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The Fateful Year England 1914 by Mark Bostridge

The Fateful Year England 1914

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Mark Bostridge has set out to record the state of Britain in 1914, taking us slowly through the year with stories big and small that progress from suffragettes to school strikes, murder on a train and the Irish question - there is no thought of war for everyman and woman at the beginning of the year and then it is the 28th June, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife and the first stirrings are felt. The declaration of war comes in late summer and the die is cast. We leave this history with the people looking forward to 1915 and an end to the war - we now know they had four more years of war to suffer, the country changing in unimaginable ways. The twin threads of the political and the personal run through this absorbing history giving the reader a vivid picture of the political and military thinking of the time, underlined by a view of the general public and their reaction to war.

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The Fateful Year England 1914 by Mark Bostridge

The Fateful Year by Mark Bostridge is the story of England in 1914. War with Germany, so often imagined and predicted, finally broke out when people were least prepared for it. Here, among a crowded cast of unforgettable characters, are suffragettes, armed with axes, destroying works of art, schoolchildren going on strike in support of their teachers, and celebrity aviators thrilling spectators by looping the loop. A theatrical diva prepares to shock her audience, while an English poet in the making sets out on a midsummer railway journey that will result in the creation of a poem that remains loved and widely known to this day. With the coming of war, England is beset by rumour and foreboding. There is hysteria about German spies, fears of invasion, while patriotic women hand out white feathers to men who have failed to rush to their country's defence. In the book's final pages, a bomb falls from the air onto British soil for the first time, and people live in expectation of air raids. As 1914 fades out, England is preparing itself for the prospect of a war of long duration. Mark Bostridge won the Gladstone Memorial Prize at Oxford University. His first book Vera Brittain: A Life was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Prize, the NCR NonFiction Award, and the Fawcett Prize. His books also include the bestselling Letters from a Lost Generation; Lives for Sale, a collection of biographers' tales; Because You Died, a selection of Vera Brittain's First World War poetry and prose; and Florence Nightingale: The Woman and her Legend, which was named as a Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2008 and awarded the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. He is currently consultant on the forthcoming feature film of Vera Brittain's Testament of Youth.


'A masterly snapshot of the moment before the world went mad' Evening Standard

'Brisk and enjoyable, full of unexpected fascinations' Sunday Times

'An absorbing kaleidoscope of events and episodes ... Hints, forewarnings, inadvertent prophecies of what was to come spike the air like pollen. There's no doubting this book's eye for a good story, or the skill in telling it' Guardian

'A truly gripping chronicle of the mood of a nation moving unwittingly towards catastrophe. Bostridge moves deftly between public event and vivid personal experience with sympathy and imagination' Financial Times

'A moving and myth-confronting account of 1914, Bostridge invigorates the familiar story of a year of two halves, when seven months of peace gave way to the worst period of conflict in world history. The humanity of this book intensifies the poignancy of hindsight and heightens one's awareness of the anguish felt by those survivors who remained behind' -- Juliet Nicolson Telegraph, Book of the Week

'A wonderfully atmospheric narrative for those who are interested in the period but want more than just trenches and treaties' Observer, Book of the Week

'Spy hysteria, petty disputes, shocking art ... an ingeniously constructed picture of England in 1914' The Times 'Book of the Week

About the Author

Mark Bostridge is a biographer and literary critic who lives in London.

He is the biographer of Florence Nightingale. (source:the Guardian)

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Book Info

Publication date

7th August 2014


Mark Bostridge

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Viking an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd


448 pages


World War One Literature
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20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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