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Julie Summers is a writer, researcher and historian. Her books include Fearless on Everest: The Quest for Sandy Irvine, and a biography of her grandfather, the man who built the 'real' bridge over the River Kwai, The Colonel of Tamarkan. She lives in Oxford.
A remarkable narrative set against the dark days of World War Two, from one of the country's foremost social historians. Our Uninvited Guests perfectly captures the spirit of upheaval at the beginning of the Second World War when thousands of houses were requisitioned by the government to provide accommodation for the armed forces, secret services and government offices as well as vulnerable children, the sick and the elderly, all of whom needed to be housed safely beyond the reach of Hitler's Luftwaffe. Julie Summers gives the reader a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in some of Britain's greatest country houses that were occupied by people who would otherwise never have set foot in such opulent surroundings.
After so many books devoted to how the nation’s Home Front cooked and gardened during WWI it’s refreshing to see Julie Summers tackling the question of how peoples dealt with clothing themselves. Making do, mending, using unorthodox fabrics and ingenuity kept the country clothed and even fashionable in an age of hardship. Like for Like Reading Millions Like Us:Women's Lives during the Second World War, Virginia Nicholson Jambusters: The Story of the Women's Institute in the Second World War, Julie Summers
I felt, reading this book that we might well have lost the war without the Women’s Institute, if society had a glue then they provided it, not just the jam, but with canteens, medicines, evacuee children, anywhere help was needed. Julie Summers uses some wonderful memoirs and diaries to help write the book - sadly few are available to read in their entirety so their words are confined to Jambusters, a lovely piece of social history.
The Second World War was the WI's finest hour. The whole of its previous history - two decades of educating, entertaining and supporting women and campaigning on women's issues - culminated in the enormous collective responsibility felt by the members to 'do their bit' for Britain. With all the vigour, energy and enthusiasm at their disposal, a third of a million country women set out to make their lives and the lives of those around them more bearable in what they described as 'a period of insanity'. Jambusters tells the story of the minute and idiosyncratic details of everyday life during the Second World War. Making jam, making do and mending, gathering rosehips, keeping pigs and rabbits, housing evacuees, setting up canteens for the troops, knitting, singing and campaigning for a better Britain after the war: all these activities played a crucial role in war time.
Dressed For War: The Story of Audrey Withers, Vogue editor extraordinaire from the Blitz to the Swinging Sixties is the untold story of our most iconic fashion magazine in its most formative years, in the Second World War. It was an era when wartime exigencies gave its editor, Audrey Withers, the chance to forge an identity for it that went far beyond stylish clothes. In doing so, she set herself against the style and preoccupations of Vogue's mothership in New York, and her often sticky relationship with its formidable editor, Edna Woolman Chase, became a strong dynamic in the Vogue story. But Vogue had a good war, with great writers and top-flight photographers including Lee Miller and Cecil Beaton - who loathed each other - sending images and reports from Europe and much further afield - detailing the plight of the countries and people living amidst war-torn Europe. Audrey Withers' deft handling of her star contributors and the importance she placed on reflecting people's lives at home give this slice of literary history a real edge. With official and personal correspondence researched from the magazine's archives in London and in New York, Dressed For War will tell the marvellous story of the titanic struggle between the personalities that shaped the magazine for the latter half of the twentieth century and beyond.
'Julie Summers has an amazing instinct for unearthing good stories and telling quotes.' Craig Brown, The Mail On Sunday 'This is an enjoyable book, peppered with examples of under-reported wartime heroism.' Robert Leigh-Pemberton, The Daily Telegraph 'It's hard to believe that there are still untold stories about Britain and World War II, but Julie Summers has unearthed a fascinating one that she tells with great verve and style. All in all, Uninvited Guests is a sheer delight.' Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London and Last Hope Island A remarkable narrative set against the dark days of World War Two, from one of the country's foremost social historians. Our Uninvited Guests perfectly captures the spirit of upheaval at the beginning of the Second World War when thousands of houses were requisitioned by the government to provide accommodation for the armed forces, secret services and government offices as well as vulnerable children, the sick and the elderly, all of whom needed to be housed safely beyond the reach of Hitler's Luftwaffe. Julie Summers gives the reader a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in some of Britain's greatest country houses that were occupied by people who would otherwise never have set foot in such opulent surroundings.Blenheim Palace was colonised by schoolboys who slept in the Long Library; Polish special agents trained in the grounds of Audley End House, learning to forge and lie their way into occupied Europe in the old nursery. Brocket Hall, former home of Queen Victoria's favourite Lord Melbourne, was used as a maternity home for women from the East End of London, and the Rothschilds' magnificent French chateau-inspired Waddesdon Manor housed a hundred children under five. The Northern Highlands, where the fierce warriors of Scotland's past developed their unconventional military skills, played host to the most extreme form of warfare, training agents in the fine arts of sabotage, subterfuge and assassination. The juxtaposition of splendour and opulence with the everyday activities of people whose needs were at odds with their new surroundings is at the heart of this book. This thought-provoking and evocative narrative captures a crucial period in the social history of Britain. Praise for Julie Summers: 'Superb...highly recommended' Who Do You Think You Are Magazine 'A remarkable collection of stories...a rich and moving book' Mail on Sunday 'Summers is a good and knowledgeable writer...powerful, emotional stuff' Independent 'A poignant, lingering account' BBC History Magazine 'A revelation - full of information, reminiscences, humour and social history. Reading it not only gave me great pleasure but also made me proud to be a member of such a long lasting, valuable and vital organisation' Helen Carey OBE, former chairman of the National Federation of Women's Institutes
