My Christmas stocking did not only contain gadgets, although they did constitute a significant proportion. I also asked for two books. I’ve settled down to read them, only now realising how similar they are to each other. The first book is Nella Lasts’s war – The Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49, edited by Richard Broad and Suzie Fleming. The second is Gone with the Windsors by Laurie Graham.
The Nella Last book is based on the Mass Observation project that ran from 1939 to 1950 and which provided one of the most comprehensive data on life during world war 2. I came across this when researching the history of mass birdwatching – started in 1928 I think by the founder of the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology). I was wondering how mass data collection might be related to learning, and collaborative learning. However I soon got sucked into the mass diaries of the british population. For a while, the OU Library paid for access to this data base and I browsed through some of the letters. They were scanned in and absolutely fascinating. I’m not sure if the library still have this access, but I decided there and then that I’d love to read an edited book that presented the diaries in a way that was easy to follow.
I occasionally listen to “A Good Read” on Radio 4. At least, that’s what I think it’s called, I usually miss the start where they announce it. Gone with the Windsors was discussed in this program, it covers the experience of Wallace Simpson as she interacted with the British high society of the 1930s.
As I got both books out to read, I realised that both are written in the form of diary entries and both cover a similar period in british history. However one documents the experiences of a working class housewife whereas the other presents, in a lighthearted way, the experiences of a wealthy socialite.
They should make an interesting contrast