The Lengthening War

The Great War Diary of Mabel Goode

Michael Goode

Publication date:
August 2016
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
No associated books available.


The First World War was an event so important, so catalytic, so transformative that it still hangs in the public memory and still compels the Historian’s pen. It was a conflict which, by the end of the struggle, had created a world unfamiliar to the one in existence before it and brought levels of destruction and loss all too unimaginable to the generation of minds which created it. Despite this, we still find it hard to picture what it was like to live through this war. Right from its start, Mabel Goode realised that the First World War would be the biggest event to take place in her lifetime. Knowing this, she took to recording it, taking us day by day through what living in wartime Britain was like. The diary shows us how the war came to the Home Front, from enrolment, rationing, the collapse of domestic service and growth of war work, to Zeppelin attacks over Yorkshire, and the ever mounting casualty lists. Above all else, Mabel’s diary captures a growing disillusionment with a lengthening war, as the costs and the sacrifices mount. Starting with great excitement and expecting a short struggle, the entries gradually give way to a more critical tone, and eventually to total disengagement. The blank pages marked for 1917 and 1918 are almost as informative as the fearful excitement captured at the onset of that tremendous conflict.

This is a strong narrative of the war, easy to read, mixing news with personal feelings and events (often revealing gap between official news and reality). Also included are several poems written by Mabel and a love story in the appendix, giving a complete insight into the life of the diarist. Of note is the fact that Mabel and her brothers (the main serving protagonists in the diary) lived in Germany for some time, meaning they could all speak German and knew 'the enemy nation' as many Britons did not.