We’ve just started to catalogue books published at the end of 1914. It’s noticeable how fast and how completely the outbreak of the First World War came to dominate the books published. Since about 1907 we’ve noticed several pamphlets on the arms race, and glossy brochures about Britain’s new warships, but by the end of 1914 every shelf in the bookshops must have been filled with books about the war.
Some of these are so out of date as to be of no practical use: the book entitled ‘Cold steel’ has a chapter on dealing with ‘savages’ which I think would be useless when faced with an enemy armed with guns instead of spears. The author of a book on the treatment of wounds explains that his advice is based on experience of the Boer war.
Poetry is famously important to our understanding of the first world war, but the poetry published in late 1914 was centred on one theme: patriotism. The titles say it all:
Poems of war and battle
The flag of England: ballads of the brave and poems of patriotism
England, my England, a war anthology.
The Union Jack.
And finally the card (left) issued for Christmas 1914.