A selection of the powerful and poignant wartime letters of Vera Brittain and her friends.
“If war spares me,” wrote Vera Brittain to her brother, Edward, in 1916, “it will be my one aim to immortalise in a book the story of us four.” Seventeen years later, Vera was to achieve her aim with the acclaimed Testament of Youth.
This series of letters was the inspiration behind Testament. Written between Vera; her brother; her fiancé, Roland Leighton; and their two best friends, Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow, they give a unique perspective on the most horrifying conflict the world has ever seen. They show the heartbreaking disillusionment of an idealistic public-school generation, raised on ideas of patriotism and duty, as the reality of war emerged. Yet they also give a fascinating insight into the era as a whole: their generation’s literary tastes and the place of women in society.
Read by Amanda Root, Jonathan Firth, Rupert Graves, James Wallace, and Robert Portal, and first heard on BBC Radio 4, these deeply moving letters let us hear for ourselves the voices of Vera Brittain’s lost generation.