Vera Brittain (Vera Mary Brittain) Biography
(1893–1970), (Vera Mary Brittain), Verses of a V. A. D, The Dark Tide
Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Bridgnorth Shropshire to Anthony Burgess [John Anthony Burgess Wilson Burgess] Biography
British author, pacifist, and feminist, born in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. Her education at Somerville College, Oxford, was interrupted from 1915 to 1918 by service in London, France, and Malta as a nurse with the Volunteer Aid Detachment; her Verses of a V. A. D. (1918) reflect the vigorous pacifism with which she responded to her experiences of warfare. The Dark Tide (1923), the first of her five novels, all of which contain a strong autobiographical element, provoked controversy through its depiction of conditions in Oxford's women's colleges. She remains best known for Testament of Youth (1933), her account of her life up to 1925; Brittain intended the work, which is memorable for its movingly idealistic portrayals of ‘the stark agonies of my generation’ during the First World War, as a counterpart from a woman's viewpoint to the numerous memoirs of the war by male authors. The book gained her an international reputation as a spokeswoman for pacifism, and over the next three decades she lectured widely in Europe, Asia, and America; her other works as a pacifist include Seeds of Chaos (1944), which drew sharp criticism for its condemnation of the British and American bombing campaigns during the Second World War, and the historical study The Rebel Passion (1964). Among her numerous significant contributions to modern feminist literature are Lady into Woman: A History of Women from Victoria to Elizabeth II (1953), and Testament of Friendship (1940), a remarkable commemoration of her relationship with Winifred Holtby. Testament of Experience (1957) continues her autobiography up to the year 1950 and forms a richly detailed record of social and historical developments of the period. A. G. Bishop edited three volumes of Brittain's diaries (1981, 1986, 1989); Testament of a Peace Lover (edited by A. Eden-Green) is a collection of her letters.