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VERA BRITTAIN - WOMEN AND PEACE

 
 

Introduction

- vera and the ppu
- vera on women and peace
- ppu women's campaign
- vera at war for peace
- references


vera brittain selected text

- to mothers especially
- letters to peace lovers
- women must awake to
  save humanity

- women and pacifism
- methods of barbarism


Available
complete text, illustrations and additional material as pdf file

- short biography
- memorial



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Note on sources
'Vera Brittain and the Peace Pledge Union' is edited from a paper presented to the Conference on Women and Education for Peace and Nonviolence, Toronto, 29-30 September 1984. The full version of the paper is published in Ruth Pierson (ed), 'Women and Peace: Theoretical, Historical and Practical Perspectives' (London, Croom Helm, 1987)
'To Mothers Especially' was published as a PPU leaflet, 1937
'War-Time Letters to Peace Lovers' were published in a permanent form by the Peace Book Company, 1940. The first extract is dated 18 October 1939, and the second 14 December 1939
'Women Must Awaken to Save Humanity' appeared in 'Peace News', 15 December 1939
'Women and Pacifism' is the final part of 'Seed of Chaos: What Mass Bombing Really Means' (London, New Vision Publishing Co, 1944)





FOOTNOTES:
(1) Vera Brittain, 'How War Affects Women', lecture given at Rockford Women's Club, Rockford, Illinois, 20 November 1937
(2) Vera M Brittain, 'Testament of Youth. An Autobiographical Story of the Years 1900-1925' (London, Victor Gollancz, 1933)
(3) Vera Brittain, 'Were Women Meant to Have Brains?', 'Quiver', February 1935
(4) Vera Brittain, 'The War Generation: Ave', in 'Poems of the War and After' (London, Victor Gollancz, 1934)
(5) Vera Brittain, 'From War to Pacifism', published in 'Forward', 9 September 1939 under the title, 'What can we do in War Time? Work for a Sane Peace'
(6) Vera Brittain, 'Testament of Experience. An Autobiographical Story of the Years 1925-1950' (London, Victor Gollancz, 1957) See also Vera Brittain, 'The Things of Peace - 3', 'Reconciliation', March 1961 and Vera Brittain, 'No Compromise with War', 'World Review of Reviews', May 1937
(7) Vera Brittain, 'Women and Pacifism', 'Peace News', 15 August 1941
(8) Vera Brittain, 'Can the Women of the World Stop War?', 'Modern Woman', February 1934
(9) Vera Brittain, 'Women and Disarmament', 'Highway', February 1934
(10) Vera Brittain, 'Can the Women'
(11) Vera Brittain, 'Women and Disarmament'. Three years later Brittain was still concerned with the resignation of women - 'This apathy constitutes as great a threat as fascism'. Brittain, 'How War Affects Women'
(12) Vera Brittain, 'Women Still Wait for Equality', 'Daily Herald', 26 March 1938
(13) Vera Brittain, 'How War Affects Women'. See also 'Women and the Next War', 'British Legion Journal', April 1936
(14) Eleanor Rathbone, quoted in Brittain, 'How War Affects Women'. See also 'Women Must Awaken to Save Humanity!', 'Peace News', 15 December 1939
(15) See Vera Brittain, 'A Shadow Which Mothers Dread. Tell Your Children the Truth About War!', 'Yorkshire Evening News', 11 November 1936, and Vera Brittain 'To Mothers Especially', PPU leaflet, 1937
(16) Vera Brittain, 'Dissent by Demonstration', 'Nation', 21 March 1959
(17) Vera Brittain, 'Why Not a Real Peace Crusade?', published in a pamphlet, 'The Lighter Side of Peacemaking?', 'Quarterly News', 1934
(18) In 1961 a Committee of 100 demonstration in Trafalgar Square, London, in which Lord (Bertrand) Russell was to take part, had been banned by the police, but the protesters ignored the ban. The police cordoned off the Square to prevent others from joining those already sitting in. Vera Brittain, aged 68, was among those protesters who found their way blocked by the police and promptly sat down in the middle of the road, later to be gently carried away by police constables. Interview with Harry Mister (London), 22 December 1980
(19) In 1961, in a letter to 'The Times', Brittain wrote:
Sir, Lord Coleraine's disparaging comments on the Committee of 100 in your issue this morning recall the criticisms of the suffragette movement that I read in my schooldays. Mrs Pankhurst, the reviled leader of the 'screaming sisterhood', ended up with a statue in Westminster and Lord Russell will doubtless do the same.
(He did, in Red Lion Square!)
The sacrificial fervour of great idealistic crusades begins to capture public imagination and achieve its ends when it takes an active and 'dangerous' form. Not only the suffragette movement, but Mahatma Gandhi's civil disobedience campaign in India, bears witness to this uncomfortable historical fact.
