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A Woman In Love And War: Vera Brittain
Sunday 9 November 2008
3:55 - 4:55 pm
For Remembrance Sunday 2008, Jo Brand presents a heart-rending and vivid film that traces Vera's
story and retells how she saw her generation obliterated.
In 1914 Vera Brittain was young, in love and preparing to study at Oxford. She was at the heart of a
strong friendship that bound five ambitious youngsters together. However, four years later her life and
the life of her whole generation had changed unimaginably. The war had taken the lives of her fiancee,
brother and two best friends, and as a volunteer nurse in London and on the Front she witnessed
horrors that had turned her idealistic passion for an apparent just war to dust.
Brittain's could have been just another sad story from a terrible war, if she hadn't recorded her pain
and loss so eloquently in an unforgettable memoir, Testament of Youth (some readers might remember
its brilliant 1979 BBC dramatisation with Cheryl Campbell as Vera).
In a poignant documentary, Jo Brand, a devotee of the book, looks at Brittain's life, from her wealthy
middle-class upbringing in Buxton, Derbyshire; through her anger and sadness at the futility of war,
to her days as a campaigning pacifist.
Brand's first interviewee is Vera's daughter, Dame Shirley Williams, who leads her through Vera's
teenage years as a clever girl who wanted much more out of life than a dull marriage to any one of
the "stupid and superficial men" who so bored her.
Through Vera's own letters and memoirs and dramatic reconstructions, the story of Vera's war is
brought to life.
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