Since much of my reading last year pertained to the Victorians, this year I've decided to dive into the 20th century. My focus will be on [mostly British] women's writing from the period prior to the Great War through the 1950s.

With that in mind, I've compiled the following reading list for myself, picking and choosing whatever looked interesting, and likely missing some gems along the way. I don't expect to read every book here, because I'm sure I won't manage, and there will undoubtedly be numerous rabbit-trails to lead me astray. Nevertheless, it should be an enjoyable reading year!

World War I

  • [Pre-WWI] The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West.
  • The Virago Book of Women and the Great War edited by Joyce Marlow
  • High Wages by Dorothy Whipple: Another novel by Persephone's bestselling writer about a girl setting up a dress shop just before the First World War.
  • Round About a Pound a Week by Maud Pember Reeves: A study of working-class life in Lambeth before WWI that is witty, readable, poignant and fascinating - and relevant nowadays. (Public Domain)
  • Home Fires in France by Dorothy Canfield Fisher: A collection of 11 short stories based on the author's war work in France. (Public Domain)
  • Christine (1917) by Elizabeth von Arnim (published under the pseudonym Alice Cholmondeley). Info. (Public Domain)
  • This is the End (1917) by Stella Benson: A novel set in London during the First World War, written while the war was still going on. It features a lady novelist, a woman bus conductor and a variety of indecisive men. (Public Domain)
  • A Diary Without Dates (1918) by Enid Bagnold: An intimate, informal diary of the writer's personal experiences in a hospital for the war victims, vividly done and extremely good reading. (Public Domain).
  • The War Workers by EM Delafield - Published in 1918, the story centers around the characters that live and work at an army support institution during WWI. (Public Domain)
  • Missing (1917) by Mrs. Humphrey Ward. (Public Domain)
  • The War and Elizabeth (1918) by Mrs. Humphrey Ward (Public Domain)
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain: One of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain's account of how she survived the period; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded and how she emerged into an altered world.
  • William - an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton: Prize-winning 1919 novel about the effect of WWI on a socialist clerk and a suffragette. (Public Domain)

A list of outstanding work by WWI Women Writers on WWI can be found at

Between the Wars
  • Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh: Satiric novel published in 1930 examining the frenetic but empty lives of the 'Bright Young Things.'
  • Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930) by EM Delafield.
  • Bricks and Mortar by Helen Ashton: An excellent 1932 novel by a very popular pre- and post-war writer, chronicling the life of a hard-working kindly Londy architect and his wife over thirty-five years. Review here.
  • Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyn. A young woman's life in 1930s Bohemian London. Review here.
  • The New House by Lettice Cooper: A 1936 portrayal of the day a family moves into a new house, and the resulting adjustments and tensions. Review here.
  • Lady Rose and Mrs. Memmary by Ruby Ferguson: A 1937 novel about Lady Rose, who inherits a great house, marries well - and then meets the love of her life on a park bench. A greate favorite of the Queen Mother. Review here.
  • One Pair of Hands by Monica Dickens: A 1939 book which recounts the authors pre-WWII time working as a cook-general in various homes around London
  • Manja: The Story of Five Children by Anna Gmeyner: A 1938 German novel about five children conceived on the same night in 1920, and their lives until the Nazi takeover in 1933. Review here.
  • The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West. (Public Domain)
  • The Proper Place by O. Douglas. Review here.
  • Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther. Essays on life in pre-WWII London; originally appeared as a column in The Times.
World War II




  1. Danielle said...
    I happened on your list looking for information about Winifred Peck. Thanks very much--I've printed out the list as this is a period I'm very interested in at the moment.
    Kristine said...
    Danielle, I'm so glad you found the list useful. Happy reading! :-)

Post a Comment