English Words in War-Time
‘12.45 a.m. put away my “English Words in War-Time” of which I was paging several volumes: put on shoes and great coat, & armlet. Took Special Constable’s warrant-ticket in my pocket; and sallied forth.’1 For Andrew Clark, as the preceding quotation from his diary suggests, war was to be a period of unremitting industry. Rector of the small parish of Great Leighs in Essex and, at fifty-eight, far too old to volunteer for active service, he ‘sallies forth’ not only as a ‘Special Constable’, but as a consummate historian of life on the home front. His war diary, initially headed ‘Echoes of the 1914 War in an Essex Village’, exists in ninety-two volumes (and some three million words) spanning August 1914 to December 1919.2 Like the ‘little bit of ivory (two inches wide)’ which Jane Austen chose to detail in her novels,3 Clark’s intellectual canvas was to be deliberately restricted in breadth if not in depth. As Munson (1985: xx) stresses, the diaries provide a ‘unique record’ based in the collective history of a small community in wartime Britain.
KeywordsEnglish Word Great Coat Evening News Oxford English Dictionary English Register
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