Published 24 August 2020.
All Rose Macaulay’s anti-war writing, collected together in one fascinating and thought-provoking volume.
Her novel Non-Combatants and Others (1916) is a classic of pacifist writing, and was one of the first novels to be written and published during the First World War that set out the moral and ideological arguments against war.
Her journalism for The Spectator, Time & Tide, The Listener and other magazines from the mid-1930s to the end of the Second World War, details the rise of fascism and the civilian response to the impending war. These are supported by Macaulay’s two inter-war essays on pacifism,‘Apeing the Barbarians’ and ‘Moral Indignation’.
Macaulay’s only wartime short story, ‘Miss Anstruther’s Letters’, is a devastating account of the loss of her flat and all her possessions in the Blitz.
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Non-Combatants and Others is scathing and heart-breaking, yet finds a way for pacifists to work for an end to conflict.
Witty, furious and despairing in turn, Macaulay’s forgotten magazine columns reveal new insights into how people find war and its tyrannies creeping up on them.
‘Miss Anstruther’s Letters’ is devastating. But more desperate a loss than Miss Anstruther’s books were the letters from her secret lover, who had just died. Drawing from her own secret heartbreak, Macaulay wrote her life most powerfully into this, her last short story.
‘It’s an impressive collection, and as well as giving a fascinating overview of Macaulay’s views on war, it also makes marvellous reading. Non-Combatants really brings home the devastation of war, something we haven’t seen at close quarters in the UK for some time; and it’s a chilling reminder of how easy it is for a country to slip into right wing intolerance with all the awful consequences that brings.’ – Shiny New Books
‘A stylish and well-produced collection of her writings’ – Bookword
‘The redoubtable Handheld Press has brought out Non-Combatants and Others together with a selection of Macaulay’s essays of reportage and reflection for the Spectator, Time and Tide, and other periodicals, written between 1936 and 1945, and “Miss Anstruther’s Letters”, a heart-wrenching and highly autobiographical short story of the Blitz. Reading the whole in sequence is to witness a deliberately cultivated indifference towards war harden – many would say strengthen – into pacifist resolve.’ – Catherine Taylor, Brixton Review of Books
‘An excellent collection of writings against war – Rose Macaulay was a committed pacifist in the years before the Second World War … this novel and the non-fiction pieces that follow it provide an extraordinary sense of the pain and anger that so many felt towards the suffering that war brought with it.’ – HeavenAli
Other Handheld books about pacifism
The Conscientious Objector’s Wife. Letters Between Frank and Lucy Sunderland, 1916-19: this unique family archive of letters between a conscientious objector and his wife, who is keeping the family together in Letchworth on her own, reveals the hidden side of the domestic Home Front in the First World War (2018).
A Quaker Conscientious Objector. Wilfrid Littleboy’s Prison Letters, 1917-19: this collection of letters from one of the leading British Quakers of the twentieth century has never been published before. Edited with an extensive introduction by Quaker historians Rebecca Wynter and Ben Pink Dandelion, Wilfrid Littleboy’s letters written in isolation reveal the human, friendly and warm-hearted personality that made him such a discerning Quaker thinker (2020).
You may also be interested in these books by and about Rose Macaulay
What Not. A Prophetic Comedy is Rose Macaulay’s 1918 novel of a future eugenicist England, suppressed for potential libel, after which it vanished from sight. This novel was a significant influence on her friend Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Potterism: A Tragi-Farcical Tract is Macaulay’s 1920 novel of truth, lies, slander and the British press.
Personal Pleasures. Essays on Enjoying Life is Macaulay’s 1935 anthology of essays in which she tells us about the pleasures of her own life. Witty, urbane, ridiculous and delightful, these reveal glimpses of her life as an independent and sociable woman of the 1930s (2021).
Dreaming of Rose. A Biographer’s Journal: Sarah LeFanu’s memoir of researching her biography of Rose Macaulay, while juggling the demands of teaching and broadcasting. For life writers, lovers of biography, and those interested in the nooks and crannies of Macaulay’s life and work.