Wartime in West Suffolk

Wartime in West Suffolk

The Diary of Winifred Challis, 1942-1943

Edited by Robert Malcolmson, Peter Searby


Boydell Press



Detailed and engaging diary entries throw new light on what it was really like to live in wartime Suffolk.
Winifred Challis (1896-1990) spent most of her life in West Suffolk. Born in Newmarket, during the Second World War she was working in Bury St Edmunds for the Public Assistance Committee and was one of nearly 500 people who at some point during the war kept a diary for the social research organization, Mass Observation. From November 1942 she wrote at length about her everyday life, her feelings, and the social and political attitudes of both herself and others.
Winifred, while often introspective, was also a close observer of the world around her, a free thinker, and an accomplished and penetrating writer, with a questioning mind and a quick wit. For several months in 1942-1943 she immersed herself in her diary-writing, producing on some days at least a couple of thousand words of perceptive commentary on the wartime scene - rationing, shortages, the often bleak texture of daily life, the sometimes disconcerting presence of outsiders in Bury, but with various moments of satisfaction and pleasure. Her diaries provide an unusual and fascinating record of a critical period of Suffolk's history.

Robert Malcomson is Professor Emeritus of History, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario; Peter Searby was until his retirement Fellow at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.


July 2012
8 black and white, 2 line illustrations
212 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Suffolk Records Society
ISBN: 9781843837022
Format: Hardback
Suffolk Records Society
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037070, LCO015000, HIS015000
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Table of Contents

THE DIARY. Part One: November 1942 to January 1943
THE DIARY. Part Two: February to June 1943
Appendix A: Mass-Observation
Appendix B: Winifred Challis's Early Life
Appendix C: Winifred Challis's account of VE Day celebrations in Bury St Edmunds


(A) very highly recommended addition to mid-20th Century English History reference collections and supplemental reading lists. BOOKWATCH

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