Category Archives: History

Arnold Bennett, and the English and the French

I spent Saturday at the National Archives in Kew, taking a look at, among other things, Arnold Bennett’s activities when in charge of British propaganda to France in 1917-1918. Bennett’s notes and memos are rather impressive – crisp, sensible and decisive – as he deals with a multitude of issues.

Soldiers singing, at the end of the war

Last year I was working on a chapter about soldiers songs for the forthcoming Edinburgh Companion on the First World War and the Arts. Yesterday I came across a paragraph that I wish I’d seen before  finishing the chapter. It’s from the New Statesman, October 19, 1918:

The Oxford Vigilance Committee

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about Arnold Bennett’s novel about wartime prostitution, The Pretty Lady, so was delighted to come across a webpage referencing the November 1916 Oxford Vigilance Committee, and its report on the immorality of wartime Oxford. The committee sees prostitution as a ‘permanent social disease’, but the war is creating conditions […]

What soldiers shouldn’t read

I’ve read some good articles over the years about the reading habits of soldiers in France, and the literature supplied to them. What I hadn’t considered much before was what they were discouraged from reading. Here’s Arnold Bennett, writing in February 1919,  about the committee who ran the Camps Library, and made sure it did […]

An Officer’s Grievance

An anecdote from Arnold Bennett (New Statesman, December, 1918) The other day I met a British officer who had been wounded nine times, captured by the Germans while in a state of unconsciousness, and in England reported killed. He seemed to be perfectly well and perfectly cheerful. But one matter had aroused his resentment. It […]

Kipling the Spy

On Friday, November 20, 1914 the following story appeared in the Daily Mail:

‘Remembering 1916’

A blog reader alerts me to an exhibition in South London, which promises to be worth seeing. It is Remembering 1916: Life on the Western Front at the Whitgift Centre, Croydon. The website includes a fascinating photo gallery of artefacts, including the British gas helmet and rattle pictured here.  The rattle was used to sound  […]

‘Chocolate Munchers’

The First World War provided great opportunities for those whose pleasure in life was expressing disapproval of others. Here’s an article from the Daily Mail of 1917:

Tribunal exemptions

Browsing the Daily Mail for 1918, I was struck by this short report:

A centenary

On January 27th, 1916, conscription was introduced in Britain.  

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