Repository logo

Written With Their Blood: Contemplating Death in South Africa in the Newspaper Poems of 1899–1902

Accepted version



Change log


Rawlinson-Mills, Elizabeth  ORCID logo


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title> jats:pThe South African War of 1899–1902 was a moment of crisis for the British Empire. Although it has been called the high point of British imperialism, its resonances in popular culture texts indicate that that the conflict was a source of national trauma and anxiety as well as an occasion for imperial patriotism. This essay explores the ways in which military and civilian poets writing in English for newspaper publication during the war, in Britain and around the world, were particularly troubled by the wartime landscapes of South Africa. I argue that in their representations of soldiers’ deaths, newspaper poets perform two related mapping exercises. In a cartography of loss, they reflect anxiously on a terrain strewn with British bodies, which were exposed to the extremity of the South African elements and threatened by the landscape’s otherness and apparent emptiness. Meanwhile, other newspaper poems attempt a reparative cartography of remembrance, in which a shared consciousness of buried British bodies and shed British blood could turn topographic locations into beacons in a cultural memory map. Employed by newspaper poets of different political persuasions, these tactics often aimed for patriotic or propagandistic effects, but they simultaneously express uneasiness, about British bodies and British imperial ambitions.</jats:p>



47 Language, Communication and Culture, 4705 Literary Studies, 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Journal Title

The Review of English Studies

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Oxford University Press (OUP)