The Virago Book of Women and the Great War, Paperback

The Virago Book of Women and the Great War Paperback

Edited by Joyce Marlow

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Joyce Marlow presents a fascinating and varied collection of women's writing on the Great War drawn from diaries, newspapers, letters and memoirs from across Europe and the States.

Starting with material from 1914, she outlines the pre-war campaigns for suffrage and then the demand from women eager to be counted amongst those in action.

Contemporary accounts and reports describe their experience on the field and reactions to women in completely new areas, such as surgery as well as on the home front.

The words of women in the UK, America, France and Germany display a side to the war rarely seen. Familiar voices such as those of Vera Brittain, Millicent Fawcett, May Sinclair, Alexandra Kollontai, the Pankhurst family and Beatrice Webb, as well as the unknown, make this anthology a truly indispensable guide to the female experience of a war after which women's lives would never be the same.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages, map
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Prose: non-fiction
  • ISBN: 9781860495595



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I’d read so much about the men in the First World War and only a little bit about life for women during this time therefore it was with great interest that I opened the covers to discover what life was like for women during the Great War. Joyce Marlow has brought together an interesting anthology that includes snippets from women of all ages who undertook different roles and responsibilities during the years covered in this collection.The book is sectioned in the years of the war and at the end of the 1918 chapter there is also a brief addition from 1919 and how people were beginning to rebuild their lives and begin the steps of coming to terms with their losses. I found some of the accounts moving whilst others were from aspects of life that I wasn’t so interested in; yet because of the structure of the book I was able to skip through anything I didn’t feel pertinent to me.The contributors come from all walks and life and a range of nationalities. Among them are some familiar names such as Vera Brittain, Millicent Garrett Fawcett and the Pankhurst family and then there are the ordinary women who took on board a range of diverse occupations to help with the war effort. Marlow details in the back biographical information about all of the contributors and references all her other sources.Quoted on the back is The Scotsman stating that ‘these first-person female memories are social history at its most compelling’ and they are; there are some genuinely entertaining sections where I was fascinated at how women tried to maintain a sense of normality at times whilst the world around them was devastated. I’m pleased I’ve finally read this good collection, some five years after buying it and when better time to read it than during November.