The basis for the PBS Masterpiece series starring Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey) and Francesca Annis (Cranford) Away from the frontlines of World War II, in towns and villages across Great Britain, ordinary women were playing a vital role in their country's war effort. As members of the Women's Institute, an organization with a presence in a third of Britain's villages, they ran canteens and knitted garments for troops, collected tons of rosehips and other herbs to replace medicines that couldn't be imported, and advised the government on issues ranging from evacuee housing to children's health to postwar reconstruction. But they are best known for making jam: from produce they grew on every available scrap of land, they produced twelve million pounds of jam and preserves to feed a hungry nation. Home Fires, Julie Summers's fascinating social history of the Women's Institute during the war (when its members included the future Queen Elizabeth II along with her mother and grandmother), provides the remarkable and inspiring true story behind the upcoming PBS Masterpiece series that will be sure to delight fans of Call the Midwife and Foyle's War. Through archival material and interviews with current and former Women's Institute members, Home Fires gives us an intimate look at life on the home front during World War II.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Boat races and regattas are mainstays of the British summer - but where did these races originate and how have they become so important a part of our culture? Historian, writer and novice sculler Julie Summers here explains the history of British rowing as a competitive sport from the early nineteenth century to the present day. She then profiles the three most famous rowing events: the Boat Race, rowed on the incoming tide from Putney to Mortlake in spring; Henley Royal Regatta, which takes place on the first weekend of July; and the Olympic Games, which have yielded some of the greatest British Olympians of all time, including Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent and Jack Beresford.
On 1 September 1939 Operation Pied Piper bgan to place the children of Britain's industrial cities beyond the reach of the Luftwaffe. 1.5 million children, pregnant women and schoolteachers were evacuated in 3 days. A further 2 million children were evacuated privately; the largest mass evacuation of children in British history. Some children went abroad, others were sent to institutions, but the majority were billeted with foster families. Some were away for weeks or months, others for years. Homecoming was not always easy and a few described it as more difficult than going away in the first place. In When the Children Came Home Julie Summers tells us what happened when these children returned to their families. She looks at the different waves of British evacuation during WWII and explores how they coped both in the immediate aftermath of the war, and in later life. For some it was a wonderful experience that enriched their whole lives, for others it cast a long shadow, for a few it changed things for ever. Using interviews, written accounts and memoirs, When the Children Came Homeweaves together a collection of personal stories to create a warm and compelling portrait of wartime Britain from the children's perspective.
In 1917 a remarkable organisation came into being. Its brief was vastly ambitious: to commemorate the 1,100,00 men of the British Empire who lost their lives in the First World War. The Imperial War Graves Commission was the creation of one man, Sir Fabian Ware, whose energy and determination brought together some of the greatest designers and architects of the early twentieth century. This book looks at the history of the war graves for British and Commonwealth servicemen and women, and examines how modern remembrance has been shaped by the work of Ware and his contemporaries after the First World War.
'It is as if I have been waiting for someone to ask me these questions for almost the whole of my life' From 1945, more than four million British servicemen were demobbed and sent home after the most destructive war in history. Damaged by fighting, imprisonment or simply separation from their loved ones, these men returned to a Britain that had changed in their absence. In Stranger in the House, Julie Summers tells the women's story, interviewing over a hundred women who were on the receiving end of demobilisation: the mothers, wives, sisters, who had to deal with an injured, emotionally-damaged relative; those who assumed their fiances had died only to find them reappearing after they had married another; women who had illegitimate children following a wartime affair as well as those whose steadfast optimism was rewarded with a delightful reunion. Many of the tales are moving, some are desperately sad, others are full of humour but all provide a fascinating account of how war altered ordinary women's lives forever.
Written by Toosey's granddaughter, this remarkable portrait of a forgotten British hero and leader is essential reading for anyone interested in the Second World War. 'Truly uplifting ... It makes you proud to be British.' The Guardian Alec Guinness won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the dogmatic but brittle commanding officer in David Lean's film The Bridge on the River Kwai. While a brilliant performance, it owed more to fiction than fact, as the man who actually commanded the POWs ordered to build the infamous bridges -- there were in fact two: one wooden, one concrete -- was cut from very different cloth. Lieutenant Colonel Philip Toosey was the senior officer among the 2,000-odd Allied servicemen incarcerated in Tamarkan prison camp, and as such had to comply with the Japanese orders to help construct their Thailand-Burma railway. With malnutrition, disease and brutality their constant companions, it was a near-impossible task for soldiers who had already endured terrible privations -- and one which they knew would be in the service of their enemy. But under Toosey's careful direction, a subtle balancing act between compliance and subversion, the Allied inmates not only survived but regained some sense of self-respect. Re-creating the story of this remarkable leader with tremendous skill and narrative flair, and drawing on many original interviews with Second World War POWs from the Asian theatre, The Colonel of Tamarkan is a riveting blend of biography and history.