Book and Film: Vera Brittain and the First World War


Vera Brittain and the First World War
The Story of Testament of Youth
By Mark Bostridge

Published by Bloomsbury
RRP $29.99 in paperback
ISBN 9781472918574

I noticed this book on my review bookshelf today and it reminded me that I mean to go and see the film, that is now on release.

In this book, Vera Brittain biographer Mark Bostridge tells the story of a remarkable woman and her extraordinary account of the destructive power of war.

In the midst of her studies at Oxford when war broke out across Europe, Vera Brittain left university in 1915 to become a V.A.D (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse, treating soldiers in London, Malta and Etaples in France.

The events of the First World War were to have an enormous impact on her life.

Four of Brittain’s closest friends including her fiancé Roland Leighton and her brother Edward Brittain MC were killed in action, sparking a lifelong commitment to pacifism.

In 1933 she published Testament of Youth, the first of three books dealing with her experience of war.

Mark Bostridge’s Vera Brittain and the First World War, published to coincide with the film of Testament of Youth, explores the effects of the First World War on Vera Brittain, both in terms of her personal life and in terms of its effect on her development as a writer and her eventual decision to become a pacifist. The interest generated by the film will no doubt bring her story to a new generation.

Be sure to read the Afterword for the author’s insights into how he came to write about Brittain and the search for answers to her brother’s death.

Link here to The Independent’s recent review and a trailer for the film.

View a trailer of the film:

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