Writing the war: Jessie Traill

  • Date recorded: 30 Jun 2014

  • Duration: 04:25

'"The first five years of the war will be the worst" was the old saying, and these are over now. The Armistice is signed and there will be peace.'

– Jessie Traill

About this video

Watch our series of short films accompanying our Writing the war: personal stories from WWI exhibition, highlighting the individual experiences of Australians who participated in the war. The films also feature in our permanent exhibition, The changing face of Victoria, as part of the State Library's World War I centenary commemoration. The Writing the war touring exhibition will travel to Victorian public libraries from August 2015 to June 2017.

Here, the excitement and emotions of Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, are conveyed through the words of Australian-born artist Jessie Traill as hospital staff, soldiers, schoolchildren and townsfolk celebrate the end of five years of war.

The film is illustrated with photographs and pen-and-ink drawings depicting daily life at the No 8 British General Hospital, Rouen, France, where Jessie worked.

About Jessie Traill

Jessie Traill (1881–1967) was born in Brighton, Victoria. She studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School from 1902 to 1906, before sailing to England with her family. Jessie joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment on the outbreak of war in 1914, and worked at the No 8 British General Hospital near Rouen from July 1915 until February 1919. While in France, she provided basic first aid, nursing and care to the sick and wounded men fighting on the frontline.

In the early 1920s Jessie returned to Australia, where she became well known for her prints of the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and established a reputation as one of the great Australian artists of the 20th century.

Watch the other videos in this series