Who is C. W. Grundy?

A Martial Medley (1931) is an engaging collection of Great War fiction and non-fiction, edited by Eric Partridge. It contains a few mysteries, some of which I have solved, but what I want to know is: Who is C.W. Grundy?
The collection opens with Grundy’s story ‘Lost and Found’, about WAACs in France. Partridge’s introduction states that ‘lengthy first-hand knowledge’ is ‘the sine qua non of each contribution’, so we can assume that Grundy is writing from first-hand experience, though that is strongly suggested by the text itself, with its detailed presentation of camp life and attitudes. She describes the ‘warm hairy bite’ of an army blanket, and the time when the Unit Administrator walked on parade with a cigarette sticking to her lower lip, because she had forgotten it was there (‘But how damned slack! Why the hell couldn’t they, the smartest unit in France, have a smart officer?’). This same U.A. gives the women a jaw at roll-call, warning them ‘not to muck about with the fellers ’cause of V.D.’
The story is about a mildly discontented WAAC who receives news from home that her brother has been killed. Distressed and looking for consolation, she throws herself at an officer.
The story is slight and the tone slangy (reminding me slightly of J. Maclaren Ross’s stories from a later war) but it’s got the authenticity that readers look for in Helen Zenna Smith’s Not So Quiet… (which is not as genuine as some would like it to be).So who is/was C. W. Grundy, and did she write more? Grundy is maybe a pseudonym, because Partridge’s anthology is full of them. ‘Corrie Denison’ is Partridge himself (though he also contributes an article on soldiers’ slang under his own name). ‘Miles’ is Stephen Southwold, and ‘Charles Edmonds’ is Charles Carrington.
The only other work by Grundy that I have found traces of is a novel, Egyptian Portrait. This review (from The Tablet 6th September 1930) gives an idea of it.

The perusal of Egyptian Portrait, by C. W. Grundy (Dent ; Cr. 8vo ; pp. 288; 7s. 6d.), must raise in the mind of the reader the question of the utility, or advisability, of trying to superimpose European culture on a non-European foundation. It is apart from our function to decide the question that must arise; experience alone can give the answer. There is no doubt, however, about the fact that in this “Egyptian portrait” we have a powerful study of a character which, having been subjected to several different influences in early life, turns out nondescript and undesirable in the long run. It is the old story of the development of the body outstripping the development of the mind, producing a child with the emotions of a man, and the faulty handling of the lad by a certain type of white woman, who failed to see the harm she was doing. This danger being removed, the lad, in the possession of a competence, is sent to a school conducted by the Franciscan Fathers (where, by the way, the only religious exercises seem to have been Benediction and Confirmation) ; and at this school, as the result of a shock which recalls the “vocation ” of Luther, he becomes a Catholic and even thinks for a time of the priesthood. Life in Cairo follows; then Oxford, with a new set of ideas overlaying the basic Egyptian character. Finally the young man returns to Cairo ; and we leave him lying by the Nile in the chill before the dawn when “he lifted his clenched fist above his head and swore to serve Egypt with life itself.”

The book is by no means a pleasant one, but it holds by the sheer force of its truthfulness.

This sounds very different from Lost and Found. Are there any more Grundy stories out there somewhere?



  1. janevsw
    Posted November 9, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi George,

    If searched for on http://www.copac.ac.uk she turns up as C.W. (Charis Weare) Grundy, author of, indeed, “Egyptian Portrait” 1930, with a cheap edition 1932. There is also a record for her 1921 thesis at Liverpool University, “Lyrical technique in four recent English poets.”

    The 1911 census website has an entry for her:
    Charis Weare Grundy
    Age: 15 Occupation: School
    County: Lancashire Born: 1896 Birthplace: Chicago, Usa

    • Posted November 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Excellent research!
      I wonder what else we can find.

      • janevsw
        Posted November 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

        Not sure if my third message today (below) triggered a message to you George, so sending this – apologies.

  2. janevsw
    Posted November 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    PS: No record in the WAAC files in The National Archives for her, however.

    • janevsw
      Posted November 9, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      However – this told me she was Brigid Brophy’s mother http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0112401/bio and there is accordingly a small amount of information about her in both John and Brigid Brophy’s entries in the Oxford DNB.

  3. Posted November 9, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Many thanks, Jane. The Brophy connection maybe explains how she comes to be in ‘A Martial Medley’, since John Brophy was a friend and collaborator of Partridge’s (and has two pieces in the collection).

    Brigid Brophy was a feisty lady, and obviously took after her mother.

    Following your clues, I’ve now got properly into ancestry.co.uk., and have pieced together this mini-biography:

    1896 Born Chicago, daughter of James Grundy, Minister Catholic Apostolic Church (who was English)and his wife, Ellen (Scottish). The Catholic Apostolic Church was a charismatic movement, partly based on the ideas of Edward Irving.

    1901 Living with family at 77 Canning Street, Liverpool.
    1911 still at the same address

    War service with WAACS, or connected to them.

    1924 June Married John Brophy

    mid-twenties – John has job teaching in Egypt for two years

    1929 Daughter Brigid born

    1930 ‘Egyptian Portrait’ published.

    1931 ‘Lost and Found’ published

    1930s living in Ealing, Uxbridge, Ruislip

    1937 Trade directory lists her as offering tuition in Ruislip.

    1945 living in Kensington

    1950s back to Ealing

    1959 living in Kensington

    1965 John Brophy dies

    1975 Dies, Cambridge, England.

  4. janevsw
    Posted November 9, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Glad I could help George. Being a reference librarian means I can’t stop the urge go into work mode at times appropriate and otherwise…

  5. Posted October 11, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Charis Weare Grundy was my maternal grandmother.

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