Testament of Youth

by Vera Brittain

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 289

Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain is the main character of the memoir. She is born middle-class in the small town of Buxton, part of a conservative family that does not believe in education or work for women. She goes to Somerville College and, as a result, is ostracized by the rest of the town. When World War I begins, she joins the Red Cross as a volunteer nurse. She loses family and friends to the war and experiences a nervous breakdown. After the war, she returns to Somerville to finish her degree. She then works for the League of Nations and as a journalist, speaks for women's equality, and eventually marries and continues working, speaking, and writing.

Edward Brittain

Edward Brittain is Vera's brother, who quits being a university student and joins the army when the war begins. Edward is killed in battle.

Roland Leighton

Roland is Edward's best friend, who also gives up being a university student and joins the army when the war starts. Roland is engaged to Vera but is killed in action.

Winifred Holtby

Winifred is Vera's close friend at Somerville College. After that, they work at the League of Nations together and give speeches for peace and women's equal rights.


Betty is Vera's friend from preparatory school. The two treat wounded soldiers together in London and Malta.

Victor and Geoffrey

Victor and Geoffrey are two close friends of Betty's who are killed in the war.

George "G" Catlin

G, who is referred to only by his first initial in the memoir, is Vera's fiancé and eventual husband. G is unusual for the time, as he believes in women's equality and respects working women. He proposes to Vera and makes it clear she need not choose marriage and family over her work.

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