‘We walk forward together, along a long black road – powder carriers never walk alone – like a flunkey for death, sneaker-shoed Lofty waits on me now; he must open the doors; he must see that no-one bumps into me while I’m carrying this case of ‘Powder K’.
Inez Holden’s There’s No Story There will be published on 23 March 2021 alongside Margaret Kennedy’s Where Stands A Wingèd Sentry.
‘Inez Holden is a great lost voice from the literature of the Second World War. These pieces of fictionalised reportage place her on the same shelf of Forties-era writing as Julian Maclaren-Ross and Henry Green.’ — D J Taylor
‘There’s No Story There is a nuanced, understated and incisive portrait of wartime industry. It’s a classic of observational writing and a vital debunking of “people’s war” mythology.’ — Gill Plain, University of St Andrews
This remarkable novel from 1944 about wartime life and work is a companion to Blitz Writing (2019), Handheld Press’s edition of Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift (1941) and her wartime diaries It Was Different At The Time (1943). This edition of There’s No Story There includes three pieces of Holden’s long-form journalism, detailing wartime life.
‘Holden paints a vivid and moving portrait of working-class life; the workers’ daily routines, their pleasures and pains, not to mention the peril they habitually face in their exceptionally dangerous work environment. She’s particularly brilliant when it comes to dialogue.’ – The Paris Review
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There’s No Story There is about the lives of conscripted workers at Statevale, an enormous rural munitions factory in the north of England during the Second World War. The workers make shells and bombs, and no chances can be taken with so much high explosive around. Trolleys are pushed slowly, workers wear rubber-soled soft shoes, and put protective cream on their faces. All cigarettes and matches are handed in before the workers can enter the danger zone, and they wear asbestos suits.
From the first edition
‘An exemplary piece of descriptive writing … in half a dozen impressionistically suggested stories there is seen the triumph of idiosyncracy over regimentation’ – The Guardian (1944)
‘These snatches of conversation in canteen or pub that she sets down so shrewdly carry cumulative force and illumination’ – Times Literary Supplement (1944)
In our edition, the Introduction by Lucy Scholes explores this wartime trilogy by Holden as part of her life as a novelist and Bright Young Thing in the 1930s, and as a wartime journalist.