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What Did You Do in the War, Mummy?

Authors: Mavis Nicholson

Published by Seren

ISBN: 9781854115294

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What Did You Do in the War, Mummy? includes a wonderfully varied collection of women – some famous, some unknown – who talk to Mavis Nicholson about how they lived, worked, loved and managed during the Second World War.

Their frank and vivid stories reveal the intimate details of women’s lives during those years: the new freedoms, the make-do and mend, the hope and the fears, as well as the post-war adjustments that had to be made. With a foreword by wartime icon Dame Vera Lynn, this is oral history at its most engaging and significant.

The contributors include the novelist Mary Wesley, Penguin children’s author Kathleen Hale, artist Mary Fedden, human rights campaigner Helen Bamber, TV and radio star Molly Weir and Phyllis Pearsall, creator of the first ever London A-Z. Their wartime experiences altered these lives forever and changed the way women would live in the future. Readers young and old will find a text by turns moving, informative and entertaining.

"From Forces’ Favourite Anne Shelton to resistance heroine Odette Hallowes, Nicholson’s wonderfully jaunty and passionate interviewees include munitions workers, land girls, housewives, charity workers and Alicia Markova’s sister Doris Barry, singing and dancing her way through the war at the Windmill Theatre."
The Independent on Sunday

"The best stories have the quality of a good novel… I found it all riveting reading.” Richard Ingrams

Mavis Nicholson was born in 1930, in industrial south Wales. After university she became an advertising copywriter in London, socialising with the likes of Kingsley Amis and John Morgan, and then a full-time mother for ten years. At the age of 43 she presented her first TV series, ‘Good Afternoon’, on which she founded a long broadcasting career as a celebrated interviewer. Still broadcasting, she is also the ‘agony aunt’ for The Oldie.
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