One of the questions I am frequently asked is, “What is a good read on the Scottish Womens’ Hospitals”
Without question, Leah Leneman’s book ” In The Service Of Life” is the most comprehensive ever to be assembled on the subject.
Published in Edinburgh, in 1994, it goes into enormous detail from the inception of the organisation in 1914 to its demise in the mid 1920’s
The book weaves a very clear and precise account of the tireless work of the SWH, the various hospital units joining the war on the Eastern and Western fronts in 1914-1919 and their journeys into Serbia, France, Greece, Russia, Romania and beyond, taking the reader to the battlefields ,the landscapes, and, the people, decimated by war.
A spotlight also gleans over many of the women’s personal stories as they demonstrated staggering feats of bravery in every situation and against all odds.
Just as many of these stoic women were a little “off-centre” and trailblazers, Leah Leneman was herself, something of a free spirit.
Leah was born in California in 1944. At a young age she developed an interest in the film industry. However, she began a career as an actress on stage in New York before moving to London to work for an airline.
She had a love of travel and also wrote a number of Vegan cook books. She visited Scotland , quickly fell in love with the country and moved to Edinburgh
where she achieved a degree in History at Edinburgh University. Leah then went on to write a string of books on Scottish history.
Leah Leneman was clearly a well rounded academic, but her style of writing appeals to everyone and allows the reader to follow the narrative with ease.
I would recommend the book ” In The Service Of Life” to anyone interested in the story of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. I would also recommend reading her book on ” Elsie Inglis” and “Scotland’s Suffragettes”
Leah died in 1999 and what a treasure to the nation she was.