Edith Cavell: Her Life and Her Death
The evidence relating to Edith Cavell’s life and death is examined in this chapter. The paucity of “original” primary evidence and eyewitness testimony is recognised. The significance of evidence located at the Archives of The Royal London Hospital, the Imperial War Museum (which holds several collections of witness testimony), the Royal College of Nursing Archives, and newspaper archives (particularly those of The Times and The Manchester Guardian) is acknowledged. Four significant biographies are mentioned: those of Adolph Hoehling, Archibald Clark-Kennedy, Rowland Ryder, and Diana Souhami. Cavell’s life is traced. Particular attention is given to Cavell’s own writings, including a fragment of an original diary she kept in 1914 and 1915. From her prison cell at St Gilles, she wrote several letters, some of which have been preserved at the Imperial War Museum, London. She also spent some of her time studying Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ, before bequeathing a marked copy to her cousin, who had this version republished in facsimile as the Edith Cavell Edition. Edith Cavell was executed by a firing squad on 12 October 1915.