Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Testament of Experience, the second volume of Vera Brittain’s autobiography, follows her Testament of Youth (1933) in attempting to trace the history of the generation that came of age in Britain at the time of World War I, through an account of her personal experiences and her responses to public events. The perspective is that of a widely traveled university-educated woman from an upper-middle-class background whose career as a literary journalist married to a political scientist active in the Labour Party enabled her to become acquainted with some of the most prominent public figures of her time, from Sir Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists and Dick Sheppard of the Peace Pledge Union to President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Jawaharlal Nehru. At the same time, living in London and elsewhere in the south of England during and after World War II, Brittain was exposed to the dangers and deprivations then undergone by Londoners of all socioeconomic classes.

Testament of Experience is a predominantly chronological account of Brittain’s life from the time of her marriage in 1925 to that of her return from a speaking tour of India in 1950, shortly before her silver wedding anniversary. Part 1 focuses on the period between the wars, emphasizing the rise of Nazism and Fascism on the public level and Brittain’s initial literary success on the personal; part 2 deals with World War II and Brittain’s much-maligned...

(The entire section is 547 words.)