Vera Brittain: A Life

Vera Brittain: A Life

by Paul Berry, Mark Bostridge

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Library Journal - Library Journal
Brittain (1893-1970) was an English feminist and pacifist with some 20 books to her credit. She is remembered for a single book, however, Testament of Youth (1933). This famous autobiography covers the author's service as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse during World War I. Brittain lost her only brother, her fianc, and two close friends in the war, and she credited the experience with turning her into a pacifist. Vera Brittain: A Life is a thorough biography that offers a comprehensive picture of its subject. Written by two authors who knew Brittain and her family, the work discusses her personal life, university education, war experiences, and later civilian career as a writer and lecturer. We learn about her great friendship with the writer Winifred Holtby, Brittain's marriage to political scientist George Catlin, and the pleasure she took in motherhood as well as the courageous pacifist stance she adhered to during World War II, which damaged her career as a writer. Vera Brittain: A Feminist Life is a well-written study that concentrates on its subject's commitment to feminism. Gorham, a Canadian academic, argues that Brittain's feminism was the "central organizing principle of her personality." The author uses feminist theory and scholarship in a sensible, evenhanded way to illuminate Brittain's life against the backdrop of English society in the first half of the 20th century. (Gorham rejects, for example, the argument put forth by some feminist scholars that the relationship between Brittain and Winifred Holtby was lesbian in a "broader," nonerotic sense.) Both works provide a full portrait of an important 20th-century feminist and pacifist and are recommended for public libraries.Caroline A. Mitchell, Washington, D.C.

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Northeastern University Press
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.22(h) x 1.76(d)

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