A Very Private Diary A Nurse in Wartime

by Mary Morris

Biography / Autobiography eBooks of the Month

A Very Private Diary A Nurse in Wartime Synopsis

'I always seem to be saying good-bye to men whom I might have loved had there been enough time...' 1939: 18-year-old trainee nurse Mary Mulry arrives in London from Ireland, hoping for adventure. Little did she know what the next seven years would bring. In her extraordinary diary, published now for the first time, Mary records in intimate detail her life as a nurse, both on the Home Front and on the frontline. From nursing children during bombing raids in London to treating Allied soldiers in Normandy, Mary's experiences gave her vivid and unforgettable material for the private diary she was dedicated to keeping. Filled with romance, glamour and inevitably sadness, too, these are the rich memories of an irrepressible personality, living through the turbulent years of the Second World War.

The Good Book Guide Review

Few private diaries survived the Second World War intact, but happily that of young nurse Mary Mulry did, its typescript now in London’s Imperial War Museum. Originally from Ireland, Mary was a vivacious girl who arrived in London aged eighteen, longing to broaden her horizons. Little can she have imagined what the war years would bring, one minute nursing children during a bombing raid, later helping Allied soldiers in Normandy in the aftermath of D-Day. Keeping a diary during active service was prohibited, but Mary enjoyed subverting expectations and her colourful diary, exuberant and romantic as well as poignant, offers an intriguing personal record of her wartime experience.

A Very Private Diary A Nurse in Wartime Press Reviews

'Mary Morris's absorbing diary is a tonic to so many outsized histories of the second World War by those who had not been there. ...In pithy, occasionally sardonic entries, Morris builds a picture of the pity of war and, above all, the moral and material ruins of post-Hitler Germany, where she danced the nights away in Allied officers clubs but also got to know the stench of diphtheria ( so foul and sickly ) and gangrene. The scenes of horror and distress she recorded are leavened by childhood reminiscences of the Connemara coast and the glories of whiskey fruit cake.' -- Ian Thomson THE IRISH TIMES


'Keeping a diary during active service was forbidden, so this book offers a rare insight into the important roles of nurses, both on the Home Front and the frontline during the Second World War from their own viewpoint.' -- Verity Rogers WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE


'Diaries transport us back to the events they describe with a vividness other sources cannot match. This diary, recently discovered in the archives of the Imperial War Museum, was kept by Irish nurse Mary Morris to record her experiences during and after the Second World War. Her strength of character and spirit shine through. ...day and night she faced the grim experience of nursing battle casualties. The constant hunger from insufficient rations, catching diphtheria, and being injured by shrapnel failed to daunt her.' -- John Adams NURSING STANDARD

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781780227382
Publication date: 29/01/2015
Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780297871552
Publication date: 12/06/2014
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781780227382
Publication date: 29th January 2015
Author: Mary Morris
Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Genres: Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites,
Categories: Memoirs, Nursing, Social & cultural history, Diaries, letters & journals,

About Mary Morris

Mary Morris (nee Mulry) was born in County Galway in 1921. After completing her nursing training in London from 1939, she joined the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Service Reserve in 1944. She married Captain Malcolm Morris in London in 1946, and they settled in Britain after the war. Mary later returned to nursing and never stopped writing. She died in 1997, and is survived by four children and eight grandchildren. Carol Acton is Associate Professor of English, St Jerome's University at the University of Waterloo, Ontario specialising in war writing, especially autobiographical works. She discovered Mary's diaries in the Imperial War Museum archives.

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