When war broke out in 1914 conscription seemed unnecessary; there was no shortage of volunteers ready to lay down their lives for England. In this book Caroline Dakers explores exactly what 'England' meant to the men and women who fought, died, survived. She suggests that, with a little subliminal help from literature, art and propaganda, the British volunteer, whether factory worker, farm hand or public school boy, felt that he was fighting for a vision of 'old England' - village, church, meadow and carthorse, rather than city, factory, commerce and motor car. Drawing on a wide range of unpublished papers and family archives, Dakers recreates the world of the countryside at war, through chapters on agriculture (literally 'the home front'), and life and death in the manor house, vicarage, school and farm. And while all this was being fought for, the French countryside was being smashed into a quagmire. This is the most complete picture yet of the impact of the World War I on rural England; a war which, if only in the ubiquitous village war memorials, still reverberates today.
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About the Author
Caroline Dakers is Professor of Cultural History at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Her previous books include Clouds: The Biography of a Country House; The Holland Park Circle and A Genius for Money.
Table of Contents
Preface to Paperback Edition 1
1 Over by Christmas 21
2 Writers and Artists in the Countryside 47
3 In the Manor House 76
4 In the Village 105
5 On the Farm: The Fight for Food 130
6 In Foreign Fields 158
7 Aftermath: The Countryside at Peace 183