Agatha Christie. Death in the Clouds. London: HarperCollins, 2001 [1935]. I am ashamed to admit it, but I have read very little British fiction from the early twentieth century, aside from thesis-related stuff and some science fiction. So I'm trying to remedy that, by reading characteristic and/or significant novels from my period. Christie's Hercule Poirot novels are certainly characteristic, and since this one starts off on an airliner bound from Le Bourget for Croydon, the choice seemed clear!

Tom Harrisson. Living Through the Blitz. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1978. A classic book from the co-founder of Mass-Observation, on how the British people coped with the Blitz. Not only does it have a chapter on expectations of the air war-to-come, but there's even one on reactions to the false air raid alarm of 3 September 1939, just moments after Chamberlain's speech announcing the declaration of war. I like it.

Frederic Manning. The Middle Parts of Fortune. Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2000 [1929]. Possibly my most serious shortcoming with respect to pre-1939 literature is that I haven't read any of the "war books" that started coming out about a decade after the end of the First World War. This is a start. (I didn't even know that Manning was an Australian!)

Winston G. Ramsey, ed. The Blitz Then and Now. Volume 1. London: Battle of Britain Prints International, 1987. Lots of interesting material for social history - eg, all the false air raid alarms in the first few months of the war, reactions to the propaganda quickie The Lion Has Wings - along with geeky fun like the Starfish decoy airfield system, and diagrams of the detection lobes of the Chain Home/Chain Home Low radar systems. No references, which drives me batty, but much of it is from Home Office daily intelligence logs. This volume covers the period from the start of the war until 6 September, 1940.

P.G. Wodehouse. The Code of the Woosters. London: Penguin, 1999 [1937]. I have at least read a little Wodehouse before (The Swoop! is a great parody of the Edwardian invasion genre), but now I wonder why I haven't read more! (Airminded language: 'And now the All Clear had been blown, and I had received absolute inside information straight from the horse's mouth that all was hotsy-totsy between this blister and himself', p. 42.)

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

2 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Chris Williams

    By the way, I saw this the other day, of 1938:

    "Many carnival processions featured ARP tableux which was a sombre reminder among the light-hearted entertainment"

    It's from a very airminded work in itself, 'The Solent Sky' by Peter T New (Southampton Printers, 1976), p. 73. No references worthy of the name, alas.

  2. Brett Holman

    Post author

    Thanks - that's very interesting! I've been looking at the Hendon pageants a bit ... I had no idea that the more traditional sort of pageantry might come into this as well. I hope to look at more provincial history (as opposed to just London) and that's exactly the sort of thing I'd like to know more about!

    I assume the book is about the Southampton area? A great place for aviation history, what with Supermarine and all the flying boats. Southampton's also the place that Nevil Shute bombed the **** out of in What Happened to the Corbetts (1939). Maybe Southampton would be a good place to look at, I know Portsmouth had an Air League branch, that's just next door too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *