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Nella Last in the 1950s

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

Nella Last in the 1950s

Further diaries of Housewife, 49

Patricia Malcolmson, Robert Malcolmson

Picking up where bestseller Nella Last's Peace left off, this fascinating diary from the 1950s delves into the thoughts, feelings and daily life of housewife, mother and skilful narrator Nella Last, as well as that of her family, friends and neighbours.

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847652867 (7 Oct 2010)

About the book

'I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person ... can possibly have value.'

So wrote Nella Last in her diary on 2 September 1949. Sixty years on, tens of thousands of people have read and enjoyed the first two volumes of her uniquely detailed and moving diaries, written during World War II and its aftermath as part of the Mass Observation project, and the basis for BAFTA-winning drama Housewife 49 starring Victoria Wood.

This third compelling volume sees Nella, now in her sixties, writing of what ordinary people felt during those years of growing prosperity in a modernising Britain. Her diary offers a detailed, moving and humorous narrative of daily life at a time that shaped the society we live in today. It is an account that's full of surprises as we learn more about her relationship with 'my husband' (never 'Will') and her fears of nuclear war. Outwardly Nella's life was commonplace; but behind this mask were a penetrating mind and a lively pen.

As David Kynaston said on Radio 4, Nella Last 'will come to be seen as one of the major twentieth century English diarists.'

About the author

Patricia and Robert Malcolmson are social historians with a special interest in Mass Observation. They have edited several MO Diaries, including Nella Last's Peace (2008) and Nella Last in the 1950s (2010), and are currently writing a social history of the wartime Women's Voluntary Services. They live in Nelson, British Columbia.


Unhappily married, and frustrated by the tedium of domestic captivity, she recorded with exceptional honesty her reactions to privation, bombing, fear and dreary monotony, speaking for millions to whom the war denied any heroic role. Among the most striking passages is that which describes her response to the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945: she greeted the news not with exultation at allied victory, but with revulsion about the event's significance for mankind.

- Max Hastings, Observer

A vivid and characteristically distinctive account of those uncertain years poised between austerity and affluence. It confirms Nella Last's status as one of the major twentieth-century English diarists.

- David Kynaston

It's wonderful to be back in Nella's world again. Such emotional candour, so many entertaining little personal battles. Unquestionably one of the great British diaries of the mid-20th century.

- Simon Garfield

Nella Last's diaries give a fascinating and detailed account of life in the early 1950s. The prose is such a delight to read - lively, entertaining, observational and vividly realised

- Gervase Phinn, author of Road to the Dales

A must-read

- Yours

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics