A Londoner in Lancashire 1941-1943: The Diary of Annie Beatrice Holness (edited by Patricia and Robert Malcolmson, published by the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, 2016)
Annie Beatrice Holness, a middle-aged London civil servant, was evacuated with her office to the seaside town of Morecambe in 1940. A year later she began writing for Mass Observation. Her observant and thoughtful diary recorded everyday life in all its diversity – her billet, her country walks, her dreary job, her usually gratifying leisure activities (night classes, music and theatre, her allotment garden), the congestion and sights and sounds of wartime Morecambe, such as WAAFs training and throngs of holiday visitors on the promenade. Annie also disclosed her feelings about the setbacks and advances of the war and her attitudes to such issues as social reform, farming practices, religious belief, and the rights of women, especially in the workplace – though reticent on many matters, she was decidedly a feminist. Her perspectives often shifted, as war forced her and others to change. Feeling – as she often lamented – an ‘exile’ in Morecambe, she returned to London in 1945, but two years later chose to come back to Morecambe and settle there permanently. This edition focuses on the years when her diary was at its richest, between 1941 and 1943.
Patricia Malcolmson and Robert Malcolmson are historians who have written books and articles on English social history since the eighteenth century. In recent years they have edited for publication numerous twentieth-century diaries, most of them held in the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex. These include Nella Last’s Peace (2008), Nella Last in the 1950s (2010), The Diaries of Nella Last: Writing in War and Peace (2012), Kathleen Hey, The View from the Corner Shop: The Diary of a Yorkshire Shop Assistant in Wartime (2016), and several scholarly editions for various record societies (London, Bedfordshire, Dorset, and Surrey). Their latest authored books are Women at the Ready: The Remarkable Story of the Women’s Voluntary Services on the Home Front (2013) and Wartime Cumbria 1939-1945: A Social History (forthcoming), and Patricia’s Me and My Hair: A Social History (2012).