“The most courageous woman I have ever encountered” is Edinburgh author Louise Miller’s description of Flora Sandes.
And her book A Fine Brother: The Life of Captain Flora Sandes is truly an account of bravery – both as a soldier in warfare and as a determined woman battling her way through a world riddled with sexism.
She was the only British woman to officially fight as a soldier in WWI, serving with the Royal Serbian Army against the Austro Hungarians and rising from the rank of private to captain. She was decorated seven times and even received the kingdom’s highest military honour.
Louise had long been looking for a research and writing project when she read a few brief paragraphs about Flora in a newspaper.
It was enough to spark more than a decade of research, tracking down everything she could find about e remarkable and largely forgotten figure.
Publishing the book was one thing, but this August she was also able to attend Army@TheFringe to see the opera Dead Equal which was inspired by the biography.
One of the production’s main strands was Flora’s wartime story, her close friendship with Emily Simmonds, and her decision to move from a frontline nursing role to become a fighter.
Louise was overwhelmed and said: “To see her brought to life on stage in front of me was wonderful.”
While the biography and Dead Equal have been helping make more people aware of Flora and her life, she may yet become very widely known indeed.
Louise’s book has been optioned by Mad as Birds and is under development – so watch out for the biopic.
For more about Army@TheFringe and Dead Equal see here.