Vera Brittain

Standard Name: Brittain, Vera
Birth Name: Vera Mary Brittain
From her university days before the First World War, VB was determined to be a writer. Her career as a novelist never fulfilled her own expectations; it was not until the publication of Testament of Youth, the first of her volumes combining autobiography with social and cultural history, that she achieved significant success. She also wrote both poetry and pamphlets. Much of her oeuvre is politically engaged, from her feminist journalism and social criticism of the 1920s to her pacifist writings of World War II.


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Education Margaret Kennedy
With the onset of war, the town had largely been emptied of male students, making women a more visible presence around the university. Somerville had a tradition of turning out successful women writers; in entering...
Education Winifred Holtby
During both halves of her time at Oxford she dashed around on a very rusty cycle, cramming myriad activities into her schedule: lectures, tea parties, concerts, lacrosse matches, and meetings. I was born with a...
Education Doreen Wallace
At Somerville DW became a close friend of Dorothy Sayers (their religious and political disagreements later drove them apart) and in her circle met Vera Brittain , Winifred Holtby , and theSitwells .
Leonardi, Susan J. Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists. Rutgers University Press.
Education Dorothy L. Sayers
She earned first-class Honours, though as a woman she was not yet allowed to take a degree. While at Oxford she met Vera Brittain , who liked her on sight. She dressed flamboyantly and eccentrically...
Family and Intimate relationships Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence
EPL greatly admired Mark Guy Pearse , an evangelical Christian socialist who co-founded the West London Mission . She had known him since her childhood, and he became a second father to her.
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray et al., editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Pearse supported...
Family and Intimate relationships Winifred Holtby
During her first year back at Oxford, WH met Vera Brittain , who was also returning to complete her degree.
Berry, Paul, and Mark Bostridge. Vera Brittain: A Life. Chatto and Windus.
After a difficult beginning (they disliked each other at first sight), they became lifelong...
Family and Intimate relationships Winifred Holtby
Vera Brittain , who had believed and encouraged others to believe that WH was in love with Harry Pearson , got another male friend to propose to Holtby on her deathbed, so that she might...
Family and Intimate relationships Storm Jameson
While he studied at the London School of Economics, Jameson supported their household, sometimes taking on more commercial work rather than devoting herself to further intellectual experiment. In their biography of Vera Brittain ,...
Friends, Associates Evelyn Sharp
Their many shared friends included Vera Brittain , Winifred Holtby , and the writer and politician Mary Agnes Hamilton . In 1940 Hamilton took Harry Gill , president of the Railway Clerks' Association and a...
Friends, Associates Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence
During her stay in India, EPL met the poet Rabindranath Tagore .
Pethick-Lawrence, Emmeline. My Part in a Changing World. Hyperion.
Back in England, she contacted Vera Brittain after having read Brittain's Testament of Youth, 1933, to invite Brittain to visit the...
Friends, Associates Elizabeth Jenkins
EJ was mildly satirical about the left-wing and anti-monarchical tendencies of Naomi Mitchison (a well-known author of the times)
Jenkins, Elizabeth. The View from Downshire Hill. Michael Johnson.
and the allegedly somewhat self-important Vera Brittain (who, felt Jenkins, had let the...
Friends, Associates Stella Benson
This summer she spent a holiday at Varengeville in Normandy, with Naomi Mitchison . She also met Sydney Schiff (at Chesham in Buckinghamshire), and on 31 August 1925 had her first meeting with...
Friends, Associates Annie S. Swan
During the 1930s ASS became a friend and correspondent of Winifred Holtby . They exchanged copies of their books. After Holtby's early death a correspondence developed between ASS and Vera Brittain .
Swan, Annie S. The Letters of Annie S. Swan. Editor Nicoll, Mildred Robertson, Hodder and Stoughton.
164-5, 171, 249
Friends, Associates Phyllis Bentley
PB stayed with Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby at the house in Glebe Place in Chelsea where they and Brittain's husband, George Catlin , all lived.
Bentley, Phyllis. "O Dreams, O Destinations". Gollancz.
Brittain, Vera. Chronicle of Friendship. Editor Bishop, Alan, Gollancz.
38, 56
Friends, Associates Storm Jameson
SJ wrote to Vera Brittain (who had recently reviewed her), thereby initiating a close friendship which, however, was neither wholly relaxed nor in the long run lasting. Jameson and Winifred Holtby , both Yorkshirewomen, more...


14 May 1920: Time and Tide began publication, offering...

Building item

14 May 1920

Time and Tide began publication, offering a feminist approach to literature, politics, and the arts: Naomi Mitchison called it the first avowedly feminist literary journal with any class, in some ways ahead of its time.
Mitchison, Naomi. You May Well Ask: A Memoir 1920-1940. Gollancz.

14 October 1920: A week after the university statutes had...

National or international item

14 October 1920

A week after the university statutes had finally made women eligible for degrees, women graduates of Oxford gathered for the belated award of degrees which they had earned, most of them, years before.

