Thursday 30 September 2021

To All The Living by Monica Felton BLOG TOUR #ToAllTheLiving #WarTimeClassics @I_W_M @angelamarymar @RandomTTours


In January 1941 Griselda Green arrives at Blimpton, a place ‘so far from anywhere as to be, for all practical purposes, nowhere.’

Monica Felton’s 1945 novel gives a lively account of the experiences of a group of men and women working in a munitions factory during the Second World War. Wide-ranging in the themes it touches on, including class, sexism, socialism, fear of communism, workers’ rights, anti-semitism, and xenophobia, the novel gives a vivid portrayal of factory life and details the challenges, triumphs and tragedies of a diverse list of characters. Adding another crucial female voice to the Wartime Classics series, To All the Living provides a fascinating insight into a vital aspect of Britain’s home front.

To All The Living by Monica Felton was re-published as part of the Imperial War Museum War Time Classics collection on 23 September 2021.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from 
To All The Living by Monica Felton 

BLIMPTON IS SO far away from anywhere as to be, for all practical purposes, nowhere. As far as the ordinary, everyday things of life are concerned – such as paying a visit, or sending a letter, or ringing up on the telephone, or delivering a thousand tons of cordite – the place might almost as well not exist. Almost, but not quite. It is true that you can telephone to Blimpton, but only when you have induced one of the thirty-thousand-odd officials of the Ministry of Weapon Production to give you the number; and only then if the number is not changed, as it very probably will be, between the time when you put down the receiver at the end of one call and pick it up again to ask for another. You can, too, send a letter; but the whereabouts of Blimpton are so shrouded in secrecy, even within the confines of the G P O Sorting Office, that anything you put in the post is likely to arrive, if it arrives at all, only after going to Brompton and Brimpton and Brighton and Blisworth and fifteen or twenty other places whose names begin with the letter B or look as if they might.

It is also possible to go to Blimpton; but this is the most difficult undertaking of all. It is true that nearly twenty thousand men and women go there every day unless they happen to be attending a football match or going to the cinema or staying at home to do the shopping or to have a baby. These twenty thousand, however, would not willingly do anything to lessen Blimpton’s happy obscurity. Some of them come from Scotland, a few from Wales and a good many from Ireland; the others come from almost every county in England, and it is said that those who do succeed in arriving at Blimpton find it extraordinarily difficult to get away. If Blimpton is the last place in the world that you want to go to, and if your innocent ambition is merely to keep on with whatever job you have been doing since you were first thrown out upon the world to earn your living, if you are one of the people who know that they ought to be doing something about the war, and can’t think quite what, then, for such is the way things are ordered, if you haven’t been sent to Blimpton yet the probabilities are that you will find yourself there before the war is over.

MONICA FELTON (1906–1970) was a feminist, socialist, peace activist, historian and author, and a
pioneering proponent of town planning. She attended University College, Southampton, and was awarded a doctorate for a thesis on emigration from Britain between 1802 and 1860 at the London School of Economics. In 1937 she was elected a member of the London County Council, representing St Pancras South West.
During the Second World War Felton served in the Ministry of Supply, on which her publications Civilian Supplies in Wartime Britain and her novel To All the Living are based. After her time at the Ministry, Felton was Clerk of the House of Commons until 1943. She then worked for the Army Bureau of Current Affairs, lecturing servicemen and women across Britain and the Middle East about world affairs and the problems of post-war Britain. After the war, she became heavily involved in town planning, serving as Chair for the Peterlee and Stevenage Development Corporations. However, she was fired from the chair of Stevenage by Hugh Dalton, Minister of Local Government and Planning, after taking an unauthorised trip to North Korea on behalf of the Women’s International Democratic Federation in 1951, during the Korean War. On her return from this trip she accused American troops of atrocities and British complicity. There was a media and establishment backlash, and even accusations of treason from Members of Parliament for suborning American and British prisoners of war. As a result, Felton became increasingly isolated in Britain and moved to India in 1956. Whilst there, she wrote biographies of the Indian statesman Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari and women’s social reformer Sister R S Subhalakshmi. She died in Madras (modern day Chennai) in 1970.

No comments:

Post a Comment