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Testament of Youth


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#1 Tim Birch

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 05:42 PM

I am reading Vera Brittain's "Testament of Youth" a moving book about the Great War as seen from the home front. It is also an interesting insight into the life of a VAD.

It is a true love story and a hauntingly sad book as the author discloses her feelings for her fiance who is at the front and you realise that it is inevitable that her life is going to be shattered like so many others, not just once, but twice, as her soldier brother is also at the front.

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#2 paul guthrie

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 06:05 PM

On the old WFA site we had a top 5 book list, this was my #1. It's painful to read. And it's not two Tim, three, a best friend died too. I have been to Edward Brittain's grave in Italy twice, her account of the visit and her communications with his VC CO are haunting.

#3 Michelle Young

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 06:23 PM

Hi Tim
I recommend that you get hold of Letters From A Lost Generation edited by Alan Bishop and Mark Bostridge, and Chronicle of Youth , Veras diary 1913-1917 edited by Alan Bishop. Also worth reading is Vera Brittan-A Life by Paul Berry and Mark Bostridge.

Paul-4 surely? Edward, plus RAL, GRYT and VR.

Regards, Michelle blink.gif

#4 Sparky53

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 10:21 PM

Vera Brittain was the mother of Shirley Williams the politician.

Vera was from Newcastle Under Lyme

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#5 BeppoSapone

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Posted 01 February 2005 - 11:15 PM

QUOTE (Sparky53 @ Tue, 1 Feb 2005 22:21:07 +0000)
Vera Brittain was the mother of Shirley Williams the politician.

Vera was from Newcastle Under Lyme

Jame

She lived in Buxton, where she is still not liked.

#6 jayne w

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:32 PM

I agree with you Michelle "letters from a lost generation" was very good as a follow up to "testament of youth"

Beppo - why is she still not liked in Buxton?
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#7 BeppoSapone

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:39 PM

QUOTE (jayne w @ Wed, 2 Feb 2005 13:32:01 +0000)
Beppo - why is she still not liked in Buxton?
Jayne

Jayne

I am not 100% certain on this, but I think she said/wrote some nasty things about the town. I lived in the town for two and a bit years and, if ever I asked about Vera got a very poor opinion of her from local people.

IIRC I was trying to find out more about her, why she was disliked, and asked some questions in this forum. A search ought to come up with something.

Hope this helps.

#8 BeppoSapone

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 01:46 PM

QUOTE (BeppoSapone @ Wed, 2 Feb 2005 13:39:42 +0000)
QUOTE (jayne w @ Wed, 2 Feb 2005 13:32:01 +0000)


Beppo - why is she still not liked in Buxton?
Jayne

Jayne

I am not 100% certain on this, but I think she said/wrote some nasty things about the town. I lived in the town for two and a bit years and, if ever I asked about Vera got a very poor opinion of her from local people.

IIRC I was trying to find out more about her, why she was disliked, and asked some questions in this forum. A search ought to come up with something.

Hope this helps.

Jayne

I have done the search, and the thread you need is called "Vera Brittain, Home Address 1914". It was started by me on 8th November 2003.

Hope this helps, I am not 100% sure how to do a link, so thought that I would do it this way.

#9 Tim Birch

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 04:44 PM

Vera Brittain was brought up in Buxton, but left it for good in 1915 when she went up to become a VAD at St Bartholomew's Camberwell Extension. She is a bit patronising about it's small town provincial outlook in her book which probably ruffled a few of Buxton "society's" feathers!

Tim

#10 robbie

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:15 PM

I'm reading Vera Brittain's Testament of Friendship at the moment.

From Amazon: In this book, Vera Brittain tells of the woman who helped her survive the First World War - the writer Winifred Holtby. They met at Oxford immediately after the war and their friendship continued through Vera's marriage and their separate but parallel writing careers, until Winifred's death at 37.

I am also reading Claire Leighton's book Tempestuous petticoats. Claire was engaged to Vera' son Roland I believe.
Robbie

#11 jayne w

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 05:34 PM

Thanks Beppo and Tim for the info - will certainly look up the thread.

Robbie - will be interested to know what you think about those books you are reading especially the one about her son's fiance. My scant subsequent knowledge about her was the well known daughter!!

Regards

Jayne biggrin.gif

#12 Michelle Young

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 06:42 PM

QUOTE (robbie @ Wed, 2 Feb 2005 17:15:01 +0000)
I'm reading Vera Brittain's Testament of Friendship at the moment.


I am also reading Claire Leighton's book Tempestuous petticoats. Claire was engaged to Vera' son Roland I believe.
Robbie

Hi Robbie
Clare Leighton was Roland Leightons sister. Roland was engaged to Vera Brittain. She moved to America during WW2 and in the 30s lived with Noel Brailsford. Also worth reading are Chronicle of Friendship, Veras diary of the 30s, and wartime Chronicle
Rolands nephew David (son of Rolands brother Evelyn) told me that he though that had Roland and Vera married, they would have fought like cat and dog.
Where did you get Tempestuous Petticoat from please?
Regards, Michelle blink.gif

#13 salientpoints

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 06:49 PM

Tempestuous Petticoat should be available from any good book shop (or probably most online ones)

It's an American title, published by 'Academy of Chicago Publications'

The ISBN is 0897330994 12.99

Cheers

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#14 robbie

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 07:16 PM

[quote=Michelle Young,Wed, 2 Feb 2005 18:42:49 +0000] am also reading Claire Leighton's book Tempestuous petticoats. Claire was engaged to Vera' son Roland I believe.
Robbie [/QUOTE]
Hi Robbie
Clare Leighton was Roland Leightons sister. Roland was engaged to Vera Brittain. She moved to America during WW2 and in the 30s lived with Noel Brailsford. Also worth reading are Chronicle of Friendship, Veras diary of the 30s, and wartime Chronicle
Rolands nephew David (son of Rolands brother Evelyn) told me that he though that had Roland and Vera married, they would have fought like cat and dog.
Where did you get Tempestuous Petticoat from please?
Regards, Michelle blink.gif [/quote]
oops. I'd left my notes on Vera Brittain at home and was replying from work. Thanks for putting the record straight.