Vera Brittain, 'Anti-nuclear Campaign', 'The Times', 19 September 1961
(20) H R L Sheppard, 'Women and Peace', 'New Statesman and Nation', 4 July 1936
(21) Vera Brittain, 'How War Affects Women'. The response was somewhat of a disappointment for Sheppard, who had frankly anticipated a far greater one
(22) Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex. MO Box 311b, File B, Pacifism Interviews
(23) 'Peace News', 6 October 1939
(24) 'Peace News', 20 October 1939
(25) 'Peace News', 27 October 1939
(26) John Barclay, 'War - A Challenge to Women', 'Peace News', 17 November 1939
(27) John Barclay, 'Women Accept the Challenge', 'Peace News', 24 November 1939
(28) John Barclay, 'Mobilizing the Women', 'Peace News', 1 December 1939
(29) 'Peace News', 1 December 1939
(30) 'Peace News', 8, 15 & 22 December 1939, and 12 January 1940. Vera Brittain, Sybil Thorndike, Ruth Fry and Mary Gamble were among the speakers in the Central Hall. Despite the ban, a number of women walked to the meeting in a poster parade from Waterloo Station
(31) 'Peace News', 9 February 1940 and 19 January 1940. Other centres planning activities were Cardiff, Croydon, Dartford, Eastleigh, Glasgow, Guildford, Hull, Leeds, Nottingham, Romford, Sheffield, Watford, Wembley
(32) Sybil Morrison, 'Where Women Marched', 'Peace News', 1 March 1940
(33) Sybil Morrison, 'Women's Peace Campaign Petition Launched', 'Peace News', 15 March 1940. Dorothy Evans, 'Why Must Our Boys Die? Women's Appeal to Governments', 'Peace News', 5 April 1940
(34) Sybil Morrison, 'Signing Them on For Peace', 'Peace News', 26 April 1940
(35) Mass Observation, Directive Replies (Women), October 1942
(36) 'Peace News', 21 June 1940
(37) The first column was written by a veteran Quaker pacifist, Ruth Fry and was entitled, 'War on the Home'. Fry wrote: 'As never before ... this war is directed against women, and they have a right and a duty to make known their opinion about it.' 'Peace News', 27 December 1940
(38) Charles Raven, 'Negotiation or Revolution?', 'Christian Pacifist', April 1941
(39) Alex Wood, 'Peace by Negotiation' (London, Peace Pledge Union, nd [probably between September 1941 and February 1942])
(40) Another problem may have been possible editorial opposition to the campaign on the part of 'Peace News' editor John Middleton Murry. Both Sybil Morrison and Vera Brittain frequently found themselves at odds with Murry and the coverage and space given to the Campaign in 'Peace News' would seem to suggest that Murry was not supportive. See Frank Lea, 'John Middleton Murry' (London, Methuen, 1959). Sybil Morrison corroborated Brittain's written opinion that Murry had a 'D H Lawrence inspired attitude toward women', agreeing that 'he had a frightful attitude'. Interview with Miss Sybil Morrison (London), 6 July 1979 and Correspondence, Vera Brittain to Andrew Dakers, 9 November 1942
(41) John Middleton Murry, 'Lublin', 'Peace News', 22 September 1944
(42) Surprising though it may seem, the principal reason for the lack of a pacifist response was utter incredulity; that man could commit such heinous crimes was beyond the comprehension of most pacifists
(43) Vera Brittain, 'Women and Pacifism', 'Peace News', 15 August 1941
(44) PRO CAB 75/7 HPC (40), 103, Memorandum on Anti-War Publications, 4 May 1940. See also CAB 73.3 CDC (40), 8, 'Home Front Propaganda', Memo by the Minister of Information, 3.3.40
(45) Vera Brittain, 'Humiliation with Honour' (London, Andrew Dakers, 1942)
(46) Vera Brittain, 'Seed of Chaos. What Mass Bombing Really Means' (London, New Vision Publishing Co, 1944)
(47) See George Orwell, 'The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell', Vol.3, 'As I Please 1943-1945', 179-81 and 213-15. Also Orwell in the 'Observer', 8 April 1945 and 'Tribune', 23 June 1944
(48) Brittain, 'Testament of Experience'. Also Brittain, 'Massacre by Bombing', 'Fellowship', 10 March 1944
(49) See for example: Vera Brittain, 'One of These Little Ones', (London, Andrew Dakers, 1943); 'Stop Bombing Civilians' (London, np, 1943); 'Vera Brittain Writes on How Shall the Christian Church Prepare for the New Order?' (London, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, nd [c. early 1942])
(50) One product of her travels was Brittain's 'England's Hour. An Autobiography 1939-1941 (London, Macmillan, 1941)
(51) PRO FO 371/24245, (January 1940). File: Visit of Miss Brittain to the United States of America
(52) Brittain, 'Testament of Experience', 172

 
         
     

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