May 1922: Madeline Linford launched the Manchester...

Building item

May 1922

Madeline Linford launched the Manchester Guardianwomen's page, which she produced on her own, with no editorial assistant. It was temporarily suspended during the Second World War.

24 February 1934: The National Council for Civil Liberties...

National or international item

24 February 1934

The National Council for Civil Liberties was founded by journalist Ronald Kidd , who had witnessed the treatment of hunger marchers in London in November 1932.

7 March 1936: Hitler marched into and appropriated the...

National or international item

7 March 1936

Hitler marched into and appropriated the Rhineland: neither France nor Britain opposed him.

27 September 1939: Warsaw fell to Hitler's invading army after...

National or international item

27 September 1939

Warsaw fell to Hitler 's invading army after twenty days' siege and bombardment.

September 1943: The Women's Publicity Planning Association...

Building item

September 1943

The Women's Publicity Planning Association sponsored a mass meeting at Central Hall, Westminster, in support of the proposed Equal Citizenship (Blanket) Bill which would end all forms of sex discrimination.

6 August 1945: The US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima:...

National or international item

6 August 1945

The US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima: by early twenty-first century the best estimate of those killed on the spot stood at approaching 140,000 people, plus many thousands more with obvious, serious injury.

17 February 1958: CND, or the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,...

Building item

17 February 1958

CND, or the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament , was founded at a public meeting in London; it held its first march that spring, at the Easter weekend.

October 1958: Women Speaking began publication, covering...

Building item

October 1958

Women Speaking began publication, covering work, religion, education and peace from a feminist angle.

March 1981: Breakaway Labour members of parliament—Roy...

National or international item

March 1981

Breakaway Labour members of parliament—Roy Jenkins , Shirley Williams (daughter of Vera Brittain ), David Owen , and William Rodgers —left the party to found the Social Democratic Party, or SDP .

November 1981: Shirley Williams (daughter of Vera Brittain)...

Women writers item

November 1981

Shirley Williams (daughter of Vera Brittain ) became the first member of the Gang of Four, leaders of the newly-founded Social Democratic Party , to win a seat in Parliament : for Crosby, Lancashire.

December 1982: Women Speaking, covering work, religion,...

Building item

December 1982

Women Speaking, covering work, religion, education and peace from a feminist angle, ended publication in London.


Brittain, Vera. "One of These Little Ones. . .": A Plea to Parents and Others for Europe’s Children. Andrew Dakers, 1943.
Catlin, Sir George Edward Gordon et al. Above All Nations. V. Gollancz, 1945.
Brittain, Vera. Account Rendered. Macmillan, 1945.
Brittain, Vera. Born 1925. Macmillan, 1948.
Brittain, Vera. Chronicle of Friendship. Editor Bishop, Alan, Gollancz, 1986.
Brittain, Vera. England’s Hour. Macmillan, 1941.
Holtby, Winifred. “Foreword”. Pavements at Anderby, edited by Hilda Stewart Reid and Vera Brittain, Collins, 1937, pp. 9-11.
Brittain, Vera. Halcyon. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1929.
Brittain, Vera. Honourable Estate. Gollancz, 1936.
Brittain, Vera. Humiliation with Honour. Andrew Dakers, 1942.
Eden-Green, Winifred, and Vera Brittain. “Introduction”. Testament of a Peace-Lover: Letters from Vera Brittain, edited by Winifred Eden-Green et al., Virago, 1988.
Brittain, Vera. Lady into Woman. Andrew Dakers, 1953.
Brittain, Vera. Not Without Honour. Grant Richards, 1924.
Holtby, Winifred. Pavements at Anderby. Editors Reid, Hilda Stewart and Vera Brittain, Collins, 1937.
Brittain, Vera. Pethick-Lawrence: A Portrait. George Allen and Unwin, 1963.
Brittain, Vera. Radclyffe Hall. Femina, 1968.
Brittain, Vera. Search After Sunrise. Macmillan, 1951.
Brittain, Vera. Seed of Chaos. The Bombing Restriction Committee, 1944.
Holtby, Winifred et al. Take Back Your Freedom. Editor Ginsbury, Norman, Jonathan Cape, 1939.
Brittain, Vera, and Winifred Holtby. Testament of a Generation. Editors Berry, Paul and Alan Bishop, Virago, 1985.
Brittain, Vera. Testament of a Peace-Lover: Letters from Vera Brittain. Editors Eden-Green, Winifred and Alan Eden-Green, Virago, 1988.
Brittain, Vera. Testament of Experience. Gollancz, 1957.
Brittain, Vera. Testament of Friendship. Macmillan, 1940.
Brittain, Vera, and Rosalind Delmar. Testament of Friendship. Virago, 1980.
Brittain, Vera. Testament of Youth. Gollancz, 1933.