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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

George Orwell versus Vera Brittain: Obliteration Bombing and Dissent in Weekly Political Publications

2nd June 2020, 16:00 to 17:00, Online (Zoom), Prof. Tim Luckhurst (Durham University)

A Centre for Modern Conflicts and Cultures online lecture.

About this talk

In the summer of 1944, George Orwell used his column in Tribune to attack arguments against obliteration bombing of German Cities made by Vera Brittain in her pamphlet Seed of Chaos. By advertising this controversy, Orwell drew attention to a topic the government had worked hard to conceal from the British public: the deliberate killing by the RAF of German civilians. He also took advantage of the government's willingness to tolerate in weekly political publications debates it sought to exclude from mass market journalism. Their row infuriated Vera Brittain and demonstrated that controversial content in titles such as Tribune could be used to burnish Britain's democratic credentials.

About Professor Tim Luckhurst

Prof. Tim Luckhurst is Principal of South College and Associate Pro Vice Chancellor (Engagement) at Durham University. An award-winning journalist for BBC News and Current Affairs and former editor of The Scotsman, Prof. Luckhurst is a newspaper historian and campaigner for press freedom. His research focuses on the depiction of dissent in British and American newspapers between 1936 and 1945. He is currently writing a book provisionally entitled Reporting the Second World War: Newspapers and the Public in Wartime Britain.


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