Vera Brittain (1893-1970) was a prominent feminist author in Britain
who has allegedly been published over 500 times. She excelled in her formal education, and begged her father to let her attend college - Something he was strongly opposed to. After much persuasion she was able to convince him and she attended Somerville College, Oxford
in the autumn of 1914. She had become engaged to a friend of her brother, Edward, named Roland Leighton just before leaving to study English. When World War I
broke out, Edward and Roland joined the british armed forces
, and Vera left school to become a nurse
on the front. During the war she and Roland wrote many letters to one another, some of which were published in a 1999 collection entitled "Letters From a Lost Generation
: The First World War Letters
of Vera Brittain and Four Friends". Before the war was over, Edward and Roland would both be killed in action
Vera returned to college in 1919, devastated from the war. She switched schools of study from English to History, but found difficulty in finding her place back at Somerville. She felt alienated, as she was now 26 years old, and felt that those who had gone to support the war, like her and Roland, were forgotten and unappreciated. During the next few years, she suffered from Insomnia, Hallucinations and Delusions.
In 1920 she met and became friends with another female student who had taken a leave of absence, Winifred Holtby. The two would become close friends and roomates until Holtby's death in 1935. Upon leaving Oxford, Winifred Holtby and Vera Brittain would become writers for the feminist newsletter "Time and Tide". Vera's first novel, "Dark Tide" would be published in 1923. In 1925 she married and breifly came to America before returning to continue her feminist activities in England. In the 1930's she became a lifelong member of the Peace Pledge Union.
After WWI Vera Brittain had become a pacifist, and remained one until her death in 1970 at the age of 77. She was survived by her daughter, Liberal politician Shirley Williams. Her most famous novels include "Testament of Youth", her autobiography from the years 1900-1925, the follow up, "Testament of Experience" which covered the years 1926-1950, and her memoir of Winifred Holtby, "Testament of Friendship". She was an outspoken advocate of pacifism, feminism, humanism, and homosexual rights.