Robbie ph34r.gif

#15 robbie

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 07:19 PM

Hi Michelle,
I ordered a copy from the US as I always do if i can't get a book on AMazon, Try these links:

http://www.bookfinder.com/

http://www.usedbooksearch.co.uk/


Robbie

#16 Michelle Young

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 08:07 AM

Many thanks for the links Robbie, I think I'd better lie low with buying books for a while though! I'll also check the site for Honourable Estate which Vera published in 1936, and vented her spleen on Buxton in her portrayal of the town, but resist buying them............ unsure.gif

#17 AndyHollinger

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 12:43 PM

I have Testament of Youth and read it a long while ago. The sadness and grief were truly moving. However, after a while it gets to be too much. I have also read her WWII book - name escapes me - and found it still lost in grief.

There is a place for all of this and one must read this sort of thing. It does help balance the testosterone of the war memoir nicely ... however she never moved on ... and when WWII came, stayed in a pacificist cacoon. My own sense is that she never differentiated between the starting of WWI by the Germans which WAS senseless and the fighting of it which was not. Nor did she see a difference between German Militarism and the Nazi plan ...

I think there is a difference between Rememberance and Forever Lost in Grief. Reading her book(s) was much like reading only the romantic parts of Farewell to Arms ... more of a grief and a memory than a real emotional relationship ... she gives us ghosts and sorrow not real people ... the impact of her writing was, I believe, negative when seen in WWII terms, but important. The pacificism she came to was only positive if Britain did survive and could survive without fighting ...

#18 robbie

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 12:49 PM

Hi Andy,

Thanks for your thoughts on this book. Similar remarks were made by a speaker at the Univirsity of Kent Great War Forum last December. I recall this speaker's view was that she never got over the loss of Roland, and that her writings relfected an idealised view of life and relationships. Will post my comments when I've read the book.

robbie

#19 Tim Birch

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 02:00 PM

QUOTE (robbie @ Thu, 3 Feb 2005 12:49:57 +0000)
I recall this speaker's view was that she never got over the loss of Roland, and that her writings relfected an idealised view of life and relationships.

That's an interesting observation. Her grief is quite wearing as one reads on through the book.

Although they were engaged, it seems that they actually only spent a total of 17 days together, spread over a period of time; most of their relationship was conducted through letters, and even when they were together they were almost inevitably chaperoned. I think the only physical contact between them occured when they saw each other for the last time as she was boarding a train, and on the spur of the moment they kissed goodby.

A truly ideallistic love, although they were awkward in each other's company during his last leave, and it may be that towards the end, just before he was killed, he was beginning to cool? She blames the artificial strain put on them by the war, but I wonder....

Tim

#20 paul guthrie

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 02:35 PM

Her regrets clearly include not having had sex with Roland, poor Vera and Roland.

#21 robbie

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 02:41 PM

Yes, poor Vera and Roland.

I must admit I am suprised at how many forum members have read her books. I had never heard of her until the guest speaker at our GW day in December. Are her works studied in school in the UK? Same with Owen and Sassoon..us Aussies are a lot of uncultured riff raff, aren't we?

Robbie dry.gif

#22 Sparky53

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 05:20 PM

I read them years ago in my early 20s and "The War the Infantry Knew" - Capt Dunn and "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer" - Sasoon

No idea why - I think it was seeing various remembrance services

I was highly impressed when I discovered my dad was a great friend of one of Vera's nephews

Jane

#23 robbie

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 05:36 PM

Thanks Jane. It seems her work was popular in Britain. Which nephew?

I may be wrong but was she a contempory of Virginia Woolf, Sackville-West, Nanch Mitford? or am I way out?

Robbie

#24 Michelle Young

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 05:56 PM

Vera certainly met Vita Sackville West -on a trans atlantic liner-and corresponded briefly with Virginia Woolf. Not sure about Nacy Mitford. She was ceratinly a contemporary of Dorothy L Sayers-they were at Oxford together and Rebecca West ,Margaret Storm Jameson and Phyllis Bentley. Chronicle of Friendship gives agood description of a writers life in London in the 30s.

T of Y wasn't studied at school in my day, but the Beeb did a good adaptaion of it in the 70s I believe, which was repeated in the early 90s.

For more insight into her later life, try to get hold of the biography-Vera Brittain-A Life.

#25 paul guthrie

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 06:10 PM

Thanks Michelle for letting us know she was friends with Dame Rebecca West. TY is my favorite WW1 book though I have not worked up the nerve to read it again though there are many history books, Dickens novels I have read 5 or 6 times, War the Infantry Knew, Her Privates We many others.
Black Lamb Gray Falcon by West is the best book I have ever read , amazingly knowledgeable history/travel book about pre WW2 Balkans, all writers on the Balkans since pay homage to her. I have visited her grave at Brookwood.