Each generation rewrites history. My generation, the generation of grandchildren to veterans of the First World War, has been concerned to rediscover ‘the Great War’. This has resulted in both empirical research and imaginative re-creation, where ‘History’ has become indistinguishable from ‘fiction’. Perhaps the best example of this is John Harris’s novel, Covenant With Death (1961), the story of an imaginary battalion in Kitchener’s Army from its formation to its destruction at the Battle of the Somme. As Harris made clear, he based his story on an immense amount of reading and on conversations with the old men of the city where he lived. The authenticity of his vivid illumination of ‘the systematised murder we call war’ gained admiring tribute from the First World War historian, Leon Wolff. It was a novel with scarcely any women characters; women wait at home. Since the resurrection of the Women’s Movement in the late 1960s, there has grown up a special interest in the role of women in war. Amongst women there has also developed an interest in the way in which the Great War affected women and their self-consciousness.
KeywordsBritish Government Railway Carriage Conscientious Objector White Feather Woman Character
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