Testament of Youth
As war breaks out, Vera Brittain comes up to Somerville to read English. She leaves off her studies for several years to work as a VAD nurse. Brittain goes on to write Testament of Youth, one of the best-known accounts of the war written from a woman’s perspective. You can read more about Vera Brittain's legacy at Somerville in our Eminent Somervillians page as well as the Library's 'Somerville in Literature' page.
The 3rd Southern General Hospital
The War Office takes over Somerville’s site for use as a military hospital and the college relocates to St Mary Hall Quad in Oriel. When Somerville returns to its Woodstock Road site four years later, a notice is discovered in Maitland Hall: ‘Officers are requested not to throw custard at the walls’.
'Very Much Like Paradise'
1916 Siegfried Sassoon is a patient at the Somerville Section, 3rd Southern General Hospital. He later recalls that ‘to be lying in a little white-walled room, looking through the open window onto a college lawn, was for the first few days, very much like Paradise’.
Midsummer Night's Mischief
While still temporarily in St Mary Hall, Somerville suffers an incursion from the men of Oriel, who break through the wall built to divide them from the women’s accommodation. One Somervillian later sets the incident in verse, casting Principal Emily Penrose as Thisbe and the Provost of Oriel as Pyramus, conversing through the wall (‘I’ll go at once and send my men to bed…’).