Reading London in Wartime: Blitz, the People and Propaganda in 1940s Literature presents an expansive variety of writers and genres, including non-fiction and film approaches, to build a comprehensive social picture of the atmosphere during wartime London. From blitz and austerity to the nagging insistency of propaganda, this volume examines the representation of London in wartime and early post-war literature through each writer’s unique perspective on the pressures of 1940s city life.
Exploring the use of London imagery, this book considers how literature redirects attention to individual, subjective experience at a time of enforced co-operation, uniformity and community. Unlike government information films and news broadcasts, which often used London to prop up prevailing clichés and stereotypes, and encouraged patriotic support for the war, literature had the freedom to express more recalcitrant truths. London writing of the 1940s was not a literature of opposition or dissent, but in offering more nuanced depictions of the period, it was a counterweight to propaganda and the general war temperament. In writing, the city becomes a more complex place, no longer the easy symbol of defiance and stoicism, of the shared sacrifice of ration book and war work.
William Cederwell completed his Ph.D. in English Literature at University College London in 2013. The thesis, which examines wartime London writing, forms the basis of this book. His undergraduate degree, a first-class MA Honours in English Literature, was awarded by the University of Edinburgh in 1994. He has spent several years working in a variety of roles in the media and publishing industry.