12 February, that Santiago was still alive would live with her for the rest of her life. It would always be linked in her mind with a touching encounter that took place shortly afterwards. Her friend, the great cellist Pau Casals who was forming a relief organisation for the refugees, visited the Consulate. Even as they embraced, his first words were ‘And what of your son? Did he get out?’ It was a glimmer of humanity that
witness without distress the most hair-raising wounds being treated.59 There were now two parallel strands in her life. One was training to be a nurse at the front and the other was her deepening passion for Touffles. When he returned to Sanlúcar and telephoned to invite her over, she skipped her classes to go and see him, ‘hopping with life and merriment’. When she got back to the Orléans household, her happiness knew no bounds. The life of the well-to-do in the Nationalist zone had no
constituted an opportunity for him to break free from his family and from the asphyxiating atmosphere of the Spanish aristocracy.174 Lord Howard de Walden was appalled by his son-in-law’s ready admission that he was a gold-digger. He altered his will to prevent Pip, now twenty-nine, getting access to her money before she was forty.175 José Luis claims that, during a ball given at Dean Castle, while Pip was asleep on a sofa elsewhere, he passed a night of passion with Lady Audrey Fairfax, the
destination. The so-called ‘English Hospital’ was at Huete, in the province of Cuenca, approximately midway between Valencia and Madrid. It was in a twelfth-century monastery whose metre-thick walls surrounded an inner courtyard dominated by a large chapel. Once a seminary, its many rooms had been converted to wards for the wounded. Nan’s post was to be assistant secretary in this hospital mainly staffed by Spanish, British and New Zealand personnel. To her amazement and joy, there she
street fights with the predominantly Socialist working class of Valladolid: ‘On the outskirts of the Puente Mayor (across the River Pisuerga) bulls’ pizzles were bought in order to assert our permanent faith in violence.’ The JCAH’s meetings were held in virtual clandestinity and, as they could afford to do so, they began to buy pistols. Over time, Onésimo Redondo’s advocacy of violence would become even more strident. Given the numerical weakness of the JCAH, Onésimo was also quick to seek