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Neil Taylor

MA work

Everyone thinks they know the Second World War. It is retold almost daily in films or documentaries on TV whilst the publishing world every year fills countless bookshop shelves with wartime diaries, novels, biographies and, of course, histories. This media fascination with the War usually falls into two categories: military history or the history of the Home Front. Home Front histories often tell a similar story. They begin with the surreal calm of the phoney war and then work their way through the Blitz, rationing and austerity before reaching the street parties and celebrations of VE-Day. Their focus is the common-man; their war, the ‘People’s War’.

This dissertation, however, uncovers a different Home Front. The Home Front was not all austerity, rationing and a grim struggle to survive. For some, namely a rich, cosmopolitan elite living in and around London, the war offered a continuation of a lifestyle built on luxury. This dissertation, then, will reveal, chronicle, question and analyse the place of such luxury in the People’s War. It will first trace the changing nature of the government’s attitude to luxury in wartime before addressing how the upmarket tailors, jewellers, department stores, hotels, clubs and restaurants reacted and adapted to the War. It will then discuss the social tensions created by the continuation of these luxury lifestyles before finally asking why this luxury-loving elite indulged in diamond brooches, leather gasmask-cases, bespoke riding breeches and fine dining in a time of total war.

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2009

  • Everyone thinks they know the Second World War. It is retold almost daily in films or documentaries on TV whilst the publishing world every year fills countless bookshop shelves with wartime diaries, novels, biographies and, of course, histories. This media fascination with the War usually falls into two categories: military history or the history of the Home Front. Home Front histories often tell a similar story. They begin with the surreal calm of the phoney war and then work their way through the Blitz, rationing and austerity before reaching the street parties and celebrations of VE-Day. Their focus is the common-man; their war, the ‘People’s War’.

    This dissertation, however, uncovers a different Home Front. The Home Front was not all austerity, rationing and a grim struggle to survive. For some, namely a rich, cosmopolitan elite living in and around London, the war offered a continuation of a lifestyle built on luxury. This dissertation, then, will reveal, chronicle, question and analyse the place of such luxury in the People’s War. It will first trace the changing nature of the government’s attitude to luxury in wartime before addressing how the upmarket tailors, jewellers, department stores, hotels, clubs and restaurants reacted and adapted to the War. It will then discuss the social tensions created by the continuation of these luxury lifestyles before finally asking why this luxury-loving elite indulged in diamond brooches, leather gasmask-cases, bespoke riding breeches and fine dining in a time of total war.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) English Literature, The University of Nottingham, 1995
  • Experience

  • Course Director and Tutor, The University of Nottingham, 2002-7; Reader (English language fiction), La Magrana Publishing, Barcelona, 2001-2; Assistente de Lingua, Banca D'Italia, Rome, 1997-2001; Course Tutor, LUMSA University, Rome, 1997-2001