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Vera Brittain

  • ... most of us have to be self-righteous before we can be righteous.

  • Why, I wonder, do people who at one time or another have all been young themselves, and who ought therefore to know better, generalize so suavely and so mendaciously about the golden hours of youth — that period of life when every sorrow seems permanent, and every set-back insuperable?

  • Few of humanity's characteristics are more disconcerting than its ability to reduce world-events to its own level, wherever this may happen to be.

  • ... belated maternity has had its compensations; small children have a habit of conferring persistent youth upon their parents, and by their eager vitality postpone the unenterprising cautions and timidities of middle age.

  • However deep our devotion may be to parents, or to children, it is our contemporaries alone with whom understanding is instinctive and entire ...

  • Venice is all sea and sculpture ...

  • All that a pacifist can undertake — but it is a very great deal — is to refuse to kill, injure or otherwise cause suffering to another human creature, and untiringly to order his life by the rule of love though others may be captured by hate.

    • Vera Brittain,
    • "What Can We Do in War Time?" in Forward ()
  • The tragedy of journalism lies in its impermanence; the very topicality which gives it brilliance condemns it to an early death. Too often it is a process of flinging bright balloons in the path of the hurricane, a casting of priceless petals upon the rushing surface of a stream.

  • ... few things are more rewarding than a child's open uncalculating devotion.

  • The joys of motherhood are not excessively apparent during the first few weeks of a baby's life.

  • So many people seem to imagine that because the actual tools of writing are easily accessible, it is less difficult than the other arts. This is entirely an illusion.

  • The idea that it is necessary to go to a university in order to become a successful writer, or even a man or woman of letters (which is by no means the same thing), is one of those phantasies that surround authorship.

  • Nevertheless, hateful as saying 'No' always is to an imaginative person, and certain as the offence may be that it will cause to individuals whose own work does not require isolated effort, the writer who is engaged on a book must learn to say it. He must say it consistently to all interrupters; to the numerous callers and correspondents who want him to speak, open bazaars, see them for 'only' ten minutes, attend literary parties, put people up, or read, correct and find publishers for semi-literate manuscripts by his personal friends.

  • An author who waits for the right 'mood' will soon find that 'moods' get fewer and fewer until they cease altogether.

  • The best prose is written by authors who see their universe with a poet's eyes.

  • If the would-be writer studies people in their everyday lives and discovers how to make his characters in their quieter moods interesting to his readers, he will have learned far more than he can ever learn from the constant presentation of crises.

  • Definite gifts render their possessors capable of overcoming any obstacle this side of death; they create an impetus of far more genuine value than external advantages in some other career where the impulse to make use of them remains weak or non-existent. The work that one enjoys is the greatest source of happiness and vitality in life.

  • Politics are usually the executive expression of human immaturity.

  • I know one husband and wife who, whatever the official reasons given to the court for the breakup of their marriage, were really divorced because the husband believed that nobody ought to read while he was talking and the wife that nobody ought to talk while she was reading.

    • Vera Brittain,
    • in Jilly Cooper and Tom Hartman, eds., Violets and Vinegar ()

Vera Brittain, English writer, poet, pacifist

(1893 - 1970)

Full name: Vera Mary Brittain.