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  1. The Shock of War | History | Smithsonian
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  3. The whole truth about Van Gogh's ear, and why his 'mad genius' is a myth

The Shock of War | History | Smithsonian

My mother kept everything. Williams remembers her mother being anxious and occasionally over-protective, constantly worried that something dreadful would happen to her loved ones as it had done in the past. Williams rebelled against this as a teenager: "We'd just take off on our bicycles.


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My mother would say: 'Where are you going? It got better as she began to realise I was going to survive. Brittain, she says, was extremely shy in social situations and had "no sense of humour". I wonder if, at some level, the capacity for finding things funny had been battered out of her? Occasionally Winifred [Holtby, a lifelong friend and collaborator, and the author of South Riding ] could make her laugh, but Winifred was a radiant personality and someone who could enjoy life a lot of the time.

Her radiant happiness got across to my mother. The writing of Testament of Youth — and its success on publication — did not just affect Brittain herself. It had wider implications too. For one thing, her husband had to cope with reading his wife's impassioned reminiscence of her former love. Brittain and Roland Leighton had met for a total of only 17 days, and circumstances meant that much of their relationship had to be conducted by letter. According to Mark Bostridge, this meant that their fledgling romance was necessarily heightened: "By the end of it, they were looking at each other almost as fictional representations," he says.

Leighton emerges from the pages of Testament of Youth as a glamorous, heroic figure, an idealistic public schoolboy who was captain of the Officers' Training Corps at Uppingham School before signing up at the outbreak of war. He was killed at the age of 20 by a German sniper while repairing barbed wire on a moonlit night in a stretch of no man's land. Brittain never got over his loss.

With a dead person, who died at the peak of their youth, they become frozen in aspic. My father didn't try to compete.

He was a very understanding man. It helped, perhaps, that both Brittain and her husband were such committed pacifists and therefore had a common goal to work towards. When the second world war broke out, Brittain's critics accused her of collaborating with the Nazis because of her anti-war stance, and the sales of Testament of Youth dropped off. In fact, it later emerged that she was listed in the notorious Nazi "black book", which detailed notable people to be arrested in the event of a successful invasion of Britain by Hitler.

Still, her reputation as a writer never regained the popularity it had enjoyed when Testament of Youth was first published. There were further blows to be suffered. Brittain's father, unable to recover from his son's death, committed suicide by jumping into the Thames in In the same year, Winifred Holtby, who lived with the family in Chelsea and who had become the children's surrogate aunt, died of Bright's disease.

It has often been assumed that Holtby and Brittain were lesbians because of their unconventional living arrangement. But in many ways, it was simply that Holtby was able to provide the supportive companionship Brittain had once so valued in her beloved elder brother, Edward. The gossip about their sexuality was, Williams writes in her autobiography, "deeply resented" by Brittain, who believed it was "a form of anti-feminism to the effect that women could never be real friends unless there was a sexual motivation, while the friendships of men had been celebrated in literature from classical times".

The deaths of her father and her closest friend forced Brittain once again to shoulder the weight of tragedy. She poured her energy into campaigning against apartheid, colonialism and nuclear proliferation. Her political activism had a lasting impact on her daughter. In , Williams led the opposition in the House of Lords to the invasion of Iraq: "My mother would have felt, like me, that Iraq was a huge mistake… She never ceased being a pacifist.

She never gave up on that at all. At the same time, Brittain believed keenly that she had not fulfilled her ambitions to be a great novelist.

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Nicholas Eden-Green, whose mother Winifred was Brittain's secretary for more than 20 years, recalls that by the mids: "I got the feeling that Vera Brittain had grown a bit, not sour exactly, but saddened by the fact that she wasn't the popular figure she once was. I think she felt she didn't get the recognition she wished.

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In , Richards ventured into electronic publishing through his own publishing company, Braxiatek. His novel The Skeleton Clock was made available later that year in electronic formats only for the Amazon Kindle and for other Ebook readers. Each story has a parallel subplot set in the s, where Art's grandson, also named Art, and his friend Sarah have related mysteries to solve. A series of books which chronicle the adventures of schoolboy Jamie Grant who falls through a time break and becomes a Runner along with the mysterious Anna, with power to control time and a duty to protect it from malign interference by the sinister Darkling Midnight.

A supernatural horror series, described by the publisher as "perfect for readers not yet old enough for Darren Shan ". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the British writer. For the footballer, see Justin Richards footballer. Richards in the garden of his house in Warwickshire.


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The whole truth about Van Gogh's ear, and why his 'mad genius' is a myth

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