Women and War is an extremely broad subject, but the Hypatia collection contains multiple sources concerning a wide range of topics relating to this, including women’s roles in both the First and the Second World War, the various Women’s Military Organisations and even material relating to women in the Spanish Civil War. One particular area of interest within this subject is the historical argument relating to the supposed ‘progressive’ nature of women’s roles and work within both wars, something that can be analysed in greater detail using the Hypatia collection. This angle of enquiry is most evident through considering women’s work within the First and Second World War, for example within the Army Auxiliary Corps (as can be seen in A. Anderson, “Johnnie”: of Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, (London, 1920)) or the role women played in the Land Army (for example in V. Sackville- West, The Women’s Land Army, (London, 1944); W. E. Shewell- Cooper, ‘Land Girl: A Handbook for the Women’s Land Army’, (London, 1940)).  As well as this, the collection also holds material relating to women’s personal memories of the war, which would provide an interesting angle to any work relating to this subject. Examples of this include M. Corelli, “My Little Bit” (London, 1919) and J. Comfort, The Letters of Thomasina Atkins: Private (WAAC) – on Active Service, (London, 1918).

Some interesting books about life on the home front can be found in the domestic life section of the Collection. Books from the First World War period such as Mrs C. S. Peel’s cookbook were designed to help women on the British home front to adjust their cooking practices to the lack of food supplies brought about by the war. Similar works can be found for the Second World War such as the War Time Cookery Book which was published by the London Daily Express to help the public to deal with the pressures of rationing.

There are also other books in the Hypatia Collection which discuss the experiences of women behind enemy lines. These include a diverse range of memoirs such as an account about women in the French Resistance, a war nurse serving on the Eastern Front in the First World War, an English woman in Berlin in the First World War, and an American woman living in Russia during the Second World War.

There are also some fascinating works which give readers an interesting perspective into other dimensions of the wartime experience such as Above All Nations which gives an insight into the acts of good will performed by soldiers throughout the Second World War.  

Jess Clarke

Hannah Evans