Wartime in West Suffolk

Edited by Robert Malcolmson
Edited by Peter Searby

Wartime in West Suffolk


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First Published: 19 Jul 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843837022
8 black and white, 2 line drawing illustrations
Pages: 212
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  THE DIARY. Part One: November 1942 to January 1943
  • 3  THE DIARY. Part Two: February to June 1943
  • 4  Afterword
  • 5  Appendix A: Mass-Observation
  • 6  Appendix B: Winifred Challis's Early Life
  • 7  Appendix C: Winifred Challis's account of VE Day celebrations in Bury St Edmunds

Winifred Challis (1896-1990) spent most of her life in West Suffolk. Born in Newmarket, during the Second World War she was working in Bury St Edmunds for the Public Assistance Committee and was one of nearly 500 people who at some point during the war kept a diary for the social research organization, Mass Observation. From November 1942 she wrote at length about her everyday life, her feelings, and the social and political attitudes of both herself and others.
Winifred, while often introspective, was also a close observer of the world around her, a free thinker, and an accomplished and penetrating writer, with a questioning mind and a quick wit. For several months in 1942-1943 she immersed herself in her diary-writing, producing on some days at least a couple of thousand words of perceptive commentary on the wartime scene - rationing, shortages, the often bleak texture of daily life, the sometimes disconcerting presence of outsiders in Bury, but with various moments of satisfaction and pleasure. Her diaries provide an unusual and fascinating record of a critical period of Suffolk's history.

Robert Malcomson is Professor Emeritus of History, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario; Peter Searby was until his retirement Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.


[A] very highly recommended addition to mid-20th Century English History reference collections and supplemental reading lists. BOOKWATCH