Vera Brittain (1893-1970) now recognised as one of the preeminent authors and diarists about the First World War offered a personal perspective on events in many ways unmatched by others of her generation. The loss of her fiancee Roland, her brother Edward and other close friends, as well as her experiences as a VAD nurse at the front, led her to a strong position of feminism, pacifism and anti-war activism for the rest of her life. These three images were inspired from extracts of her most famous book about WW1: ‘Testament of Youth’
‘Vera – 1 – ‘De-Rosed’ [digital painting] by Della Foxglove 2014
Vera Brittain commented about a day in December of 1914:
‘That afternoon the news of the [German] raid impressed me less than my purchase of a little black moire and velvet hat trimmed with red roses. It was one of the prettiest hats that I have ever had, and also one of the most memorable, for I was to be indescribably happy while wearing it, yet in the end to tear off the roses in a gesture of impotent despair‘.
[Vera Brittain Testament of Youth, Virago 2008 : 92]
‘Vera – 2 – A New Design’ [digital painting] by Della Foxglove 2014
In a rare moment of off duty time as a VAD nurse in WW1 France,Vera Brittain finds momentary ‘peace’ in the beauty of nature:
‘Towards Paris-Plage the ruddy sails of brown fishing smacks caught the brief flame of sunset: along the shore irregular patches of emerald green seaweed made a futurist pattern upon a golden-brown carpet. Close to the sea a delicate scatterings of pink and purple shells began a new design; other cone-shaped varieties, curiously striped in black and yellow, might have been miniature models of fashionable millinery in the Rue de la Paix’.
[Vera Brittain,Testament of Youth, Virago 2008 : 347]
‘Vera – 3- ‘Victory’ [digital painting] by Della Foxglove 2014
‘I thought with what mockery and irony the jubilant celebrations which will hail the coming of peace will fall upon the ears of those to whom their best will never return, upon whose sorrow victory is built, who have paid with their mourning for the others’ joy’.
Vera Brittain,Testament of Youth, Virago 2008 : 421.