Saturday, 20 August 2016

Gabrielle M. Vassal (1880 - 1959) - writer and journalist

Gabrielle Maud Candler was born in Uppingham in the county of Rutland in England, her father Howard, was a schoolmaster from Islington, London who ran a boarding school in Uppingham.  He was born in 1848.  Her mother Edith Ellen, nee Tablor from Sutton Hall near Rochford in Essex, was born in 1846.  Gabrielle's siblings were Edward, Edith, Mary, Lucy, Alice, Walter, Arthur and Bertha.   By 1901, the family had moved to Hampstead in London by which time her elder brother Edward worked as a solicitor and Arthur as an articled clerk to an accountant.  Her youngest sister Bertha Nelly studied art.

Gabrielle married Joseph Marguerite Jean Vassal in Hampstead in 1903.  During the Napoleonic wars a Joseph Vassal was a prisoner of war.  Joseph was a French doctor.  Gabrielle travelled with her husband to his various postings as a doctor to French colonies, writing about her experiences.  She was adept at shooting and liked to go hunting.

During the First World War Gabrielle's husband served with the small division of the French Army that joined the British contingent in Gallipoli.   His letters to Gabrielle during that time under the title "Uncensored Letters from the Dardanelles" were initially published by Gabrielle in French.  She translated the letters into English and had them published in 1916. You can read the English version of Joseph's letters to his wife here: https://archive.org/stream/uncensoredletter00vassuoft#page/n11/mode/2up  In 1918 Gabrielle had a novel published - "A Romance of the Western Front".

During the Second World War Gabrielle joined the French Resistance.   

Was she Countess von Hoenstadt as some publishers seem to think?  Katrina Gulliver thinks probably not :  ttp://nq.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2009/08/20/notesj.gjp095.short 

Gabrielle died in England in 1959.  

She sounds amazing - I should love to find out more about Gabrielle.

Some of her books are available as free downloads : "On and Off Duty in Annam" by Gabrielle Vassal is available on Archive:   https://archive.org/details/onoffdutyinannam00vassiala

"In and around Yunan Fou" about their time in Vietnam https://archive.org/stream/inroundyunnanfou00vassrich/inroundyunnanfou00vassrich_djvu.txt

With thanks to The Gallipoli Association whose Autumn 2016 Magazine "The Gallipolian" has an article about Gabrielle on page 65.

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