Brittain, Vera (1893–1970)

views updated

Brittain, Vera (1893–1970)

British writer, feminist, and a leading pacifist chronicler of her times. Born Vera Mary Brittain on December 29, 1893, in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England; died on March 29, 1970, in London; daughter of Thomas Arthur (a paper manufacturer) and Edith Mary (Bervon) Brittain; attended Somerville College, Oxford, 1914–15, 1919–21, M.A., 1925; married George Edward Gordon Catlin, June 27, 1925; children: John and Shirley Williams (b. 1930, British politician).

Selected publications:

Verses of a V.A.D. (E. Macdonald, 1918); The Dark Tide (Grant Richards, 1923); Not Without Honor (Grant Richards, 1923); Women's Work in Modern England (N. Douglas, 1928); Halcyon: The Future of Monogamy (K. Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1929); Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900–1925 (Gollancz, 1933); Poems of the War and After (Gollancz, 1934); Honourable Estate: A Novel of Transition (Gollancz, 1936, published in America as Honorable Estate, Macmillan, 1936); Thrice a Stranger: New Chapters of Autobiography (Gollancz, 1938); Wartime Letters to Peace Lovers (Peace Book Company, 1940); Testament of Friendship: The Story of Winifred Holtby (Macmillan, 1940); England's Hour (Macmillan, 1941); Humiliation with Honour (A. Dakers, 1942); Account Rendered (Macmillan, 1944); Seeds of Chaos: What Mass Bombing Really Means (New Vision, 1944, published in America as Massacre by Bombing, Fellowship Publications, 1944); (ed. with George Catlin and Sheila Hodges) Above All Nations (Gollancz, 1945); On Becoming a Writer (Hutchinson, 1947, published in America as On Being an Author, Macmillan, 1948); Born 1925: A Novel of Youth (Macmillan, 1948); In the Steps of John Bunyan: An Excursion into Puritan England (Rich and Cowan, 1950, published in America as Valiant Pilgrim: The Story of John Bunyan and Puritan England (Macmillan,

1950); Search after Sunrise (Macmillan, 1951); Lady into Woman: A History of Women from Victoria to Elizabeth II (A. Dakers, 1953); Testament of Experience: An Autobiographical Story of the Years 1925–1950 (Gollancz, 1957); Selected Letters of Winifred Holtby and Vera Brittain, 1920–1935 (A. Brown, 1960); The Women at Oxford: A Fragment of History (Harrap, 1960); Pethick-Lawrence: A Portrait (Allen and Unwin, 1963); The Rebel Passion: A Short History of Some Pioneer Peace-Makers (Allen and Unwin, 1964, published in America as Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1964); Envoy Extraordinary: A Study of Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and Her Contribution to Modern India (Allen & Unwin, 1965); Radclyffe Hall: A Case of Obscurity (American edition, A.S. Barnes, 1968); (Alan Bishop with Terry Smart, eds.) Chronicle of Youth: War Diary, 1913–1917 (Gollancz, 1981); (Paul Terry and Alan Bishop, eds.) Testament of a Generation: The Journalism of Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby (Virago, 1985); (Alan Bishop, ed.) Chronicle of Friendship: Diary of the Thirties, 1932–1939 (Gollancz, 1986); (Winifred and Alan Eden-Green, eds.) Testament of a Peace Lover: Letters from Vera Brittain (Virago, 1988); (Alan Bishop and Y. Aleksandra Bennett, eds.) Wartime Chronicle: Vera Brittain's Diary, 1939–1945 (Gollancz, 1989).

On the morning after Christmas, 1915, Vera Brittain, a young British nurse off-duty in Brighton, dressed in her room at the Grand Hotel, awaiting the arrival of her fiancé scheduled to return on furlough from the Western Front. Soon, there was a knock on the door, and she was summoned to the phone; the call was from her fiancé's sister Clare Leighton . He would not be arriving, Brittain was told. Then Clare read the cable just received by the family: "Regret to inform you that Lieut. R.A. Leighton 7th Worcesters died of wounds December 23rd. Lord Kitchener sends his sympathy." Roland Leighton had been killed inspecting faulty barbed wire along the trenches at Louvencourt, France. The mission that night had been dangerous: the moon was high and the Germans only a few hundred yards away. Upon hearing the details, Brittain could only ask: "Why did you go so boldly, so heedlessly, in No Man's Land when you knew that your leave was so near?" She later mused, "Hardest of all to bear, perhaps, was the silence which must for ever repudiate that final question." The following Easter, attending services at London's St. Paul's Cathedral, Brittain was struck by an inscription under G.F. Watts' picture of Hagar in the desert: "Watchman, will the night soon pass?" Of herself, she asked, "Will the night pass soon? How much longer can I endure it? What will help me to endure it, if endure it must be?"

