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Women and War Bundle
Christabel Bielenberg, The Past Is Myself - Slightly Foxed: Plain Foxed Edition
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
Katrin FitzHerbert, True to Both My Selves
  • 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

Women and War Bundle


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Christabel Bielenberg, The Past is Myself

In 1934, shortly after Hitler’s rise to power, Christabel Burton, a beautiful woman from an influential Anglo-Irish family, married a liberal young German lawyer, Peter Bielenberg, and they settled in Berlin. When Allied bombing made the city too dangerous she fled with their children to a small village in the Black Forest, where she experienced a very different society from the Nazi-dominated one she had left behind. The Past Is Myself is her surprising account of life in that ‘other Germany’, and of her own nail-biting encounter with the Nazi regime.

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.

Katrin FitzHerbert, True to Both My Selves

By the time she was 14 Katrin FitzHerbert had lived in nearly thirty different places and attended fourteen schools – an unusual childhood, and the more so because it gave her two separate identities, one formed in Hitler’s Germany, the other in post-war England. In True toBoth My Selves she tells the gripping story of her family, and of growing up as the child of a half-English mother and a German father, a man she idolized but who was a committed member of the Nazi Party. With great courage and honesty she describes how she moved from a childhood dedicated to Fascism to face her past and make the final choice ‘between England and Papa’.

Kindness of Strangers

‘If you get out now, Gnädige Frau, you can take the underground and you will be in the city in no time,’ said a fellow traveller to Christabel Bielenberg on a stationary train just outside...

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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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A Hybrid Life

By the time she was 14 and finally settled with her family in their own house in Totnes, Devon, Katrin FitzHerbert – or Kay Norris, as she was then – had lived in nearly thirty different places...

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