During the First World War a knitting craze swept across Britain, as women everywhere wanted to kit out their Tommies with socks, mittens, balaclavas, vests, jumpers and all manner of knitwear — some more graciously received than others. Millions of socks were sent from the home front to the fighting fronts in a bid to wage war on the dreaded trench foot, and thoughtful knitters would often tuck a love note or simple message into parcels to offer extra cheer to the soldier far from home. Knitting for Tommy explores the knitting craze through magazine adverts, postcards, cartoons and photographs of the day, as well as offering a guide to kitting out your own First World War Tommy using original knitting patterns.
Lucinda Gosling is a historian working at the Mary Evans Picture Library. Her books include Debutantes and the London Season, Royal Coronations, and Brushes and Bayonets: Cartoons, sketches and paintings of World War I. She is also the author of Great War Britain: The First World War at Home, published in hardback by The History Press at £25.
Interested in learning more about Newham Bookshop and some of the people connected with it? We have four lessons for classroom or family use developed from On the Record’s oral history project centered around Newham Bookshop, Writing and Reading Newham. Click here for full details.
We are proud that Newham Bookshop is LoveReading’s Bookshop of the Month. The article features a Q&A with Vivian Archer, which you can read here.