Keep Calm and Carry On
My new book, The FitzOsbornes at War, is set (mostly) in England during the Second World War, and my characters get involved in all sorts of adventures. Sophie, my narrator, is dragged into a spy scandal at the American Embassy in London. Her cousin Veronica helps rescue a member of the British royal family from a kidnapping attempt. Her brother Toby becomes a fighter pilot and battles Nazis in the sky. Her friends Daniel and Rupert have top-secret jobs helping the military. Then Sophie has to investigate the circumstances surrounding a dear friend's death when the authorities seem determined to hide the truth . . .
But you're going to have to read the book if you want to find out more about that. What I'm going to write about here is how everyday life in England changed due to the war. Which is still pretty interesting, I think.
For example, during the Second World War, the British government had lots of information it needed to get across to the public. Often, it used posters to do this. There were posters reminding people to carry their identity cards and encouraging women to join the military services. There were posters asking people to donate their binoculars to the army or send money to the Red Cross. There were posters urging people to 'Dig for Victory' (that is, plant more vegetables) and warning them that 'Careless Talk Costs Lives' (because German spies might overhear vital information and use it to plan attacks). Most memorably, there were posters to boost the morale of the public, the most famous of which is probably this:
Ironically, this poster wasn't widely distributed during the war. More than two million copies were printed, but they were designed to be displayed only if the Germans invaded Britain. Fortunately, this didn't happen. So, most of the posters were destroyed after the war, but a few survived. The owners of Barter Books discovered one, displayed it in their shop and eventually started printing and selling the posters, which became very popular. Then came Keep Calm-o-Matic, a website that allows you to create your own personalised versions. Naturally, I couldn't resist creating some for the FitzOsbornes.
First, Sophie, who needs some encouragement to keep writing in her journal:
Then, her glamorous friend Julia:
And Julia's brother Rupert, who loves animals:
And Carlos, the family dog:
(There are some more FitzOsbornes posters at my blog, Memoranda.)
What would your Keep Calm poster say?
Next: Looking Good in Wartime