'We were dumped at a roundabout with our labels on. People pulled and tugged at the children they wanted. It was a bit like a cattle market...people just waded in. I went with a lady and her daughter - she was like a second Mum.' Alexander King, evacuated aged eleven Based on the stories of thirteen children and adults, Churchill's Children tells the often moving story of the evacuation of schoolchildren in Britain during the Second World War, from the first mass evacuations of 1939 through to the lesser-known but equally important evacuations of 1940 and 1944. John Welshman skilfully captures the experience of evacuation - the happiness or sadness, excitement or boredom, resentment or acceptance, love or abuse that the children experienced during their time away from home. Along the way, the book addresses some of the fundamental questions raised by evacuation. How were relationships between children and parents affected by the long periods apart? What happened when brothers and sisters were separated? And how did the children feel when they went home? But the book looks at the adults too - at how the officials in charge of billeting and teachers got caught up in events, and at how civil servants and researchers became involved in the ensuing debates. As Welshman shows, the evacuation was to have a significant impact on shaping attitudes in the post-war world to everything from reconstruction and state intervention to poverty, social class, and the welfare state. However, the analysis aside, what this book perhaps offers above all is a highly evocative portrait of a very different Britain, reminding us just how much has changed in the seventy years since the Second World War.
The second edition of my Underclass book (2006) was published by Bloomsbury on 10 October 2013.
It includes a new chapter on 'Troubled Families and the Coalition Government', and a revised one on 'Problem Families and the Labour Governments'.
It tries to look at the Coalition Government's initiative on troubled families in light of the reconstruction of the concept of the 'underclass' since the 1880s, in both the UK and the US.
My previous book Titanic: The Last Night of a Small Town (Oxford, Oxford University Press, March 2012) was published on 15 March 2012.
The book reconstructs the sinking through the narratives of 12 passengers and crew members. It was historian Walter Lord in A Night to Remember (1955) who described the sinking of the Titanic as 'the last night of a small town'. My book both builds upon and challenges Lord's famous account. First, it re-balances the narrative, covering First, Second, and Third Class; women as well as men; children as well as adults; crew members as well as passengers; and people from countries other than Britain and America. Second, the book offers not just a minute-by-minute depiction of events, but explores themes - the ship's construction, social class, migration, radio - thereby employing and extending the metaphor of a small town.
The book features the stories of both crew and passengers. The featured crew includes the Second Officer; a Stewardess; the young Assistant Wireless Operator; and the Captain of the Carpathia liner. There are eight featured passengers in all - an amateur military historian and governess in First Class; a teacher in Second; a domestic servant and mother in Third; and three children. What were their earlier histories, their hopes and anxieties? Who survived, and why, and who perished? What happened to these people in the years after 1912? And what can we learn from their accounts?
On the centenary of the sinking, it is the individual histories of twelve of the inhabitants of the small town that this book reconstructs. The book employs the rigorous, sceptical approach of the social historian, while at the same time retaining the vividness of the eye-witness account.
I was born in Banbridge, Co-Down, Northern Ireland in 1963, was educated at the Universities of York and Oxford, and am currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at Lancaster University.
One previous book was Churchill's Children: The Evacuee Experience in Wartime Britain (Oxford University Press, March 2010) which was based on 13 eye-witness accounts. The narrative opens with the children waiting to leave, highlights their experiences while they were away, and closes with their return home. In between, it shows the varied nature of their experiences, whether they were ones of happiness or sadness, excitement or boredom, resentment or acceptance, love or abuse.
I am the author or editor of five other books on twentieth-century British social history:
Municipal Medicine: Public Health in Twentieth-Century Britain (Peter Lang, 2000)
Witnesses to Change: Families, Learning Difficulties, and History (British Institute of Learning Disabilities, 2005)
Community Care in Perspective: Care, Control, and Citizenship (Palgrave, 2006)
Underclass: A History of the Excluded, 1880-2000 (Continuum, 2006)
From Transmitted Deprivation to Social Exclusion: Policy, Poverty, and Parenting (The Policy Press, 2007, paperback edition 2012).
I am currently working on a book about Malawi, where I lived as a child in the early 1970s. I see the book as a mixture of history; travelogue; and family memoir.