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Animals and war book – University of Chicago Press

2014 August 5
Nina, Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon, with a vulpine companion. Nina was responsible for evacuating hundreds of cats and dogs to her Ferne sanctuary in Summer 1939

Nina, Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon, with a vulpine companion. Nina was responsible for evacuating hundreds of cats and dogs to her Ferne sanctuary in Summer 1939

I have recently signed a contract with the University of Chicago Press to write a book on the cat and dog massacre in 1939 and the subsequent animal-human relationship during the Second World War  on the Home Front in Britain.

There is a huge amount of material about non-human animals in published (and unpublished) diaries, memoirs and even official accounts of the war that has been overlooked. Home Guard accounts, for example,  noted the plight of animals. In a valedictory publication in June 1945 the Poplar chief warden reflected: ‘Perhaps the most pitiful sight of this nightly scene of devastation was the behaviour of stray dogs and cats…’

Animals were widely observed during the war: the owls coming into central London during the blackout; birds singing in Green Park; the Siamese cat draped round his human companion’s neck in Holland Park; a rabbit found running around Piccadilly Circus – a lost regimental mascot…

 Yet today much of this is unknown in the public domain, though it still features in family stories and memories.

I will be placing updates and extracts from the draft chapters here. I am always interested in hearing family stories /memories of people’s relationships with companion animals during the war – or suggestions for things to read –  so please do contact me.

4 Responses Post a comment
  1. Emma Tait permalink
    August 5, 2014

    Congratulations on the book contract. Sounds like the book will be packed with very interesting material. Am looking forward to reading it.

  2. August 6, 2014

    This sounds like a very interesting project, and from what I already know, Wilfred Risdon was very closely associated with protecting domestic animals during this war, in his work with the London and Provincial Anti-Vivisection Society.

  3. Bronwyn Labrum permalink
    August 8, 2014

    Congratulations on the contract! Well done and I look forward to reading the drafts. I have been ruminating with some twitter friends on the companionship of animals as we write. I have had no. 1 and no. 2 feline research assistants with me constantly as I work on revising a book manuscript!

  4. JayAnn Knox permalink
    October 7, 2014

    Congratulations on the book contract.
    I have long been interested in the animal welfare during both World Wars and have researched it extensively – particularly the role of NARPAC, of which I own some wonderful and rare artefacts. I used to do a presentation to the public on this subject at 1940s events!
    I am very much looking forward to reading your publication. A huge pity I am too far from Manchester to attend your lecture next week.
    My wishes for your every success
    Jay Ann Knox

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