Sarah Broom Macnaughtan

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Sarah Broom Macnaughtan
Sarah Broom Macnaughtan.jpg
Born 26 October 1864
Partick, Scotland
Died 24 July 1916
London, England
Resting place Chart Sutton
Occupation Writer

Sarah Broom Macnaughtan (26 October 1864 – 24 July 1916) was a Scottish-born novelist. During the outbreak of the First World War, she volunteered with the Red Cross Society and was sent to Russia and eventually Armenia. She wrote extensively about the plight of the Armenian refugees of the Armenian Genocide. She died due to an illness she contracted while abroad.


Born in Partick, Scotland, the fourth daughter and sixth child of Peter Macnaughtan and Julia Blackman,[1][2] she was home schooled by her father.[3] After her parents died, she moved to Kent in England, then to London.[2] There she would embark on a career as a writer, with her first novel, Selah Harrison, being published in 1898. The best known of her works were The fortune of Christina M'Nab (1901), A lame dog's diary (1905), and The expensive Miss Du Cane (1900).[2] She became well-traveled, journeying to, among other locations, Canada, South America, South Africa, the Middle East and India.[3] Sarah participated in the women's suffrage movement, aided victims of the Balkan war, performed social services for the poor in London's East End, and worked for the Red Cross during the Second Boer War.[1]

During the outbreak of the First World War, she volunteered with the Red Cross Society.[4] In September 1914 she travelled to Antwerp in Belgium as part of an ambulance unit.[5] Following the evacuation of the city, she provided assistance in northern France,[4] opening a soup kitchen in Adinkerke.[5] For her work under fire in Belgium, she received the Order of Leopold.[2]

Later in the war she began a journey to Russia where she planned to provide medical assistance. She moved on to Yerevan, Armenia where there was a refugee crisis due the Armenian Genocide. Macnaughtan reported that Yerevan, with a population of 30,000, had approximately 17,000 refugees. She noted in her diary: "These unfortunate people have been nearly exterminated by massacres, and it has been officially stated that 75 per cent, of the whole race has been put to the sword."[6]

However, during the trip through Persia[2] she became ill and had to return to England, where she died from her illness.[3] She was buried in the family plot in Chart Sutton.[7]

An unfinished manuscript became the basis for her book, My Canadian memories, which was finished by her friend Beatrice Home and published in 1920.[3] MacNaughtan Road in Leaside was named after her in payment for her writing services.[8]

Media Portrayal[edit]

Sarah Macnaughtan is one of the 14 main characters of the series 14 - Diaries of the Great War. She is played by actress Celia Bannerman. The documentary portrays her activities in Tiflis and Armenia. She is the only protagonist to die during the conflict, though this is actually not revealed until the very end, when birth and death dates are listed.


  • Selah Harrison[2] (1899)
  • The expensive Miss Du Cane[2] (1900)
  • The fortune of Christina M'Nab[2] (1901)
  • A lame dog's diary: a novel (1905)
  • Three Miss Graemes (1908)
  • Us four (1909)
  • The Andersons (1910)
  • Four-Chimneys: a novel (1912)
  • Peter and Jane, or, The missing heir (1912)
  • Snow upon the desert (1913)
  • A green Englishman, and other stories of Canada (1914)
  • They who question (1914)
  • A woman's diary of the war (1915)
  • Some elderly people & their young friends (1915)
  • My war experiences in two continents (1919)
  • My Canadian memories[3] (1920) with Beatrice Home.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blodgett, Harriet, Macnaughtan, Sarah Broom, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0203046323, retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Macnaughtan, Sarah Broom". Encyclopædia Britannica. 31 (12th ed.). London & New York. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Dagg, Anne Innis (2001), The Feminine Gaze: A Canadian Compendium of Non-Fiction Women Authors and Their Books, 1836–1945, Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, pp. 189–190, ISBN 088920845X. 
  4. ^ a b Tucker, Spencer C.; Wood, Laura M. (1999), Murphy, Justin D., ed., The European Powers in the First World War: An Encyclopedia, Taylor & Francis, p. 753, ISBN 081533351X. 
  5. ^ a b Ouditt, Sharon (2002), Women Writers of the First World War: An Annotated Bibliography, Routledge, p. 74, ISBN 0203046323. 
  6. ^ Macnaughtan, Sarah (1919). My War Experiences in Two Continents. London: J. Murray. 
  7. ^ Macnaughtan, Sarah (1919), Salmon, Betty Keays-Young, ed., My war experiences in two continents, London: J. Murray, p. 270. 
  8. ^ Pitfield, Jane (2008), Leaside (2nd ed.), Dundurn, p. 149, ISBN 1770706518. 

External links[edit]