Leighton, Clare (b. 1899)

British illustrator and wood engraver. Born Clare Veronica Hope Leighton on April 12, 1899, in London, England; daughter of Robert (a literary critic and journalist) and Marie (Connor) Leighton (a novelist); attended Brighton School of Art, Slade School of Fine Art, University of London, 1921–23, and London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts, Southampton Row; married Henry Noel Brailsford; lived in Woodbury, Connecticut.

Won first prize and medal at the International Exhibition of Engraving at the Chicago Art Institute (1930); represented England in wood-engraving at the International Exhibition in Venice (1934); awarded D.F.A., Colby College (1940); works reside in permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum, the National Galleries of Stockholm and Canada, Boston Fine Arts Museum, Baltimore Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Along with Wanda Gág , Clare Leighton was one of the foremost practitioners of wood engraving of her day. She grew up in St. John's Wood, a mecca for artists, and was privately educated at home at the dining-room table. "It's useless for you to think you need any serious schooling," her mother would admonish. "I disapprove of education for women. Never forget that a blue stocking is a woman who has failed in her sex, and that the few females who find their way to a university are inevitably far from being the well-bred women of England. A career woman never belongs to the aristocracy." Then her mother would start the morning's dictation of one of her serial installments for the English newspapers that would feed and clothe her three children. Unlike her father's boys' books, her mother's writing brought in large sums of money.

In November of 1935, Leighton arrived in America with plans to travel and sketch. With the advent of World War II, she settled permanently in the U.S. in 1939 and became a naturalized citizen in 1945. Leighton wrote and illustrated The Farmer's Year (1933), Four Hedges, a month-by-month journal of her garden in the Chiltern Hills (1935), Country Matters (1937), Sometime, Never (1939), Southern Harvest (1942), along with several books for children. She also illustrated Emily Brontë 's Wuthering Heights, Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, H.M. Tomlinson's The Sea and the Jungle, and Thomas Hardy's The Return of the Native. Her autobiography Tempestuous Petticoat (Reinhart & Co.) was published in 1947. A close friend of Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby ,

But World War I was to last until 1918, and there would be a great deal more to endure. For the next three years, Brittain had a foreboding that her own brother, Edward, also stationed in France on the Western Front, would die in combat. For a brief period, superstition kept her from writing him, as she believed that "if I did he would certainly be dead before the letter arrived." On June 22, 1918, while tending her ill mother in London, she heard the sudden loud knock on the door that always signified the arrival of a telegraph.

For a moment I thought that my legs would not carry me, but they behaved quite normally as I got up and went to the door…. I opened and read it in a tearing anguish of suspense. "Regret to inform you Captain E.H. Brittain M.C. killed in action Italy June 22." "No answer," I told the boy mechanically.

Edward had been shot through the head by an Austrian sniper at Asiago Plateau, Italy. The war, Brittain later mused, had condemned her to:

live to the end of my days in a world without confidence or security, a world in which every dear personal relationship would be fearfully cherished under the shadow of apprehension; in which love would seem threatened perpetually by death; and happiness appear a house without duration, built on the shifting sands of chance. I might, perhaps, have it again, but never again should I hold it.

From the moment of her brother's death, Vera Brittain vowed that she would never again sanction another war.

Vera Mary Brittain had been born at Newcastle-under-Lyme on December 29, 1893. Her mother Edith Bervon Brittain was the daughter of a struggling Welsh organist. Her father Thomas Brittain was a prosperous director of Brittain's Ltd., a paper mill near Stoke-on-Trent. Young Vera first grew up in Macclesfield, then after age 11 in Buxton in Derbyshire, a health resort so provincial that she found it a veritable prison. She never lacked for material comfort, though she balked against her parents' "dull life of respectable mediocrity," and her parents never encouraged her intellectual gifts. Fortunately, they were stimulated by Edward, a composer, and his friends at Uppingham School.

