Life of a Teenager in Wartime London (ePub)
Life in wartime London evokes images of the Blitz, of air-raid shelters and rationing, of billeted soldiers and evacuated children. These are familiar, collective memories of what life was like in wartime London, yet there remains an often neglected area of our social history: what was life like for teenagers and young people living in London during the Second World War?
While children were evacuated and many of their friends and family went to fight, there were many who stayed at home despite the daily threat of air raids and invasion. How did those left behind live, work and play in the nation's capital between 1939 and 1945? Using the diary entries of nineteen-year-old trainee physiotherapist Glennis 'Bunty' Leatherdale, along with other contemporary accounts, Life of a Teenager in Wartime London is a window into the life of a young person finding their way in the world. It shows how young people can cope no matter the dangers they face, be it from bombs or boys, dances or death.
Interview feature and review as featured inHistory of War, issue 52 - by Tom Garner
The book is full of well-researched facts and statistics and provides a different insight into what is admittedly an already well-known subject. The British Home Front is such a familiar period of history that it can sometimes seem that there is little left to write about. But by focusing on teenagers, Leatherdale has filled a demographic gap that is not always apparent.
Using Bunty’s and other teenagers’ testimonies, it becomes clear that wartime adolescents were just as consumed by confusing dilemmas as they are today but were further burdened by a heightened sense of danger. Despite the other testimonies, Bunty remains centre stage throughout the book, and her diary entries are a unique insight into one young woman’s war.
Bunty claims in the foreword, “When I read it now I can’t help but think how foolish I sounded.” Nevertheless, Bunty’s self-deprecation does her entries a disservice. Walter Scott once wrote that a diary is “dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who
treasures it.” Duncan Leatherdale himself rightly became “engrossed” by his grandmother’s words and has expanded on her story in an engaging style to produce a book that is fittingly accessible to a teenage audience.
Written in a relaxed style which makes it difficult to put down, and is suitable as a work of reference as well as to satisfy general interest.WDYTYA? February 2018 – reviewed by Paul Conner, France (reader review)
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