A remarkable number of well known authors were ambulance drivers during World War I. Among them were Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, E.E. Cummings, and W. Somerset Maugham.

In 1944 British author and playwright W. Somerset Maugham's novel The Razor's Edge was published. The story takes place just following World War I and follows a young American Maugham calls Larry Darrell as he searches for spiritual awakening. High in the mountains of India he experiences Enlightenment. However, what drove him on his quest initially was seeing his best friend die in front of his eyes following a dogfight with the Germans. Darrell had gone to Canada, enlisted in the Canadian military at age sixteen and was flying through them for the British in France by 1917. His best friend was an Irishman called Patsy. Patsy taught him everything he needed to know and how to survive. In turn, in the end, it was Patsy that Larry saw die...after saving his life. Although the type plane both Larry and Patsy flew is never mentioned in the novel, it is known they were Sopwith Camels. Maugham had seen the war and the war's carnage at field level because, like Ernest Hemingway and other writers and authors of the time, he was a former volunteer ambulance driver, one of the so-called Literary Ambulance Drives.

Writers Who Were Ambulance Drivers in WWI

  1. Ernest Hemingway
  2. John Dos Passos
  3. E.E. Cummings
  4. W. Somerset Maugham
  5. John Masefield
  6. Malcolm Cowley
  7. Sidney Howard
  8. Robert Service
  9. Louis Bromfield
  10. Harry Crosby
  11. Julien Green
  12. Dashiell Hammett
  13. William Seabrook
  14. Robert Hillyer
  15. John Howard Lawson
  16. William Slater Brown
  17. Charles Nordhoff
  18. Sir Hugh Walpole
  19. Desmond MacCarthy
  20. Russell Davenport
  21. Edward Weeks
  22. C. Leroy Baldridge
  23. Samuel Chamberlain

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