The History Girls: August 1914: The Enemy Within? by Leslie Wilson

‘Two Germans entered the tube at Belsize Park. While the train was in motion they conversed in German, but during the short periods of silence at the stations they relapsed into bad, guttural French. Two young men, hearing a reference to carrier pigeons, broke their journey at…

Source: The History Girls: August 1914: The Enemy Within? by Leslie Wilson

The Battle of the Somme 1 July 1916-1 July 2016– a very personal memoir | Enough of this Tomfoolery!

Even after 100 years and when no-one who remembers it is alive, the Battle of the Somme and especially its first day remains a scar on the British psyche. The 1st July 1916 and the deaths in action…

Source: The Battle of the Somme 1 July 1916-1 July 2016– a very personal memoir | Enough of this Tomfoolery!

Back in the Dolls House: Misrepresenting Post-War Women in Downton Abbey

In 1917, the headmistress of a girls’ school in Bournemouth delivered her customary address to the sixth formers but on this particular day the speech had a sobering note “I have come to tell you a terrible fact,” she began. “Only one out of 10 of you girls can ever hope to marry… Nearly all the men who might have married you have been killed.”

The statement proved to be prophetic as the interwar years led to the phenomenon of what has been popularly known as the “surplus women” – a term adapted during the early 1920s to collectively describe young women born between 1885 and 1905 who were unmarried by the time the war ended and were destined to marry late if they were lucky or not at all: which for many of these women ended up being…

Source: Back in the Dolls House: Misrepresenting Post-War Women in Downton Abbey

EH Shepard at War

The Testing of a Patriot, 1915. Reproduced with permission of Punch Ltd.

At least two leading illustrators of Punch magazine in the mid-20th Century were warriors of World War I. Kenneth Bird (“Fougasse”) was seriously wounded in Gallipoli and went on to be the first cartoonist to edit Punch. And EH Shepard, OBE, MC (1879 – 1976), who saw extraordinary action in three theatres on the Western Front before serving in Italy.

Most of us know EH Shepard as the illustrator who gave us the Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet we all know so well, not to mention Ratty, Toad et al in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows. After the war and for over 30 years afterwards, he provided cartoons and illustrations for Punch and other popular publications.

But during the war itself, during those long boring lulls between short outbreaks of terror, blood and death that soldiers know so well, he produced hundreds of sketches in pencil and ink as well as watercolours.

Shepard was born in London in 1879. In 1915, he signed up at a relatively advanced age of 35. He joined 105 battery Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA), with whom he remained for the whole conflict. Extraordinarily, he saw action at the…

Source: EH Shepard at War

Exhibition Review: Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom (Museum of London Docklands) | Enough of this Tomfoolery!

Originally posted on Enough of this Tomfoolery!.

In Inventing the Victorians, Matthew Sweet observed that the advent of technology allowed more women to go into work and not just in the traditional farming and cottage industry sectors but into the white-collar sector that was previously the domain of men. The invention of the telegraph, telephone, typewriter and adding machine provided employment opportunities for women to the point when certain jobs such as telephone operator, typist, secretary, bank teller and bookkeeper became female dominated and seen as “women’s work”. Owing to their nimble fingers and dexterity, women were seen as the ideal gender to operate and manipulate these pieces of machinery.

In the same way, technology also allowed women to pursue hobbies other than the usual sewing, drawing, painting, music and others that were deemed appropriate to their gender. Photography is one example and with the invention of the hand-held camera, many men and especially women took to taking photographs with enthusiasm. Queen Alexandra of Britain and the four daughters of Czar Nicholas II of Russia were examples of women who enthusiastically embraced the wonder of photography, becoming proficient with using a camera and it is through them that we have had…

via Exhibition Review: Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom (Museum of London Docklands) | Enough of this Tomfoolery!.

The Introduction

toritto

“Comrade Balabanoff! There is someone here I would like you to meet!”

Angelica turned around to face the voice. It was Franco, one of her colleagues on the Central Committee of the Italian Socialist Party.

“Good evening! How are you!” He gently kissed her on the cheek. With him was a young man rather shabbily dressed, looking somewhat down and out.

Angelica had seen thousands like him. No work and few prospects.

Her life had been so different. Born in Ukraine in 1878, she was the youngest of 14 children, 7 of whom had died before she was born. Her family was very well to do and she wanted for nothing except a mother’s love.

Her mother was a tyrant insisting that the poor peasant household servants bow and scrape, even before the children. Angelica still cringed with embarrassment thinking of grown men humiliating themselves before her because they needed…

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Siegfried Sassoon, Hopelessness and Iraq

Critical Dispatches

Sassoon

Snooping around the charity shops of West London a week past, I spied a copy of Siegfried Sassoon’s fictionalized autobiography, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, on sale for £1. The discovery of a such a volume came as a revelation as although I had been aware of and enjoyed Sassoon’s poetic work (along with Wilfred Owen, he is my hero as far as political poetry is concerned) since I was a preteen– as I am sure anyone born in the North West of England is bred into – I had no idea that he also published prose. At a quid, I would have been the worst sort of miser not to pick it up.

The scale of the whole thing – the de-humaning conditions, the destruction of human life, the sheer hopelessness of it all – is nothing less than horrifying. I remember reading in Savage Continent, Keith Lowe’s brilliant…

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