Love letters of the Great War

In December 1914, the largest wooden structure in the world was erected within London’s Regent’s Park by the Post Office. This was the London Home Depot, where bags of mail for troops on the Western Front were sorted. The efficient delivery of letters and parcels to serving soldiers was given high priority.

Edited by Mandy Kirkby, Love letters of the Great War is a powerful collection of love letters shared between soldiers and their sweethearts during World War I.

From the private papers of Winston Churchill to the tender notes of an unknown Tommy in the trenches, this wonderful book brings together some of the most romantic correspondence ever written.

Some of the letters collected here are declarations of love and longing; others contain wrenching accounts of fear, jealousy and betrayal; many share sweet dreams of home. In amongst these moving letters are more light-hearted moments including those from soldiers thanking their loved ones for the sausage rolls or asking for Oxo cubes to be sent to them.

But in all the correspondence – whether from British, American, French, German, Russian, Australian and Canadian troops in the height of battle, or from the heartbroken wives and sweethearts left behind – there lies a truly human portrait of love and war.

Soldiers downplay physical hardship, pain, danger and self-doubt; wives and sweethearts downplay loneliness, poverty or the difficulties of coping alone with home and children.

Each of the letters, many of which have never before been published, is introduced by a brief piece about the authors, some of whom were parted for ever by the tragedy of war; others reunited.

A century on from the start of the First World War, these letters offer an intimate glimpse into the hearts of men and women separated by conflict, and show how love can transcend even the bleakest and most devastating of realities.

Further details of Love letters of the Great War can be found on the main catalogue, available in ‘Catalogues’ on the Library’s website.