Thursday

This is the caption  in Persuading the People: ‘A poster showing the 29 flags of the individual nations that made up the United Nations. The message of combined strengthened unity is clear. Note that Great Britain is given special prominence as the Union Jack is separated from he rest of the flags.’ To think that the UK is allowing our special unity with the 27 European nations to be destroyed, it’s unbelieveable that this is actually  happening. Next week the Post will retreat nostalgically to Modernism in Sussex.

Land Sea and Air again

This is a very sad and sobering poster. If Brexit happens we shan’t have any allies. At all. See you on the March on Saturday 25th March, details here. (And please give £50 if you possibly can.)

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This was part of the Ministry of Information’s ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’ 1940-41 campaign. Many people took no notice. But presumably one reason Vere Hodgson sent her ‘diary’ as letters to relations oversees was because of the fear of invasion, or spies searching her room in Notting Hill.

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A 1943 poster which can only be called mild and charming.There are some in this book which must have made a pall of gloom hang over the entire nation: cheeringly, we’ll add to the pall tomorrow, Thursday and Friday.

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All eyes on the Brexit debate in the House of Lords this week, although try as one might it’s also impossible to ignore Trumpery (who knew that we would all be so au fait with the twenty-fifth amendment?). For obvious reasons, this week on the Post we shall focus on the excellent new book by David Welch called Persuading the People. It is based on the Ministry of Information archive now at the British Library. The pictures are fascinating. And the text ditto: what is propaganda? What is truth? What are ‘alternative facts’? What is patriotism? Several Persephone books explore this subject (Few Eggs and No Oranges, Miss Ranskill Comes HomeTo Bed with Grand Music and London War Notes are just four examples). For now, a poster to enjoy and not stress over too much. (It’s not actually that well drawn – the children are not right somehow – but in a Peter and Jane-ish kind of way it is interesting.)

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There is something especially poignant about Rex Whistler’s paint box that was left at Plas Newydd: he never returned to use it again. On the day war broke out he was at Mottisfont painting a  trompe-l’oeil. Almost invisibly high on the wall are the words: ‘I was painting this ermine curtain when Britain declared war on the Nazi tyrants. Sunday September 3rd. RW.’

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An oil painting of the officers mess tent, 1942. Rex was killed in the Normandy Campaign in July 1944. The Times received more letters about his death than about any other war victim.

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Rex Whistler did an astonishing book called Oho! in which the drawings of faces are still drawings of faces if turned upside down (drag the drawing onto the desktop and turn it and you will see). We have one copy of Oho! for sale in the shop for £20  – we bought it for the Rex Whistler Lunch but in fact no one bought it; now it will join our forthcoming Vintage Book Shelves in the shop, all books priced at £10 so this will be a bargain. (There is also a later volume called Aha! which was done as homage by Rex’s brother Laurence, although it doesn’t have quite the same magic; but it’s easily obtainable on Abe.)

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This is vaguely Valentine-ish, the only trouble with Rex’s stunning ‘Design for A Place of One’s Own:  glass house entrance hall’ is that it depends on having someone to maintain it: alas, this is what some of us prosaic Persephone readers think when looking at it, since many people find it hard enough to maintain a pot of daffodils or a balcony let alone an elaborate conservatory. But this is being very dull, and in any case should not detract from the unique, inimitable Rex.

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Last week we had a fascinating Persephone Lunch at which Dr Nikki Frater gave a talk about Rex Whistler: we had come across her inspired website about Rex and her talk was equally inspired. She told us that there is a Rex Whistler exhibition at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire until 23 April and this week on the Post we are re-celebrating Rex with some pictures from the exhibition. And of course we plan to go to Mottisfont one weekend. This is his studio at Fitzroy Street, not so far from Lamb’s Conduit Street, in the mid 1930s. There is another drawing of the studio in a letter that was sold (in America) here.

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59 Lamb's Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB