Skip to main content

HIST1300
Reading List: The Home Front in Second World War Britain

Primary Sources for the Historian: An Introduction to Documentary study, 2019/20, Semester 2
Professor Stephen Alford
S.Alford@leeds.ac.uk
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Week 1: Introduction

Required Reading:

There is no set academic reading for this seminar, but you are required to bring along a copy of the module guide. Ahead of the seminar please familiarise yourself with the guide and the module, especially the assessed and non-assessed requirements, and weekly themes. If you do wish to prepare with some introductory reading, the following are recommended and widely available:

Paul Addison, ‘The Impact of the Second World War’ in A Companion to Contemporary Britain, ed. By Paul Addison and Harriet Jones (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), Chapter 1, pp. 3-22.

 Angus Calder, The People’s War (London: Pimlico, 1992).

Sonya Rose, Which People’s War? National Identity and Citizenship in Britain 1939-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

 

Week 2: Mobilising for Total War/ Presentation Prep

Key Questions:

In what ways was the Second World War a ‘total war’? In what ways was it a ‘people’s war’?

How did the government try to influence people’s behavior in wartime? How did propaganda represent life on the home front?

Required Reading:

Paul Addison, ‘The Impact of the Second World War’ in A Companion to Contemporary Britain, ed. By Paul Addison and Harriet Jones (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), Chapter 1, pp. 3-22.   

David Welch, Persuading the people : British propaganda in World War II , (London: British Library, 2016), Chapter Two and Chapter Three, pp. 21-85.  Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Further Reading

James Chapman, The British at war : cinema, state, and propaganda, 1939-1945 (London: IB Tauris, 1998).

Susan L Carruthers, ‘Manning the Factories’: Propaganda and Policy on the Employment of Women, 1939-1947’, History. , 75 (1990), 232- 256.

Anthony Aldgate, Britain can take it : British cinema in the Second World War (London: IB Tauris, 2007).

David Clampin, Advertising and propaganda in World War II : cultural identity and the blitz spirit (London: Tauris, 2013).

John Morris, Culture and propaganda in World War II : music, film and the battle for national identity /John Morris. (London: IB Tauris, 2014).

Sian Nicholas, The echo of war : home front propaganda and the wartime BBC, 1939-45 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996).

Chloe Ward, ‘Something of the Spirit of Stalingrad: British Women, their Soviet Sisters, Propaganda and Politics in the Second World War’, 20th century British history. , 25 (2014), 435-60.

Jo Fox, ‘Careless Talk: Tensions within British Propaganda during the Second World War’, The journal of British studies. , (2012), 936-966.

Marion Yass, This is your war : home front propaganda in the second World War (London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1983).

 

Week 3: Mass Observation

Key Questions:

What was Mass Observation? What is the Mass Observation Archive? What material does it hold? What are the benefits and challenges of using Mass Observation material?

Required Reading:

Penny Summerfield, ‘Mass Observation: Social Research or Social Movement?’, Journal of contemporary history. , 20 (1985), 439-452.  

Mass Observation Online, Further Resources, Brief History  

http://www.massobservation.amdigital.co.uk/FurtherResources/BriefHistory  

Dorothy Sheridan, The Mass Observation Archive: A History.  

http://www.massobservation.amdigital.co.uk/FurtherResources/Essays/TheMassObservationArchiveAHistory  

**There are plenty more very useful essays available from the Mass Observation Archive Online, which introduce Mass Observation and explore different elements of its work and uses to the historian.**

http://www.massobservation.amdigital.co.uk/FurtherResources/Essays

You will need to log in to the archive via the institutional log in tab on the website or by searching ‘Mass Observation Online’ in the library catalogue.

Further Reading:

Mass Observation online [electronic resource]. , (The Mass Observation Archive, available to access digitally through the library catalogue).

Angus Calder and Dorothy Sheridan, Speak for Yourself: A Mass Observation Anthology (London: Cape, 1984).

James Hinton, The Mass Observers : a history, 1937-1949  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

James Hinton, Nine Wartime Lives: Mass Observation and the Making of the Modern Self (Oxford: Oxford University Press), Introduction.   

Annabella Pollen, ‘Research Methodology in Mass Observation Past and Present: ‘Scientifically about as valuable as a chimpanzee’s tea party at the zoo’?’, History workshop journal. , 75 (2013), 213- 235.

Dorothy Sheridan, ‘Damned Anecdotes and Dangerous Confabulations’: Mass-Observation as Life History’, Mass Observation Occasional Papers, (Sussex: University of Sussex Library, Mass Observation Archive, 1996).

http://www.massobs.org.uk/images/occasional_papers/no7_sheridan.pdf

Dorothy Sheridan, ‘Using the Mass-Observation Archive as a Source for Women’s Studies’, Women's history review. , 3 (1994), 101-113.

Dorothy Sheridan, Wartime women : a Mass-Observation anthology 1937-45 (London: Phoenix Press, 2002), Introduction.

 

Week 4: The Blitz

Key Questions:

What was ‘the blitz’? What do historians mean by the term ‘morale’? What was morale like on the British home front?

Required Reading:

Robert Mackay, Half the Battle: Civilian Morale in Britain during the Second World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002), Introduction, pp. 1-13.   

Brad Beaven, ‘The Blitz and Civilian Morale in Three Northern Cities, 1940-1942, Northern history. , 32 (1996), 195-203.  

London Can Take It (Film), Imperial War Museum, IWM COI 943 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060022009  

Further Reading:

Angus Calder, The myth of the Blitz (London: Pimlico, 1992).  

Amy Helen Bell, London was ours : diaries and memoirs of the London Blitz (London: IB Tauris, 2011). See chapter two in particular.   Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Susan Grayzel, At home and under fire : the air raid in Britain from the Great War to the Blitz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), particularly Introduction, Chapter 10, Chapter 11.   

Helen Jones, British civilians in the front line : air raids, productivity and wartime culture, 1939-45 (Manchester: Manchester University Press).   Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Susan Grayzel, ‘A Promise of Terror to Come: Air Power and the Destruction of Cities in British Imagination and Experience, 1908-39’, in Cities into battlefields : metropolitan scenarios, experiences and commemorations of total war , eds., Stephan Goebel and Derek Keene (Farnham, 2011), 47-62.   

Tom Harrisson, Living through the Blitz (London: Collins, 1976).

Chris Sladen, ‘Wartime Holidays and the Myth of the Blitz’, Cultural and social history. , 2 (2005), 215-245.

Brad Beaven,’The Blitz. Civilian Morale and the City: Mass Observation and Working-Class Culture in Britain, 1940-41’, Urban history. , 26 (1999), 71-88.

James Chapman, The British at war : cinema, state, and propaganda, 1939-1945 (London: IB Tauris, 1998).

Anthony Aldgate, Britain can take it : British cinema in the Second World War (London: IB Tauris, 2007).

 

Week 5: Women in Wartime

Key Questions:

How were women’s lives affected by the Second World War? What new roles, expectations and experiences were available to women? How did people respond to these?

Required Reading:

Penny Summerfield and Nicole Crockett, ‘You weren’t taught that with the welding’: Lessons in Sexuality in the Second World War’, Women's history review. , 1:3 (1992), 435-54.  

Jennifer Purcell, ‘The Domestic Soldier: British Housewives and the Nation in the Second World War’, History compass. , 4:1 (2006), 153-160.  

Further Reading:

Gail Braybon and Penny Summerfield, Out of the cage : women's experiences in two world wars (London: Pandora, 1987).

Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston Bird, ‘Women in the Firing Line: The Home Guard and the Defence of Gender Boundaries in Britain in the Second World War’, Women's history review. , 9 (2000), 231-255.

Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston-Bird, Contesting home defence : men, women and the Home Guard in the Second World War  (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007).

Sue Bruley, ‘A Very Happy Crowd’: Women in Industry in South London in World War Two’, History workshop journal. , 44 (1997), 58-76.

DeGroot, D., ‘Whose Finger on the Trigger? Mixed Anti-Aircraft Batteries and the Female Combat Taboo’, War and History, 4 (1997)

Sonya Rose, Which People's War?: National Identity and Citizenship in Britain 1939-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), especially Chapter 5.

Sonya Rose, ‘Women’s Rights, Women’s Obligations: Contradictions of Citizenship in World War II Britain’, European review of history = Revue européenne d'histoire. , 7 (2000), 277-90.

Margaret Allen, ‘The Domestic Ideal and the Mobilisation of Women-Power in World War Two’, Women's studies international forum. , (1983), 401-12.

Greenhalgh, James, ‘Till we Hear the All-Clear’: Gender and the Presentation of Self in Young Girls’ Writing about the Bombing of Hull during the Second World War’, Gender and History, 2014, 167-183.

Summerfield, Penny, ‘Women, Work and Welfare: A Study of Child Care and Shopping in Britain in the Second World War’, Journal of Social History, (1983), 249-269.

 

Week 6: Challenging Masculinities

Key Questions:

What roles existed for men on the home front? What was ‘ideal masculinity’ in wartime? Did men on the home front fit this ideal?

Required Reading:

Linsey Robb, '“The Front Line": Firefighting in British Culture, 1939-1945’, Contemporary British history. , 29 (2015), pp. 179-198.  

Juliette Pattinson, ‘Shirkers’, ‘Scrimjacks’ and ‘Scrimshanks’: British Civilian Masculinity and Reserved Occupations, 1941-1945, Gender & history. (2016), 709-727.  

Further Reading:

Linsey Robb, Men at work : the working man in British culture, 1939-1945 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston-Bird, Contesting home defence : men, women and the Home Guard in the Second World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007).

Lucy Noakes, ‘Serve to Save: Gender, Citizenship and Civil Defence in Britain, 1937-41’, Journal of contemporary history. , 47 (2012), 734-53.

Wendy Ugolini and Juliette Pattinson, (eds.), Fighting for Britain? : negotiating identities in Britain during the Second World War (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2015).

J Pattinson, Arthur McIvor and Linsey Robb, Men in reserve : British civilian masculinities in the Second World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press).

Juliette Pattinson and Linsey Robb, Men, masculinities and male culture in the second world war (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

 

Week 7: Austerity Britain

Key Questions:

What are 'austerity' policies? What was the impact of austerity measures on people’s lives? How did different people experience austerity? How did people respond to austerity measures?

Required Reading:

Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Austerity in Britain, Rationing, Controls and Consumption, 1939-1955 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), Introduction, pp. 1-8. AND Chapter 2: Popular Attitudes: Food, pp. 60-86.   

Further Reading:

Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Austerity in Britain, Rationing, Controls and Consumption, 1939-1955 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

P McNeil, ‘Put Your Best Face Forward: The Impact of the Second World War on British Dress’, Journal of design history. , 6 (1993), 283-99.

Henry Irving, ‘Paper Salvage in Britain during the Second World War’, Historical research. , 89 (2016), 373-393.

Mark Roodhouse, ‘Popular Morality and the Black Market in Britain, 1939-1955’, in Food and Conflict in Europe in the age of the two World Wars, eds Frank Trentmann and Flemming Just (Basingstoke: Macmillan 2006), pp. 243-265.   

Chris Sladen, ‘Wartime Holidays and the Myth of the Blitz’, Cultural and social history. , 2 (2005), 215-245.

Rosalind Watkiss Singleton, ‘Doing Your Bit’: Women and the National Savings Movement during the Second World War’ in The home front in Britain : images, myths and forgotten experiences since 1914 , ed. By Maggie Andrews and Janis Lomas (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, ‘Rationing, Austerity and the Conservative Party Recovery after 1945’, The historical journal. , 37 (1994), 173-197.

 

Week 8: Race and Wartime Communities

Key Questions:

How diverse was wartime Britain? What different groups of people were living in Britain during the Second World War? What were attitudes towards them like? What were these people’s experiences?

Required Reading:

Wendy Webster, Mixing it : diversity in World War Two Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018) Introduction.   

Panayi, Panikos, ‘Immigrants, Refugees, the British State and Public Opinion’, in War culture : social change and changing experience in World War Two Britain eds. Pat Kirkham and David Thoms (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1995), pp.201-208.     Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

 

Further Reading:

Tony Kushner, The Persistence of Prejudice: Antisemitism in British Society during the Second World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989).

Rachel Pistol, "Enemy Alien and Refugee: Conflicting Identities in Great Britain during the Second World War"University of Sussex Journal of Contemporary History, 16, 37-52. https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10871/23115/Pistol%2c%20Enemy%20Alien.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Gavin Schaffer, ‘Fighting Racism: Black Soldiers and Workers in Britain during the Second World War’, Immigrants & minorities. , 28 (2010), 246-265.

Sonya Rose, Which People’s War?: National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain 1939-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), especially chapters 2 and 7.

Sonya, ‘Race, Empire and British Wartime National Identity, 1939-45’, Historical Research, (2001), 220–237.

Sonya Rose, ‘Girls and GIs: Race, Sex, and Diplomacy in Second World War Britain’, International history review. , 19 (1997), 146-160.

J Welshman and J Stewart, ‘The Evacuation of Children in Wartime Scotland: Culture, Behaviour and Poverty’, Journal of Scottish historical studies. , 26 (2006), 100-120.

Wendy Webster, “The Whim of Foreigners’: Language, Speech and Sound in Second World War British Film and Radio’, 20th century British history. , 23 (2012), 359-382.

Wendy Webster, Englishness and Empire 1939-1965, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), esp. Chapter 2, ‘The People’s Empire and the People’s War’, pp.19-54.

Wendy Webster, ‘Fit to Fight, Fit to Mix’: Sexual Patriotism in Second World War Britain’, Women's history review. , 22 (2013), 607-624.  

 

Week 9: Remembering the Home Front

Key Questions:

How has the Second World War been remembered in Britain? What has been remembered and forgotten? Is this problematic?

Required Reading:

Lucy Noakes and Juliette Pattinson, British Cultural Memory and the Second World War (eds) (London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014), Introduction.   

Mark Connelly, We Can Take It!: Britain and the Memory of the Second World War (Harlow: Longman, 2004). Introduction.   

Further Reading:

Noakes and Pattinson’s British Cultural Memory and the Second World War includes important articles on many different aspects of remembering the war. I would strongly suggest reading a couple of chapters, such as the following:

Corinna Peniston Bird, ‘The People's War in Personal Testimony and Bronze: Sorority and the Memorial to the Women of World War II’, in British Cultural Memory and the Second World War, eds., Lucy Noakes and Juliette Pattinson, pp. 67-88

Janet Watson, ‘Total War and Total Anniversary: The material culture of Second World War commemoration in Britain’, in British Cultural Memory and the Second World War, eds., Lucy Noakes and Juliette Pattinson, pp. 175-194.

Noakes, Lucy, War and the British : gender, memory and national identity (London: IB Tauris, 1998) 

Finney, Patrick, (ed.). Remembering the Second World War (London: Taylor and Francis, 2018).

The People’s War, (BBC Archive)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/

Week 10: Memory Sources

Key Questions:

What are ‘memory sources’? What are the pros and cons of using memory sources?

Required Reading:

Penny Summerfield and Corinna Peniston Bird, ‘Women in the Firing Line: The Home Guard and the Defence of Gender Boundaries in Britain in the Second World War’, Women's history review. , 9 (2000), 231-255.  

Lucy Noakes, ‘War on the Web’: The BBC’s ‘People’s War’ website and memories of fear in wartime in 21st-century Britain’ in Noakes and Pattinson, British Cultural Memory and the Second World War, pp. 47-65.   

Further Reading:

Penny Summerfield, Histories of the self : personal narratives and historical practice (Abingdon; New York: Routledge, 2019), Chapter 4, Autobiography, Memoir and the Historian. Chapter 5, Oral History and Historical Practice.  Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

Summerfield, Penny, Reconstructing women's wartime lives : discourse and subjectivity in oral histories of the Second World War (Manchester: MUP, 1998).

Penny Summerfield, ‘Conflict, Power and Gender in Women’s Memories of the Second World War: A Mass Observation Study’, Miranda, 2 (2010), 1-10. Available from: https://journals.openedition.org/miranda/1253

Webster, Wendy, ‘Shorn women, rubble women and military heroes: gender, national identities and collective memories’, The essence and the margin : national identities and collective memories in contemporary European culture , 2009, 51-70.

This list was last updated on 18/03/2020