Biography Of Vera Brittain
Short Bio Vera Brittain (1893-1970)
Vera Brittain was an English writer as well as a feminist and pacifist who published the best-selling ” Testament of Youth” which was an account of her traumatizing experience during her time in the First World War.
Vera Brittain was born on 29 December 1893 in Newcastle to a family of wealth that owned mills for paper. After completing her boarder academy located in Kingswood, Surrey, she attended Somerville College, Oxford University to learn English Literature.
In 1915, she took a break off from her studies to serve as a nurse in a hospital in France aiding wounded soldiers on The Western Front. The war was a devastating experience. Her partner Roland Leighton, two close friends, as well as the sister Edward Brittain were all killed during the war.
She narrated the experiences she had as a nurse through her autobiography “Testament of Youth”. Vera describes how nurses were young and worked for long hours in a variety of conditions. Despite the hardships, Vera recounts how she performed her work with enthusiasm
“Far from blaming our Olympian colleagues, we took on the daily tasks with devotional enthusiasm, which is very rare among young women …”
” Testament of Youth p186
But, she later relates her experiences during the war. her initial optimism faded as she became aware of the realities of the war. For instance, she recalls soldiers recounting how German soldiers and British soldiers came to an informal peace treaty, in which they tried to avoid shooting each one another in no-man’s-land. When a smug officer walked in and ordered the soldiers to use machine guns against the Germans. This was one of the incidents that led to Vera’s consciousness that war crimes weren’t the sole responsibility of the Germans (as was reported by British media of the day claimed).
While she was able to accept the poor pay as well as the long hours and tough working conditions, Vera admits to being amazed by the situation of some injured men. She was a bit hesitant to assist men who were severely injured.
“…Although it was the very first bandage I helped the leg wound – a gangrenous one slimy, green, and scarlet as well as the bone being laid naked, made me sick and made me faint for a short time.”
Biography Of Vera Brittain
“Test of Youth” Testament of Youth
Vera was also aware of the important role women played during the conflict. This is the very first time that women were recognized in a variety of areas of work that had previously been reserved for men. In many ways, the contributions of women in the effort to fight the war were essential in advancing the cause of women’s vote. At times, she thought that the role of women during the war was not adequately acknowledged.
“Kingsley’s notion that men must work while women weep, no matter how untrue it is appears to be in a sense quite plausible at the moment.”
A letter for Roland Leighton, 17th April 1915
Following The war ended, Vera returned to Oxford to complete her education; However, she was unable to adapt to the normal routine of life and was often reminded of the stark difference between her wartime experiences and the life of peacetime.
In 1925, she married George Catlin, a political scientist, and philosopher. Their son John and a daughter, Shirley Williams (who became Labour cabinet minister).
Her debut novel, published in 1923 was the Dark Tide. Her most popular novel Testament of Youth was released in 1933 and written by Victor Gollancz. The book was released amid the backdrop of increasing political tensions, which made her story more attention from the political world.
In the 1920s were when she was an official speaker of the 1920s for League of Nations Society as well. She was shocked by the fact that the League could not deal with the problems that came up during the 30s. By the end of the 1930s, she had been drawn to a pacifist view and pledged herself to it. The Anglican Pacifist Fellowship and the Peace Pledge Union.
“All a pacifist could do – but it’s not an extremely important thing- is refusing to hurt, kill, or cause pain to any other creature on earth and, without a break, to govern his life by the principles of love even when others might be enslaved by hatred.”
What can we do in Wartime? In Forward (Scotland September 9, 1939)
In in the Second World War, she was a tour guide in the Second World War, and traveled across America at a time it was a time when the US was neutral. In England, she took part in the Peace Pledge Food Relief Campaign of the Union and was also an official fire marshal. Vera was also vocal about the saturation bombing by the Allies in German cities. In 1944 she published a pamphlet that called for a Massacre caused by Bombing. She was widely criticized for her views however, following during the conflict, the sanity of carpet bombing was frequently challenged. Her name was mentioned in the Nazi’s black book that contained 2000 individuals who were to be detained immediately in Britain in the aftermath of a German invasion.
She passed away in Wimbledon on March 29, 1970, aged 76. According to her wishes, her daughter Shirley scattered her ashes over her brother Edward’s burial site in Italy.
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