Sisters and Brothers in Arms: Family, Class, and Gendering in World War I Britain

TitleSisters and Brothers in Arms: Family, Class, and Gendering in World War I Britain
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsWoollacott, Angela
EditorCooke, Miariam G., and Angela Woollacott
Book TitleGendering War Talk
PublisherPrinceton University Press
CityPrinceton, NJ

This essay examines World War I brother-sister relationships, spe­cifically British women's representations of their relationships with com­batant brothers. The powerful images of male-female relationships dis­torted by World War I, drawn by middle-class women writers in their memoirs and novels, help to consider the ways in which the war affected the close familial relationships of working-class women. Vera Brittain complained that "like so many women in 1914," she was suffering "from an inferiority complex," and later she lamented that the war had put "a barrier of indescribable experience between men and the women whom they loved." Irene Rathbone described her life and those of her women friends after the war as the hollow, rudderless existence of survi­vors, suggesting that they may as well have died as their men had. De­spite their own active participation in the war effort, for these women writers the guilt, anger, and adoration that their brothers and fiances evoked in their role as warriors subsumed their own novel freedoms, including the partial granting of suffrage in 1918.

Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Type of Literature:

Time Period:

Library Location: 
Call Number: