12th February 1941: Winifred Holtby

Quiet day. Full moon tonight, but no planes, so I suppose London had a quiet night, thank God. I saw Jack Geernaert [a schoolfriend of EJR's] outside his [family's] shop this morning, mending the blind, which was broken by an Australian lorry some weeks ago. He was wearing civilian clothes, and looked very well. He apparently has 7 days leave every 6 months, because it was the same day I went to bring the parents back from Maidenhead that he was going back last August. I believe he also has a weekend every now and then, so he does not do too badly. His job is entirely sedentary, and would quite suit me.

Tonight reading Vera Brittain’s biography of Winifred Holtby. Most interesting. W.H. must have been very nice. I wish I had met her. Was “South Riding” really a masterpiece? Its indictment against local government was not brilliant, I thought. It could have been done better than that. Still, it must have “got home” as NALGO made a most violent protest. At the time I thought the film which was made was really better than the original book.

I did not know that W.H. died of the results of high blood pressure. I too suffer from this, and I know something of the pain it can give, especially in the legs and head. All my limbs have an extraordinary tendency to “go to sleep”, particularly when in bed. The restoration of circulation is most painful.

Rather cloudy tonight. A few planes over.

Winifred Holtby (1898-1935) was a writer, political activist and social campaigner. Her novel 'South Riding' was published posthumously in 1936 and her friend, Vera Brittain, published her biography, entitled 'Testament of Friendship', in 1940. A television adaptation of 'South Riding' is currently being screened on the BBC.

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