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August 1914: England in Peace and War by Mark Rowe (BA 1989)

27 September 2013

Diaries, letters and newspapers of the day tell of the watershed month when Britain went to war with Germany. In Bristol, for example, when crowds lined the streets to cheer the Territorials leaving their base on Whiteladies Road, a horse and cart lost control on Park Street and crushed a woman to death.

Diaries, letters and newspapers of the day tell of the watershed month when Britain went to war with Germany. In Bristol, for example, when crowds lined the streets to cheer the Territorials leaving their base on Whiteladies Road, a horse and cart lost control on Park Street and crushed a woman to death. 

Alongside names still familiar – Winston Churchill ordering people around, and George Bernard Shaw bathing naked in Derwentwater – are more ordinary people. Clifford Gothard, a University of Birmingham student of mechanical engineering, had to grow up fast when his father died one night in front of him. William Swift, a retired Gloucestershire schoolmaster, kept up his diary for a sixth decade. Lady Gwendoline Churchill (Winston’s sister-in-law) wrote beseeching letters to her husband and passed on top-class gossip.

The picture is of a disunited island of wildly different people who found themselves amid the greatest war the world had ever seen.   

You can purchase August 1914 in paperback for £11.99 via the publishers website, Chaplin Books.