Non-Combatants and Other Peace Activists: “Everyday” disability in a time of war

Courtney Andree


While depictions of war-related disability would come to dominate the novels of male combatants in the decades following the First World War, congenital disability continued to be represented in the works of female novelists who were advocating peace. Even as the figure of the disabled veteran became hypervisible in Britain, civilians with disabilities frequently came to be overlooked where charitable aid, vocational training, and governmental assistance were concerned. We can chart a similar movement in the literature of the period, as representations of the war maimed came to eclipse "civilian" or congenital disability. In Rose Macaulay’s Non-Combatants and Others (1916) and Rose Allatini’s Despised and Rejected (1918), characters with physical disabilities become outspoken activists for the anti-war movement as they openly combat the illogic of the war and continue to labor as artists and intellectuals. Besides making these disabled bodies visible again, Allatini and Macaulay draw attention to what fitness means in sexual, intellectual, and physical terms, and encourage readers to consider what it means for the “unfit” to reject a war that has already rejected them.


Keywords: First World War; Congenital disability; War disability; Women writers



First World War; Congenital disability; War disability; Women writers

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Copyright (c) 2014 Courtney Andree

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