Testament of Youth (Paperback)

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By Vera Brittain, Mark Bostridge (Introduction by), Shirley Williams (Preface by)
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Staff Reviews

Vera Brittain grew up, got into Oxford, fell in love, and then World War One began. So she dropped out of Oxford, trained as a nurse, and she went to war. I read this memoir in the wake of the 2016 election, and it was exactly what I needed - this is the perfect depiction of what it’s like to live in a time of calamity when you’ve believed in the easy promises of your life up until now, and what it’s like to keep going when you fear that the thread of meaning has resolutely frayed. Give this to the proto-revolutionaries in your life, woke and thoughtful women, progressives gearing up for the battle.

— Madeleine


Giving a voice to a lost generation, this edition features a new introduction by Brittain’s biographer. Now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Hayley Atwell, and Taron Egerton

Much of what we know and feel about the First World War we owe to Vera Brittain’s elegiac yet unsparing book, which set a standard for memoirists from Martha Gellhorn to Lillian Hellman. Abandoning her studies at Oxford in 1915 to enlist as a nurse in the armed services, Brittain served in London, in Malta, and on the Western Front. By war’s end she had lost virtually everyone she loved. Testament of Youth is both a record of what she lived through and an elegy for a vanished generation. Hailed by the Times Literary Suplement as a book that helped "both form and define the mood of its time," it speaks to any generation that has been irrevocably changed by war.

This edition features a new introduction by Brittain's biographer examining her struggles to write about her experiences and the book's reception in England and America.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

About the Author

Vera Brittain (1893–1970) served as a nurse in the British armed forces in World War I and afterward devoted herself to the causes of peace and feminism. She wrote twenty-nine books, of which Testament of Youth is the best-known.

Mark Bostridge is a biographer and literary critic who lives in London.

Praise For…

“[Testament of Youth] remains one of the most powerful and widely read war memoirs of all time.” —The Guardian (London)
Product Details
ISBN: 9780143039235
ISBN-10: 0143039237
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: May 31st, 2005
Pages: 688
Language: English
Series: Penguin Classics