Death in War and Peace: A History of Loss and Grief in England 1914-1970

ISBN : 9780199265510

Pat Jalland
336 Pages
164 x 241 mm
Pub date
Sep 2010
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Death in War and Peace is the first detailed historical study of experience of death, grief, and mourning in England in the fifty years after 1914. In it Professor Jalland explores the complex shift from a culture where death was accepted and grief was openly expressed before 1914, to one of avoidance and silence by the 1940s and thereafter. The two world wars had a profound and cumulative impact on the prolonged process of change in attitudes to death in England. The inter-war generation grew up in a bleak atmosphere of mass mourning for the dead soldiers of the Great War, and the Second World War created an even deeper break with the past, as a pervasive model of silence about death and suppressed grieving became entrenched in the nation's psyche. Stories drawn from letters and diaries show us how death and loss were experienced by individuals and families in England from 1914; and how the attitudes, responses, and rituals of death and grieving varied with gender, religion, class, and region. The growing medicalization and hospitalization of death from the 1950s further reinforced the growing culture of silence about death, as it moved from the care of the family to that of hospitals, doctors, and undertakers. These silences about death still linger today, despite a further cultural shift since the 1970s towards greater emotional expressiveness. This fascinating study of death and bereavement helps us to understand the present as well as the past.


Part I: War and Peace 1914-1939
1. Death, the Great War and the influenza pandemic
2. Violet Cecil and communities in mourning
3. The Bickersteths' sacred pilgrimages to the Great War Cemeteries, 1919-1931
4. Death, disasters and rituals among the northern working classes, 1919-39
5. Sir Sydney Cockerell: cremation and the modern way of death in England
Part II: The Second World War
6. The people's war: Death in the blitz
7. Missing airmen and families in anguish: 'There could be no mourning'
8. Experiences of wartime grief
Part III: A changing culture of death and loss since 1945
9. Hidden death: Medicine and care of the dying, 1945 to 1970
10. Widowhood, grief and old age 1945-1963
11. Gorer's map of death: Declining rituals and prolonged sorrow, 1963
12. Observing grief: C.S. Lewis and the psychiatrists
13. Epilogue: Change and continuity since the 1970s

About the author: 

Pat Jalland has been a Professor of History at the Australian National University since 1997. She has published in British women's history, Anglo-Irish history, and the history of death and bereavement in Australia and Britain. Her eight books include The Liberals and Ireland (Harvester, 1980); Women, Marriage and Politics (OUP, 1986), winner of the 1987 Western Australian Literary Award for non-fiction; Death in the Victorian Family (OUP, 1996), winner of the New South Wales Premier's Prize for History, and Changing Ways of Death in 20th Century Australia (UNSW Press, 2006).

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