Eleanor Humphries: Serving genius

James Hinton

in Nine Wartime Lives

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199574667
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191702167 | DOI:
Eleanor Humphries: Serving genius

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This chapter focuses on wartime diarist Eleanor Humphries. The face Eleanor Humphries presented to the world in the photograph she sent to Mass-Observation is that of a well turned-out housewife, looking younger than her forty years, proudly framed in the doorway of her modern semi-detached house. But her voluminous diaries, covering the first four years of the war, tell a very different story. Behind the house-proud image lay a woman whose self-development had been crippled by the most patriarchal of marriages. She used her diaries to monitor every fluctuation in the state of her personal relationships, with her husband, parents, servants, friends, and colleagues. She had a novelist's eye for the quirks of individual appearance, behaviour, emotional state, and social caste, and a particular sensitivity to the play of eroticism in everyday life. But the diaries also reveal an emotional life beset by jealousy, suspicion, and insecurity.

Keywords: Eleanor Humphries; wartime diaries; diarists; Second World War; marriage

Chapter.  10438 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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