London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes
London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes

London War Notes by Mollie Panter-Downes

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Persephone book no. 111

Mollie Panter-Downes not only wrote short stories (Good Evening,Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories and Minnie’s Room: The Peacetime Stories) but also non-fiction ‘Letters from London’ for The New Yorker. She wrote her first one on September 3rd 1939; on May 12th 1945 she wrote her hundred and fifty-third. Her New Yorker obituary observed: ‘Other correspondents were writing about the war, of course, often with great power and conviction, but they dealt with large incidents and events, while Mollie wrote of the quotidian stream of English life, of what it was like to actually live in a war, of what the government was doing, of the nervous sound of the air-raid sirens, of the disappearance of the egg, of children being evacuated – of all the things that made life in England bearable and unbearable. In a steady flow of copy, directed to editors she had never met at a magazine she had never visited, she undoubtedly did more to explain wartime England to American readers than anyone else in the field.

And as the TLS said when London War Notes was published in 1971: ‘For sheer range of mood and matter Mollie Panter-Downes leaves most of her rivals standing. Nothing more vivid has been written about those early days of soft sunshine when it was hard to disentangle the dream from the reality, a long summer afternoon in which fantasy flourished, and the barrage balloons glittered “like swollen fairy elephants lolling against the blue”

Paperback with jacket
Publisher: Persephone Books
ISBN: 978-1910263013
Pages: 459
Endpaper: An early 1940's rayon scarf designed and manufactured by Filmyara Fabrics.