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Vera Brittain (Vera Brittain)

Vera Brittain

British pacifist, feminist, poet, and novelist. She was born at Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire. Her father, Thomas Brittain, was a wealthy paper manufacturer, and her mother Edith Bervon. Vera was educated at home by a governess, then at a boarding school in Surrey and finally at Somerville College, Oxford. In 1914 Vera met and fell in love with Roland Leighton, a friend of her only brother, Edward. On the outbreak of the First World War Roland and Edward Brittain joined the British Army. She also wanted to become involved in the war effort and become a nurse. She joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and served in England and in France. She became engaged to Ronald Leighton, in August, 1915 but four months later he was killed on the Western Front. So also was her brother, Edward Brittain, and several of her close friends.  One of her most famous poems was called “Perhaps” and dedicated to Roland Leighton. After the war she worked as a teacher in Oxford and in 1922 moved to London, devoting herself to writing. Between the years 1921 and 1925 she travelled extensively in Europe. In 1925 she married the political scientist George C.G. Catlin, who was later appointed professor of politics at Cornell University and knighted in 1970. Soon after their marriage they went to the United States and lived for a year in Ithaca, New York. She found it difficult to settle in America and after the birth of her two children, John (1927) and Shirley (1930) she moved back to England where she lived with Winifred Holtby. In 1923 she published her first novel, “The Dark Tide”. Her wartime experiences and marriage to George Caitlin were recounted in “Testament of Youth”. The book was based on her diary, which she began in 1913, and which was published in 2000 under the title “Phoenix: Chronicle Of Youth”. “Testament of Youth” became an immediate bestseller. She was an Honorary Life President of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, a vice-president of the National Peace Council, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  Vera is the mother of Shirley Williams the politician who co-founded the Social Democratic party in 1981. Her ashes are divided between the graves of her brother in Italy and her husband in England. (bio by: julia&keld)


  • December, 29, 1893
  • England


  • March, 03, 1970
  • England


  • Granezza British Cemetery
  • Veneto
  • Italy

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