Nella Last in the 1950s: The Further Diaries of Housewife, 49

Overview

'I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person ... can possibly have value.' So wrote Nella Last in her diary on 2 September 1949. Sixty years on, tens of thousands of people have read and enjoyed the first two volumes of her uniquely detailed and moving diaries, written during World War II and its aftermath as part of the Mass Observation project, and the basis for BAFTA-winning drama Housewife 49 starring Victoria Wood (with a follow-up under discussion)....

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Nella Last in the 1950s: Further diaries of Housewife, 49

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Overview

'I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person ... can possibly have value.' So wrote Nella Last in her diary on 2 September 1949. Sixty years on, tens of thousands of people have read and enjoyed the first two volumes of her uniquely detailed and moving diaries, written during World War II and its aftermath as part of the Mass Observation project, and the basis for BAFTA-winning drama Housewife 49 starring Victoria Wood (with a follow-up under discussion).

This third compelling volume sees Nella, now in her sixties, writing of what ordinary people felt during those years of growing prosperity in a modernising Britain. Her diary offers a detailed, moving and humorous narrative of daily life at a time that shaped the society we live in today. It is an account that's full of surprises as we learn more about her relationship with 'my husband' (never 'Will') and her fears of nuclear war. Outwardly Nella's life was commonplace; but behind this mask were a penetrating mind and a lively pen. As David Kynaston said on Radio 4, she 'will come to be seen as one of the major twentieth century English diarists.'

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781846683503
  • Publisher: Profile Books Limited
  • Publication date: 11/16/2010
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 711,043
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Malcolmson is Professor Emeritus of history at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada. Patricia Malcolmson is a historian and a former executive in the Ontario public service. They live in Cobourg, Ontario.

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Table of Contents

Map: Nella's Cumbria vii

Introduction ix

Nella Last's Family, Friends, Neighbours and Associates xiv

Chapter 1 Troubles and Trials: January-February 1950 1

Chapter 2 Public and Private: February-April 1950 31

Chapter 3 Snapshots of Society: May-August 1950 61

Chapter 4 Fragilities and Familiarities: September-December 1950 96

Chapter 5 Getting By, Getting On: December 1950-May 1951 128

Chapter 6 Summer and Sons Return: May-August 1951 163

Chapter 7 Comings, Goings and Public Affairs: September-December 1951 190

Chapter 8 Times Change: January-July 1952 224

Afterword July 1952-December 1953 265

February 1953: Helping the Victims of Floods 272

Glossary 280

Money and Its Value 284

Chronology 285

Editing Nella Last's Diary 288

Mass Observation 291

Acknowledgements 295

List of Illustrations 297

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A terrific compilation by one of the best twentieth century diarists.

    This is a follow-up to the previous two segments (Nella Last in War and Nella Last in Peace; neither read by me) with a third diary entry by Nella Last in Mass Observation (established in 1937 as a sociology look from within Britain at its people). The almost daily keen observations continue the remarkable detailed look at a changing British society; this time from 1950 through 1954. With WWII and peace past as the Cold War begins in earnest but seemingly far away from the isles though she fears nuclear war, Nella looks more at her self and her family than at the larger impacts on British society as she did in her first two volumes. She no longer works full time for the Women's Volunteer Service though she still socializes with friends from her days at WVS. Her husband Will is depressed as he was forced to retire. She deals with Will alone as their sons left Barrow in Furness then in Lancashire; Arthur moves his family to Northern Ireland and Cliff is a sculptor in Australia. Thus her "You come a long way baby" lifestyle during and just after the war is greatly diminished by her caring for Will in a shipbuilding town with not a lot to do. Still using humor and self deprecating wit, she provides plenty of insight into the family life of empty nesters in early 1950s Britain. The third and apparently final entries of the Nella Last commentaries are a terrific compilation by one of the best twentieth century diarists.

    Harriet Klausner

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