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Trafalgar Day Celebrations in 1914 by Nelson’s column

​Trafalgar Day Celebrations by Nelson’s column, 1914.

​The Invalids Magazine Album and the Dicksee family

Charlotte Hopkins

I was very intrigued when I first came across the Invalids Magazine Album at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) (LMA/4292). This comprises a set of scrapbook-style albums created in the early 1900s and continuing up to the advent of the First World War. The childhoods of the magazine’s contributors spill out on to every page in their stories, poetry, photographs, and watercolours - some are copied, but there are many original works amongst other expressions of childhood freedoms. This is particularly poignant as one of the contributors, Maurice Dicksee, was killed in action just two months before the end of the First World War on 14 September 1918. The later volumes contain articles contributed shortly after the declaration of war, photographs of recruitment and a list of some of the magazine contributors who were in uniform. The editor remarked "...the most terrible war of all times has swooped down upon us..."

Maurice Dicksee was just 21 when he died. The Invalids Magazine Album (and also the Junior I.M.A) is a testament to an Edwardian childhood and a world that was never to be the same again. The concept of this magazine suggests a ‘community’ of invalids and of course there were many more invalids following the First World War. The invalids of the magazine were children that were sick or recovering from illness and perhaps too delicate to venture out to meet other children (a comparison could be made here to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s, Secret Garden).

It was a highly organised operation and the editors laid down strict rules in 1903 regarding deadlines for articles. Members were only allowed to keep the magazine for two days before sending to the next person on the posting list. It was stipulated that “All members must be invalids, or delicate, and need only contribute 3 times a year.” However, anyone could receive the magazine for the payment of 1 shilling and 6 pence a year without contribution. Everyone was encouraged to write criticisms of the work contained within. The magazine enabled them to stay connected with like-minded children via a postal subscription list, reaching out from Hampstead to the Home Counties, Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland and even as far afield as Dresden in Germany. From looking at the subscriber addresses the magazine appears to be intended for a middle-class readership.

One of the most interesting links to the album is that of the Dicksee family. Maurice Dicksee had a sister Dorothy and their father was Herbert Dicksee, painter, etcher and drawing master at the City of London School. Phyllis (who appears to be the most prolific contributor to the albums), Harold, Amy and Cedric were the children of Bernard John Dicksee, the architect who wrote on the London Building Acts 1895-1905. Other members of their extended family included the 19th century artists Thomas Francis Dicksee, John Robert Dicksee, Sir Frank Dicksee and Margaret Isabel Dicksee. Some of the portraits by John Robert Dicksee (father of Herbert and Bernard) and Sir Frank Dicksee of City of London notables are held by Guildhall Art Gallery.

Christmas pudding, illustrated by Maurice Dicksee, 1908.

​Christmas pudding, illustrated by Maurice Dicksee, 1908.

December 1908 issue of the Junior I.M.A (LMA/4292/01/025)

In the December 1908 issue of the Junior I.M.A, Maurice Dicksee, aged 11, wrote this verse:

The Charge of the Grenadiers

Fix bayonets – was the cry.
We’ll win the fight or die!!
On rushed the grenadiers
Without the slightest fears.
They broke through the front row
And plunged their bayonets through the foe
The foe began to give away
The grenadiers gave one “hooray”

The great charge was done
The grenadiers had won
Then they turned towards the hill
Where their mates were cheering still.
Then back they went, hard fighting spent,
They’d earned their rest – they’d fought their best
And as I’m sure you know of course
Some of them had the Victoria Cross.

No doubt Maurice was influenced by stories in the Boys Own Paper where brave young soldiers faced terrible and often tragic odds for their country. Ten years after composing this Maurice would be dead. His father, Herbert, is known for his fine etchings of animals and in particular the depiction of dogs. During the war years he painted sad young women being comforted by the master’s faithful companion. In the same issue (December 1908) Maurice wrote a poem about Christmas with an illustration of a Christmas pudding alongside it. It is hard not to reflect that a few years later, the war that was expected to be over by Christmas, was far from this.

1915 issue of the Invalids Magazine Album (LMA/4292/01/032)

The issue of the Invalids Magazine Album from 1915 contains a photograph of the Trafalgar Day Celebrations in 1914 by Nelson’s column. To instil a sense of national pride the sign states ‘England expects that every man this day will do his duty.’ The same edition contains extracts from letters sent by Maurice’s cousin, Sergeant Instructor Harold Dicksee (Artists Rifles) – “[we] had just started to get to work when a shell landed about 500 yards in front of our position. Nobody took much notice. I personally was rather interested in watching the mud fly. Almost immediately afterwards, another shell landed just where no.1 section were working. Most of the fellows …managed to lie down, but two of them…were unfortunately killed.”

Published:
09 January 2014
Last Modified:
29 September 2017

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