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Vera Brittain

novelist, poet
Born: 1893
Birthplace: Newcastle under Lyme, England

The daughter of a wealthy paper manufacturer, Brittain dropped out of Somerville College at Oxford to work as a nurse's aide in Malta and near the Western Front during World War I. The war deeply affected Brittain, who lost her fiancé, brother, and two close friends to the conflict. She became a life-long pacifist, active with the Peace Pledge Union. Her best-known work, Testament of Youth (1933), is a memoir about the “lost generation” devastated by World War I. Her first novel, The Dark Tide (1923), an autobiographical account of a woman at Oxford, was criticized for its feminism. Other novels include Anderby Wold (1923) and South Riding (1936). In 1944 she wrote Seeds of Chaos, a pacifist criticism of World War II and the allied saturation bombing of Germany. Testament to Friendship (1940) is a memorial to her close friend, feminist academic Winifred Holtby. Another memoir, Testament of Experience (1957), covers 1925 to 1950. She also published a number of volumes of poetry. In 1981, Brittain's diaries were posthumously published as Chronicle of Youth. In 1925 she married political scientist George C. G. Catlin. They had a daughter, Shirley Williams, who was a Labor member of Parliament and served as education minister from 1976 to 1979.

Died: 3/29/1970

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