'Dawn', starring Sybil Thorndike as Edith Cavell, will be shown at The Hyde Park Picture House as part of a Leeds University Great War centenary event (Photo courtesy of Sarah Alhadeff)

Edith Cavell relative to speak at screening of 1928 film in Leeds

Posted on centenarynews.com on 12 October 2015
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A relative of Edith Cavell is to speak at a rare screening of a controversial 1928 film about the British nurse's execution in occupied Brussels.

Dr Emma Cavell will talk about her family and Edith Cavell's legacy as part of Leeds University's Legacies of War project in the UK.

The event on October 24th 2015, entitled Edith Cavell in the Cinema, features a showing of the silent film, Dawn.

Its release almost a century ago provoked diplomatic tension with Weimar Germany.

Dr Cavell, a medieval historian formerly based at Leeds University, said: "I’m very proud that Edith’s bravery and courage is being recognised across the world at this time and am pleased to be returning to Leeds to talk about her life. I am also looking forward to a rare chance to see Dawn on the big screen.

“My branch of the family is descended from Edith’s uncle, George Cavell. We have been in Australia since at least Nurse Cavell’s time but, growing up, we have always known about her. 

"My grandfather used to talk about her all the time and had memories of a postcard from Edith to his father, my great grandfather, in Australia.”

Wreaths laid at Edith Cavell's memorial in London on the centenary of her death (Photo: Centenary News)

Edith Cavell was executed in Brussels at dawn on October 12th 1915 after being sentenced to death by a German court martial for helping Allied soldiers escape to the neutral Netherlands.

Dawn, the 1928 film telling her story, starred Sybil Thorndike, one of the great English actresses of the day, as Edith Cavell.

Dr Claudia Sternberg, senior lecturer in cultural studies at Leeds University, said: “The Cavell case featured in a number of films between 1915 and 1939, but Dawn is the most remarkable. 

"The film emphasised that the conditions of war determined people’s actions, and Sybil Thorndike’s performance as Cavell moved away from earlier clichés. 

"As critics observed at the time, it was ironic that this production triggered diplomatic discord and the threat of censorship."

'Edith Cavell in the Cinema' takes place at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, an historic cinema dating from 1914. The event starts at 3pm on October 24th. Booking information here. Admission is free but donations will be invited for the Cavell Nurses Trust.

Leeds University's Legacies of War project was established almost five years ago as a research and public engagement venture‚Äč for the 1914-18 centenary. 

Source: University of Leeds

Images courtesy of Sarah Alhadeff (Hyde Park Picture House); Centenary News (Cavell Memorial)

Posted by Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News