From ages 14 through 17, Vera attended St. Monica's, Kingswood, a private girls' school where her intellectual curiosity was aroused by Louise Heath Jones , the school's founder. Brittain's incipient feminism was strongly influenced by author Olive Schreiner 's Women and Labour (1911), and Vera modeled herself after the heroine of Schreiner's novel, Story of an African Farm (1883). In 1912, she became what she called "a provincial debutante," living a life of dances, bridge, tennis, and music lessons. In April 1913, she confided to her diary: "I have not been touched directly yet either by the thrill of joy or the darkness of tragedy; mine has been a very sheltered life."

Prompted by John Marriott, an Oxford don giving a series of extension lectures at Buxton, Brittain applied to Somerville, Oxford's most competitive college for women. In 1914, she won a scholarship, with an entrance essay challenging Thomas Carlyle's pronouncement that history was the biography of great men. It was as a student at Somerville that Brittain had fallen in love with her brother's best friend, the poetic Roland Leighton. The Leightons were a highly talented family. Roland's mother Marie Connor Leighton wrote more than 40 novels, his father Robert was a literary critic and journalist who authored some 35 adventure stories for boys, and his sister Clare Leighton later made her mark as a woodcut artist and author.

When WWI first broke out on the European Continent, Brittain supported intervention, believing that a beleaguered France needed rescue. Moreover, she said, "this war is a matter of life & death to us," meaning her own nation. In June 1915, she enrolled as a "VAD," or member of the Voluntary Aid Detachments, a 23-woman unit founded by the British Red Cross and the St. Johns' Ambulance Association to aid the professional nursing services. She served first at Devonshire Hospital, then was assigned in October to First London General, which had been turned into a military institution. In September 1916, she was sent to St. George's Hospital, Malta, and in August 1917 was ordered to No. 24 General Hospital in Étaples, France, where she cared for German war prisoners. Her brother had just been sent to Ypres, not far away, to fight in the opening campaign of the Battle of Passchendaele. She later wrote:

One day, when I had just finished the gruesome and complicated dress of a desperately wounded soldier, a disturbing thought struck me. Wasn't it odd that I, in Étaples, should be trying to save the life of a man whom my brother up at Ypres had perhaps done his best to kill? And didn't that argue the existence of some fundamental absurdity in the whole tragic situation?

Right after a severe engagement at Cambrai, she wrote her parents:

I wish those people who write so glibly about this being a Holy War … could see a case—to say nothing of ten cases—of mustard gas in its early stages. … [T]he only thing one can say is that such severe cases don't last long; either they die soon or they improve—usually the former; they certainly never reach England in the state we have them here, and yet people persist in saying that God made the War, when there are such inventions of the Devil about.

In May 1918, Brittain had to return to England to care for her ill mother. Yet, when she resumed nursing at London's St. Bartholomew's Hospital, she was assigned only the most menial of tasks, "punishment" for technically breaking contract with the VADs. She later referred to herself as "a ghost too dazed to feel the full fury of her own resentment."

Not only did the war see the death of Brittain's fiancé and brother, but also the third of the "Three Musketeers," Victor Richardson, who had been blinded at Arras in June 1917 by a bullet behind the eyes. Brittain had also planned to marry the wounded Richardson. Furthermore, Geoffrey Thurlow, another close friend of Edward and a person to whom Brittain had been closely attached, had been killed that April. In her memoirs, Brittain described the strain of that time:

The enemy within shelling distance—refugee Sisters [head nurse in a ward] crowding in with nerves all awry—bright moonlight, and aeroplanes carrying machine guns—ambulance trains jolting noisily into the siding, all day, all night—gassed men on stretchers, clawing the air—dying men, reeking with mud and foul green-stained bandages, shrieking and writhing in a grotesque travesty of manhood—dead men with fixed, empty eyes and shiny, yellow faces.

In 1919, after the war's end, Brittain returned to Oxford and shifted her studies from English to history, focusing on modern diplomacy. In 1921, she obtained a disappointing second in her field, but occasionally taught history at St. Monica's. Now her peacekeeping interests led her, along with fellow student Winifred Holtby , to become a speaker for the League of Nations Union (LNU), a strongly antiwar organization in the 1920s. For three years, she addressed audiences on peace and feminism, sometimes speaking as much as four times a week. Fascism and Nazism, she always maintained, were the inevitable products of the vindictive Versailles Treaty.

