That’s not such a confession of blatant prying as it seems! Yesterday, I went to get the book I’d reserved from the library, Nella Last’s War.
Nella Last kept a diary throughout World War Two, under the auspices of the Mass Observation Archive. Her record of events offers a unique insight into one woman’s war – on the Home Front.
I came across Nella Last through Victoria Wood’s TV wartime drama Housewife, 49,based on the real diary of this ordinary, Lancashire housewife, when it was screened on ITV, at the end of last year.
Although I do read biographies, sometimes reading a collection of letters and diaries creates an immediate connection with the person from the past, far more than through the interpretation of a biographer.
On my bookshelves, close to hand, I have Stanley Spencer: Letters and Writings and Carrington: Letters and Extracts from her Diaries. My copy of Carrington’s letters also includes the little drawings that she used to put in her correspondence.
Update: I have since acquired The Letters of Lytton Strachey edited by Paul Levy, providing some of the corresponding correspondence to Carrington’s letters.