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Pair – To War with Whitaker & Nella Last’s War
Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, To War with Whitaker - Plain Foxed Edition
SFE No. 60: The Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49, Nella Last’s War
  • Dimensions: 110 x 170mm
  • Producer: Smith Settle
  • Genre: Memoir
  • Binding: Clothbound hardback
  • Trimmings: Coloured endpapers; silk ribbon, head- & tailband; gold blocking to spine; blind blocking to front

Pair – To War with Whitaker & Nella Last’s War

Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, Nella Last

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Wartime Diaries

Hermione Countess of Ranfurly, To War with Whitaker

Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly and her husband Dan had been married for less than a year when he was called up in September 1939. Their characterful cook-butler Whitaker volunteered to go with him, but Yeomanry rules decreed that though officers could take their servants to war they could not take their wives. Undeterred however, Hermione immediately set off for Egypt in pursuit. Between snatched reunions with Dan, who was eventually taken prisoner, she worked for SOE in Cairo and as personal assistant to General ‘Jumbo’ Wilson in Jerusalem, entertaining everyone who was anyone from King Farouk to Evelyn Waugh. This sparkling diary, which she kept at the end of long working days, is both a passionate love story and a unique behind-the-scenes picture of the war in the Middle East and Europe as seen by a very unconventional aristocrat.

Nella Last, Nella Last’s War

In 1937 the social research group Mass Observation set about creating a record of everyday life in Britain by recruiting 500 volunteer diarists. One of these was Nella Last, a housewife living in Barrow-in-Furness with a husband and two grown-up sons, one a trainee tax-inspector and the other in the army. So far, so seemingly ordinary, but there was nothing ordinary about Nella. Her account of life in wartime Britain is not only an unrivalled piece of social history but also the portrait of a woman you feel could have run the country, given half a chance.

Love, War and the Countess

I think it was my old friend the Evening Standard columnist Angus McGill who recommended Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly’s war diaries: Angus would have loved her unpretentious skill at conjuring up...

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An Extraordinary Ordinary Housewife

To her readers at the headquarters of the Mass Observation organization in London, she was merely a number (diarist 5353), an occupation (housewife), and an age (49). The labelling was bureaucratic...

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