Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 January 2021
During the First World War some of the most prominent Americans who aided France through their writing and charity work were expatriate women, many finding creative freedom and economic opportunities there that they lacked in the United States. Mildred Aldrich, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Atherton, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher advocated on behalf of France, believing that fuller American support for France might help relieve the human suffering they saw before them and, more idealistically, preserve the civilization they found represented in France. These women wrote journalism, propaganda, academic studies, and sentimental prose, none of which are easily disentangled from each other as all are meant to convince, educate, or persuade readers to a particular point of view. They take as their subjects the wide variety of human issues that circulated around war, its impact on civilian life, the effects of invasion and occupation, injury and loss of life, and larger questions about inherited values and human responsibility in the face of suffering.