All this time Brittain's friendship with Holtby grew. They shared a flat in Maida Vale, London. They often traveled together to Europe, serving as accredited journalists reporting on the League's Assemblies in Geneva and visiting the trenches and cemeteries of the Western Front. Both contributed to Time and Tide, a weekly with strong feminist leanings. In 1924, Brittain and Holtby became Socialists, after seeing the misery of London's slums while campaigning for Liberal candidate Sir Percy Harris, a prominent LNU backer. Brittain's socialism grew out of the conviction that:

no change would come soon enough to save the next generation from the grief and ruin that had engulfed my own so long as the world that I knew endured—the world of haves and have-nots; of Great Powers and little nations, always at the mercy of the wealthy and strong; of influential persons whose interests were served by war, and who had sufficient authority to compel politicians to precipitate on behalf of a few the wholesale destruction of millions.

In 1925, Brittain married George Catlin, who had accumulated a brilliant record at Oxford's New College. Professor of politics at age 28, Catlin taught at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, from 1924 to 1935. He wrote well-received studies, including A Study of the Principles of Politics (1929) and The Story of the Political Philosophers (1939). He became a prominent member of the Labour Party, returning frequently to England, where he unsuccessfully ran three times for Parliament.

Brittain and Catlin carried on a lengthy correspondence before they met and became engaged within ten days of their first encounter. Though charmed by the beauty of Ithaca where she spent one winter, Brittain (who kept her maiden name) found herself professionally unfulfilled and returned to London. She called her marriage "semi-detached": her husband journeyed each winter to Cornell, while she remained with Holtby and her two children under one roof at Chelsea. Brittain's love for Catlin was never as intense as it had been for Roland Leighton. Moreover, she could no more adopt his Roman Catholicism than he could share her pacifism. Yet, they remained a devoted couple.

Progressive childrearing now became one of the causes for which Brittain spoke, along with world peace. In 1928, she did a study of British working conditions for women, followed in 1929 by an attack on conventional views of marriage. She remained very much a woman of her class, however, interspersing her activism with hairdresser appointments and luncheons. She supervised four servants, shopped in chic dress shops, attended cocktail parties frequented by prominent literati and political leaders, and enjoyed long spells in the country and at seaside resorts.

Brittain's love of Holtby, while never sexual, grew increasingly intense until 1935, when Holtby died of Bright's disease, shortly after the suicide of Brittain's father. Only Holtby, by then a recognized novelist and critic, had understood Brittain's inner vulnerability as well as her need for both strong support and sharp criticism. The following year, Brittain saw Holtby's most admired novel, South Riding, to press and commemorated her in her own book, Testament of Friendship, in 1940. She also fell in love with George Brett, her American publisher who was already married. Although Brittain and Brett probably never had an affair, they remained close friends.

Ever since the Great War, Brittain had been writing prodigiously. Two books of poems were published: Verses of a V.A.D. (1918) and Poemsof the War and After (1934). She wrote a novel, The Dark Tide (1923), based on her memories of Somerville, which was so critical of the college that it was banned from the senior common room. Another novel, Not Without Honour (1924), was drawn from the life of a local curate, Joseph Henry Ward, whom she idolized as an adolescent; it told of an idealistic Anglican priest who lost his faith in Christian orthodoxy.

Brittain's literary efforts met with indifferent success until the appearance of Testament of Youth (1933), which offered the first account of the agonies of WWI as seen through the eyes of a woman. Her combination of autobiography, poetry, and diary excerpts ably conveyed the anxieties of her entire generation, and suddenly she became lionized by much of the general public as well as the world of letters. She later wrote, "By enabling me to set down the sorrows of the First War and thus remove their bitterness, Testament of Youth became the final instrument of a return to life from the abyss of emotional death." Now famous, she made three lecture tours to the United States, in 1934, 1937 (described in her Thrice a Stranger), and 1940.

Brittain's next major book tells her story again, this time in fictionalized form. An Honorable Estate (1936) is a roman à clef in which a young nurse falls in love with a "very tall, blackhaired" soldier who soon dies in battle. Other characters are a 19-year-old feminist, married to a much older Anglican priest, who commits suicide in sheer frustration with her empty life, both of whom were modeled on Catlin's parents.

