In search of meaningful work, 1914–1915
in Ellen N. La Motte
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This chapter focuses on La Motte’s decision to leave London in the fall of 1913 to move to Paris, where she stayed until the outbreak of World War One, living in the bohemian Montparnasse district while completing the culmination of her nursing work, The Tuberculosis Nurse, and attempting to develop her skills as a writer of short fiction. After the completion of the book, La Motte intended to leave nursing behind permanently and to become a writer of short fiction, a form she had been exploring for several years, as her unpublished manuscripts reveal. The start of the war in August 1914, right at the time La Motte had returned to the United States after living in Europe for more than a year, led her back to Paris and to a prolonged search to find a nursing position. During more than six months of searching, La Motte’s diary reveals that she encountered significant frustration finding a position. By drawing on her unpublished manuscripts, letters, and a diary, this chapter examines her personal and professional frustrations as she tried to put her great skills to use as a war nurse.

Ellen N. La Motte

Nurse, writer, activist

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