WWI munitions worker
PREFACE BY NICOLA BEAUMAN
Persephone book No. 1 was 'written in a rage in 1918; this extraordinary novel... is a passionate assertion of the futility of war' (the Spectator). Its author had been an actress and suffragette; after 1914 she worked at the Scottish Women's Hospital at Royaumont and organised Concerts at the Front. William – an Englishman was written in a tent within sound of guns and shells; this 'stunning... terrifically good' novel (Radio 4's A Good Read) is in one sense a very personal book, animated by fury and cynicism, and in another a detached one; yet is always 'profoundly moving' (Financial Times).
In our view William – an Englishman is one of the greatest novels about war ever written: not the war of the fighting soldier or the woman waiting at home, but the war encountered by Mr and Mrs Everyman, wrenched away from their comfortable preoccupations - Socialism, Suffragettism, so gently mocked by Cicely Hamilton - and forced to be part of an almost dream-like horror (because they cannot at first believe what is happening to them). The scene when William and Griselda emerge after three idyllic weeks in a honeymoon cottage in the remote hills of the Belgian Ardennes, and encounter German brutality in a small village, is unforgettable. The book, which won the Prix Femina-Vie Heureuse in 1919, is a masterpiece, written with an immediacy and a grim realism reminiscent of an old-fashioned, flickering newsreel.
William – an Englishman was chosen by Anne Harvey on Radio 4's A Good Read here
To read more about William – an Englishman go to the Persephone Forum.
Also available as a (free) e-book.
The endpaper fabric is an Omega Workshop linen, dating from 1913 when the novel begins. With its pattern of abstract shapes outlined in black 'Pamela' has an appropriate austerity; yet the soft curves evoke the Belgian hills and the blue, green and purple recall the suffragette colours.