In the spring of 1936, Brittain traveled with Catlin to France and Germany, and personally heard Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering address fanatical crowds, instilling her with a strong antipathy toward fascism. Speaking that summer at a large outdoor peace rally in Dorchester, she reached what she called "a turning point in my life" when she became a pacifist. She was strongly influenced by Dick (H.R.L.) Sheppard, canon of St. Paul's Cathedral, and by Bertrand Russell's tract Which Way to Peace? (1936). It was Sheppard's influence that caused her to become a practicing Anglican, though in matters of social action she always felt closer to the Quakers.

Early in 1937, Brittain became a sponsor of Sheppard's Peace Pledge Union (PPU), the leading British pacifist organization, and spoke widely at its meetings. She strongly endorsed the Munich agreement, seeing it as necessary to prevent another world conflict. When the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of August 23, 1939, was signed, she wrote that the Soviets sought to "set Middle and Western Europe by the ears," then "to step in when both sides are exhausted and create revolutions in all the countries involved."

During World War II, Brittain's pacifism was stronger than ever. She wrote on May 23, 1940:

The present catastrophe has arisen, not from the application of pacifism, but from the total failure of statesmen in all countries to practice its principles when their acceptance was a political possibility. Far from pacifist doctrine being proved wrong, the present calamity demonstrates its correctness.

Brittain's bulletin, "Letters to Peace Lovers," was first published weekly, then fortnightly. It totaled 175 issues and reached 2,000 subscribers. In her graphic account of the bombing of London and the Midlands, England's Hour (1941), she wrote, "If we do not learn to forgive, this nation has already lost the peace; and if it loses yet another peace, the war of 1965 will annihilate our children and our London too." Another book, Humiliation with Honour, published in 1942, defended her position in the form of letters to her 15-year-old son. In 1945, along with Catlin and Sheila Hodges , an editor at Gollancz publishers, Brittain edited Above All Nations. The subtitle of the anthology aptly reveals the contents: "Acts of kindness done to enemies, in the war, by men of many nations."

Until May 1940, Brittain advocated a peace with Germany. Once the blitz began, however, she found negotiation infeasible. Now, with the advent of total war, she said she must concentrate on curbing "the flood of hatred" and alleviating the suffering of the innocent. Still, she opposed unconditional surrender, believing it would harden Axis resistance while making the conflict more brutal. On December 9, 1942, she confided to her diary: "How tired I am of this country fighting the Germans (who are so efficient & thorough)—I am sure that the future peace of Europe depends on our ability to be friends with them—& upon little else." Yet, she linked her desire for an immediate truce to the plight of Europe's Jews, saying two days later, "Degree to which Jewish suffering has been extended by war is immeasurable; the worst peace would not have caused one-tenth of it."

Brittain's pamphlets addressed specific wartime issues. "The Higher Retribution" (1942) opposed the policy of revenge she saw propounded by diplomat Lord Vansittart. "We can safely leave the war's criminals … to the Almighty," she wrote, "who has claimed vengeance as his." In "Seeds of Chaos" (1944), she severely criticized the saturation bombing of German cities. At one point, she commented, "It is not Hitler upon whom our bombs fall. Our air-raids, like his, wreck humble homes and decimate families living in the East Ends of industrial cities, or close to the dockyards of naval and commercial ports." The pamphlet was endorsed by 28 American Protestant leaders, including Harry Emerson Fosdick of New York's Riverside Church. Her short treatise, "One of These Little Ones" (1943), strongly attacked the Allied blockade. As chair of the PPU's Food Relief Campaign, she hoped that small quantities of special food might reach the innocent civilians of Nazi-occupied Europe, particularly those of Greece and France. Thanks in part to such efforts, the government authorized a thousand tons of food to Greece each month.

Being a pacifist in wartime was not easy. By the spring of 1940, Brittain was subject to police surveillance, saw two vigilante efforts to burn down her office, and along with her husband received a murder threat from an army major. The British government would not allow her to visit the U.S. (where her children had been sent for war refuge), India (whose nationalist cause she strongly endorsed), and Sweden (where she had been asked to lecture). At the same time, Brittain was on the Gestapo round-up list, to be interred as soon as Hitler conquered England.

During the war, Brittain was thwarted in efforts to write biographies of Labour Party leader George Lansbury and aviator Amy Johnson . She did write a novel, Account Rendered (1944), which told how a sensitive young musician, shell-shocked during World War I, later killed his spouse in a fit of madness. The story was based on the life of Leonard Lockhart, a battle-fatigued physician who in 1939 murdered his beloved wife in a fit of amnesia. As the work graphically showed the brutalizing effects of modern combat, its pacifist message was easy to detect.

As the war came to an end, Brittain hoped for an accommodation with the Soviet Union. Conceding that "several unhappy countries and peoples" under Russian control might face "a period of persecution," she was still optimistic. When such tyrannies lacked an effective opponent, she said, they were "apt to undergo a gradual process of self-modification." Moreover, Russia would be too occupied with reconstruction to make war "on any neighbor who does not actually threaten her." From 1949 to 1951, she was president of PPU. She also was a vice president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and in 1964 wrote a popularized account of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

After the war, Brittain's work was more diverse. Her pacifism found a new manifestation in her last novel, Born 1925 (1948), which dealt with the generational conflict between a peace-loving father and a son who enlists in World War II. Her life of John Bunyan (1950) analyzed the Puritan author's major works while ably capturing the spirit of religious life in the age of Charles II. Another biography was published in 1963, the life of Frederick (Lord) Pethick-Lawrence, prominent Labourite minister and reformer. In 1967, she updated her memoirs with Testament of Experience, which carried her story down to 1945.

Two of Brittain's books centered on a nation with which she felt a special affinity: India. One, Search after Sunrise (1951), dealt with India in the immediate aftermath of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination. The other, Envoy Extraordinary (1966), focused admiringly on Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit , prominent diplomat and sister of Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Two more Brittain books covered another favorite topic: feminism. Lady into Woman (1953) is a chronological report of women's rights from Victoria to Elizabeth II , rich in statistics. Women at Oxford (1960) narrates the struggle for female equality there. Brittain's last book, Radclyffe Hall : A Case of Obscenity? (1968), involves a defense of Hall's novel The Well of Loneliness (1928), a sympathetic portrayal of lesbianism. After her death, three volumes of Brittain's diary were published, as well as a book of political essays by Brittain and Holtby.

Slight in physique and only five feet tall, Brittain had a reticent personality that conveyed great dignity. In print, all reserve vanished. She was a tireless writer, who often put in ten hours a day on her work. Though her prose could be wordy, her narrative stocked with irrelevant detail, and her thought frustratingly diffuse, at her best she was an extremely sensitive observer and a master of English prose. She will always be remembered as a truly great chronicler of the generation that came of age in World War I and as a courageous defender of pacifism. On March 29, 1970, Vera Brittain died in London.


Bailey, Hilary. Vera Brittain. Middlesex: Penguin, 1987.

Berry, Paul, and Mark Bostridge. Vera Brittain: A Life. London: Chatto and Windus, 1995.

Brittain, Vera. Testament of Youth: An Autobiographical Study of the Years 1900–1925. London: Gollancz, 1933 (NY: Macmillan).

——. Testament of Experience: An Autobiographical Story of the Years 1925–1950. London: Gollancz, 1957 (NY: Macmillan).

——. Chronicle of Youth: War Diary, 1913–1917. (ed. by Alan Bishop with Terry Smart). London: Gollancz, 1981 (NY: William Morrow, 1982).

——. Chronicle of Friendship: Diary of the Thirties, 1932– 1939. Ed. by Alan Bishop. London: Gollancz, 1986.

——. Wartime Chronicle: Vera Brittain's Diary, 1939–1945. Ed. by Alan Bishop and Y. Aleksandra Bennett. London: Gollancz, 1989.

suggested reading:

Brittain, Vera. Testament of Friendship: The Story of Winifred Holtby. London: Macmillan, 1940 (NY: Macmillan). Catlin, Sir George. For God's Sake, Go!: An Autobiography. Gerards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1972.

related media:

"Testament of Youth" (five-part television series, each one hour), fictionalized account starring Cheryl Campbell, Jane Wenhan , Emrys James, Rupert Frazer, and Peter Woodward; script by Elaine Morgan ; produced by Jonathan Powell; directed by Moira Armstrong , BBC, 1979.


The papers of Vera Brittain are located at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

Justus D. Doenecke , Professor of History, New College, University of South Florida, Sarasota, Florida

About this article

Brittain, Vera (1893–1970)

Updated About content Print Article