The British public commonly imagine war widows to be elderly women who lost their husbands as a result of active combat in the Second World War, surrounded and supported by family, friends, the armed forces, and the state. While this applies to some women, it by no means describes the majority of Britain’s 18,950 war widows.
On 20th July we were absolutely delighted to host an event to raise awareness of the history of war widowhood in the UK. We brought together war widows and historians to reveal the life stories of war’s forgotten women. The afternoon was organised by Dr Nadine Muller, Senior Lecturer in English Literature & Cultural History (Liverpool John Moores University) as part of the War Widows’ Stories project.
Dr Nadine Muller, Professor Angela Smith (Sunderland University), and Mary Moreland (Chair, War Widows’ Association of Great Britain) discussed the experiences of war widows past and present, from the nineteenth century through to the present day, through historical artefacts and first-hand experience. Nadine Muller is an expert in the histories of widowhood in Britain, and Angela Smith has particular expertise in widows of the First World War. Mary Moreland represents the WWA, a political pressure group that works to improve the lives of war widows and their families. A war widow herself, Mary also has extensive personal experience in what it is like to be a war widow today.
Nadine said: “It is crucial that the stories of war’s forgotten women are told and recorded and brought to the public’s attention, so that we can dispel the myths that continue to surround war widowhood today and gain a better understanding of the effects of conflicts past and present.”
For further details about the project and events visit: www.warwidowsstories.org.uk