Vera Brittain. One Voice: Pacifist Writings from the Second World War. London and New York: Continuum, 2005. Consists two of her wartime works, Humiliation with Honour (1942) and Seed of Chaos (1944), a condemnation of RAF area bombing. Scholarly introduction by Aleksandra Bennett, foreword by Shirley Williams.

Peter Cooksley. The Home Front: Civilian Life in World War One. Stroud: Tempus, 2006. I don't normally buy histories without references, but this one has lots of interesting and unusual photos, much of it related to the German air raids (all of Cooksley's couple of dozen previous books are aviation history). Searchlight trams -- who knew?

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2 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Brett - my only contact and inroad into WWI and II research, albeit tenuously, is via Shirley Williams. I've always hoped that this might prove useful to someone like Dr Todman or yourself at some stage. If I can take you slightly off-topic for a moment, I'll explain.

    Baroness Williams of Crosby (as she now is) was exceptionally helpful with my research on the Grunwick Dispute. As Labour Secretary of State for Education in 1977 she, famously, made a brief visit to the peaceful Grunwick picket line to show support for the largely female workforce who were striking for union recognition. Although the violence at Grunwick began several weeks afterwards, she has been berated by many in the years since for her visit - Margaret Thatcher, in her memoirs, accuses her of "dusting off her donkey jacket" to join the strike. And, of course, she has attracted perhaps even greater loathing from the Left for leaving the Labour Party and setting up the SDP. Yet she still expresses no regret over her involvement in Grunwick, which she considered a "classic social justice issue". All of this will be revealed more fully when my Grunwick research comes out.....

    The point being: I know Shirley Williams is currently working on her memoirs. By anyone's standards she has had a quite extraordinary life, so I am very much looking forward to publication. And, having corresponded with and then met her, you couldn't hope for a more lucid, sincere and, sometimes, self-critical interviewee. I know little more about the life and work of Vera Brittain than the average UK person brought up in the 1970s when the BBC version of 'Testament of Youth' was a huge national TV event. But, if you are at all interested, you could do worse than write to her, particularly while she is working on her memoirs. I'll admit I've always been an admirer of Shirley Williams, but a more helpful and thoroughly lovely lady you could not hope to meet.

  2. Post author

    Thanks for the suggestion, Jack! I'm not sure, at this stage, how much I'll be getting into the WWII anti-bombing writers, they might just be a coda to my main work. But I recently read Mark Connelly's excellent history of Bomber Command (Reaching for the Stars) and found the Bombing Restriction Committee, of which Vera Brittain was a member, to be very interesting. Seed of Chaos is very rare, so I was pleased to find a reprint. So anyway -- if I do choose to explore that area some more, talking to Shirley Williams might well be a good way to go!

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