World War I has been recorded from many points of view: correspondent, poet, politician, and soldier. Comments from a nun living in a foreign country during the hostilities, however, can provide new insights. Isoline Jones was born in 1876 in England, and attended the boarding school at Tildonk, Belgium, run by the Ursuline sisters. She eventually converted to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism and made her perpetual vows in 1907 as a member of the Ursuline community. Her religious name was Mother Marie Georgine. In August 1914, German forces invaded Belgium and occupied the convent and school, and her impressions of the war years are preserved in a series of letters written in the form of a diary. The siege of Antwerp, the plight of refugees, interaction with the German soldiers, and the hectic daily life of the convent were recorded by Mother Marie Georgine. Events occurring throughout Belgium did not escape her attention, and she did not avoid describing the brutality of war. Although sections of her diary have appeared in print, this is the first publication of Mother Marie Georgine's entire diary. Her impressions of World War I offer new perspectives on this tragic event. ""In the format of a diary, Mother Marie Georgine's account of the tribulations and antagonisms endured by her community of Ursuline nuns in German-occupied Belgium during the First World War is a document of considerable historical significance. The reader moves swiftly into the mind-set of this convert Englishwoman, her Christian subscription always preponderant. Professor Kollar has provided unintrusive editorship in bringing to light the often valiant role nuns played under military occupation."" --V. Alan McClelland, Emeritus Professor, Hull University ""There are, as Rene Kollar points out in his helpful introduction to this book, several accounts by nuns of Germany's invasion of Belgium in 1914, and the atrocities committed by the advancing forces. None, however, are as vivid, or as complete, as the diary of Mother Marie Georgine, the very British Isoline Jones, which Father Kollar has meticulously edited and annotated. This is a very useful addition to the literature on World War I."" --Michael John Walsh, author of Every Pilgrim's Guide to Rome ""This edition of Mother Mary Georgine's diary for 1914-18 adds an evocative and beguiling account to the burgeoning literature of the Great War in its centenary years. Personal and closely observed, the narrative of this English Ursuline working and living throughout the war years in a Belgian convent at Tildonk in Brabant provides an unusual firsthand account of war and occupation: from a convent not from the battlefield. The First World War respected no boundaries, and its impact on Belgium--the neutral country at the heart of the war's darkness--comes to life vividly in this memorable miniature."" --Dom Aidan Bellenger, Abbot Emeritus, Downside Abbey Rene Kollar is Professor of History at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His main area of research is nineteenth- and twentieth-century English ecclesiastical history. He is the author of A Foreign and Wicked Institution? (2011).
Rene Kollar is Professor of History at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. His main area of research is nineteenth- and twentieth-century English ecclesiastical history. He is the author of A Foreign and Wicked Institution? (2011).