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Topic: A book of letters written in England during World War II?

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Subject: A book of letters written in England during World War II?
Date Posted: 10/6/2008 1:00 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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I am looking for a (a non-fiction)book that is a collection of letters written in England during/after World War II, preferably by citizens, not soldiers. I'm not sure if one even exists, but if it does, I'd like to read one.

Anyone know of something like this?

Thanks in advance!

Last Edited on: 10/6/08 1:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/6/2008 2:53 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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Dearest Ones by Rosemary Norfolk [ISBN 0471320498]. These are the letters of Rosemary Langheldt, the author's mother, who was sent to England during WWII as a Red Cross volunteer. I guess she falls between citizen and soldier. It is on Mt. TBR and I haven't read it yet, but it looks very good. Good luck and I will be watching this discussion because I too would be interested in letters written in England during/after the War.

It's not quite the same as letters but I can highly recommend Mrs. Milburn's Diaries: An Englishwoman's Day-to-Day Reflections 1939-45 by Clara Milburn, edited by Peter Donnelly [ISBN 0245534601]. She was a housewife living outside of Coventry, which received heavy bombing during the war, her son was a POW in Germany after being captured at Dunkirk. It is a fascinating read, and I have read it repeatedly through the years and enjoyed it every single time. As it says on the dust jacket "Nowhere has civilian life in wartime Britain been chronicled more evocatively than in these day-to-day reports and reflection." And I agree.

Other WWII English diaries: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of "Housewife, 49" :: Nella Last, Richard Broad (Editor), Suzie Fleming (Editor)

Betty's Wartime Diary: 1939-1945 :: Edited by Nicholas Webley

Haven't read either of those since they are on my wishlist, but some suggestions...

Date Posted: 10/8/2008 3:47 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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I don't know the name of this book but several years ago I read a book containing letters from the Duchess of Windsor (before her marriage to the Duke--also before the was the Duke) to him.  It was very interesting.  Or, now that I think about it, it may have been the other way around--from him to her.  This memory failure of what I read is why I know subscribe the the Book Journal and make notes about every book that I read!

Date Posted: 10/12/2008 1:47 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2008
Posts: 87
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The Library of Congress subject heading that best describes what you're looking for is World War, 1939-1945--Great Britain--Correspondence.

I tried searching on it in the L of C catalog (because it's big) and didn't find anything, but then I tried the catalog of the British Library (which also uses LC subject headings, by the way), and found 43 books under it.  From the other subject headings applied, most of them appeared to be by soldiers, with a big chunk by soldiers and their sweethearts, which I thought might be more interesting to you.  Also, there's one by women welders, and one by George Orwell, who was involved in the war effort but not a soldier.  I listed these below, along with a couple I couldn't determine much about, but you might try searching your own library, if it is of any size (and who knows what can turn up even in a small library).  Because these title are from the British Library, I suggest that if you try to find any of them stateside, that you search by author--the same book may have been published in the U.S. under a different title.

I may have to try to find Dear Laughing Motorbyke myself--what could that title refer to?!

Letters to Lamar / Win Wyatt

Joy Street : a wartime romance in letters / Mirren Barford and Jock Lewes ; ed. by Michael T. Wise

From Betty with love : a love story of the Second World War

A flower of the forest / Jean Keston

Entertaining Eric : a wartime love story / Maureen Wells

Dear laughing motorbyke : letters from women welders of the Second World War / edited by Margaretta Jolly

A bookseller's war / Heywood and Anne Hill ; ed. by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy

All propaganda is lies, 1941-1942 / George Orwell ; ed. by Peter Davison

Last Edited on: 10/12/08 1:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/13/2008 12:04 AM ET
Member Since: 6/3/2008
Posts: 46
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Well, it's up that alley, but I'm not sure if it's exactly what you're looking for.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

It's told in the form of letters between an author in post-war England and the townsfolk of the Island of Guernsey, which was occupied by the Nazi's during the war.  it's a delightful story, taking a very serious topic and making it light and interesting to read.  I would definitely recommend it!



Date Posted: 10/13/2008 11:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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Gimi- I loved the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. In fact, it's the book that sparked my interest in looking for a book of letters written during WWII. It was a delightful book.


Thanks to everyone else who gave suggestions, quite a few seem to be interestingand I've put them on my list of books to look for.

Date Posted: 10/24/2008 8:33 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 118
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I have a book on my bookshelf that is the true story of war brides and their adaptation to life in the US.

War Brides of World War II
Elfrieda Berthiaume Shukert, Barbara Smith Scibetta

Date Posted: 10/24/2008 10:54 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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Thank you so much for these recommendations. I have lots of books about the domestic side of WWII. It's one of my favorite eras to read about.

These are letters but:

Mrs. Miniver,

Goodnight Mr Tom

Carries' War

Date Posted: 10/24/2008 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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Kathleen, Thanks for posting about your War Brides book which I have just requested from you -- I have read lots of war bride fiction, and it will be fascinating to read the real story!

And JK, I agree 100% with your mention of Goodnight Mr. Tom -- a wonderful book about the British homefront, and there was also a BBC production of it which appeared on Masterpiece Theatre -- I have the vcr tape of it, by now it is probably available on dvd too, and it is something I have repeatedly watched. Goodnight Mr. Tom, by Michelle Magorian, is actually a YA book and I highly recommend it for children AND adults!