Eva was the daughter of Wine Merchant and local historian Clarence Mason Dobell from Cheltenham, and the niece of the Victorian poet Sydney Dobell. She volunteered to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) as a nurse in World War I. Her experiences in the VAD prompted her to write poetry about, inter alia, wounded and maimed soldiers which has been well-thought of by many versed in the ways of poetry. She also took part in the morale-boosting work of writing to prisoners of war. Her full name was Eveline Jessie Dobell and she was born the youngest of three children on 30 January 1876 at the Grove, Charlton Kings in Gloucestershire, England. She died on 3 September 1963 at the age of 87 years at which time her home address was Abbeyholme, Overton Rd, Cheltenham. She never married. Her mother was Emily Anne Duffield a native of Manchester, England.
While she was also known in her time as a regional poet (one of her Gloucestershire poems was recently set to music), Dobell is best known today for her occasional poems from the war period, which all describe wounded soldiers, their experiences, and their bleak prospects. A few of these poems are widely dispersed on the internet, and these continue to receive some scholarly acknowledgment. "Night Duty," for instance, is cited as one of many poems by female war-poets and nurses that provide access to an experience rarely shared by male poets such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. Perhaps the most frequently reproduced is "Pluck," especially on sites dedicated to the Great War. "Pluck" also found its way into printed anthologies such as The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the First World War, and was even set to music.
After the war, she continued to write; in all, she published half a dozen books of poetry, a verse drama, and edited a book of poems by Lady Margaret Sackville.
- "(In A Soldier's Hospital I) Pluck"
- "Advent 1916"
- "Night Duty"
- "(In A Soldiers' Hospital II) Gramophone Tunes"
Books of poetry
- Songs and Sonnets. London: Elkin Mathews, 1902.
- A Bunch of Cotswold Grasses. London: A.H. Stockwell, 1919.
- Snap-shots of Travel. London: Erskine Macdonald, 1925.
- Youths and the Swallows and Other Verse. London: Favil Press, 1942.
- A Gloucestershire Year. Bradford: Jongleur Press, 1949.
- Verses New and Old. London: Favil Press, 1959.
- A Woodland Tale: A Phantasy. London: George Allen and Sons, 1909.
- Margaret Sackville. A Poet's Return: Some Later Poems of Lady Margaret Sackville. Cheltenham: Burrow's Press, 1940.
- S. Fowler Wright, ed. The County Series of Contemporary Poetry No. VII. Gloucester: The Empire Poetry League, 1927. "The Roman Camp" and "The Faery Wood."
- Catherine W. Reilly, ed. Scars Upon My Heart: Women’s Poetry and Verse of the First World War. London: Virago Press, 1982.
- Vincent Sherry, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the First World War. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. ISBN 978-0-521-52897-9. "Pluck."
- Johnny Coppin. The Gloucestershire Collection. Red Sky, 1994. "Tom's Long Post," set to music.
- Evidenced by her inclusion in S. Fowler Wright, ed. The County Series of Contemporary Poetry No. VII, an anthology of poems by poets from or near Gloucester.
- "Tom's Long Post" on Johnny Coppin's The Gloucestershire Collection.
- Lusty, Heather (Summer 2008). "Looking Back: New Studies in the Literature of Twentieth-Century War". Journal of Modern Literature. 31 (4): 145–51. doi:10.1353/jml.0.0014.
Their elegiac poems, characterized by a sense of mourning, emphasized the suffering they witnessed in the injured, often with arresting candorLusty is speaking of "female medical persona like May Sinclair, Vera Brittain, Mary Henderson, and Eva Dobell, working in dressing stations and hospitals."
- Cummings, Randy (1995). "Female Poets of the First World War: A Study in the Diversity for the Fifth Grade Social Studies Curriculum". Poetry In and Out of the Classroom: Essays from the ACLS Elementary and Secondary Schools Teacher Curriculum Development Project. American Council of Learned Societies: Occasional Paper No. 29. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
Their intimate knowledge of suffering and death influenced women to write verse stripped of the sentimental and jingoistic.
- For instance, "Pluck" on From The Trenches, and on First World War Poetry.
- Vincent Sherry, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the First World War. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005. ISBN 978-0-521-52897-9.
- Seven Ages: An Anthology of Poetry with Music. Naxos Audio Books, 2000.
- Dowson, Jane; Entwistle, Alice (2005). A History of Twentieth-century British Women's Poetry. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. p. 312. ISBN 978-0-521-81946-6..
- Table of contents at The County Series of Contemporary Poetry No. VII.