The Waltons: A democratic marriage<sup>1</sup>

James Hinton

in Nine Wartime Lives

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199574667
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191702167 | DOI:
The Waltons: A democratic marriage1

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This chapter focuses on wartime diarists Matthew and Bertha Walton. For Matthew and Bertha Walton, a school teacher and his wife living in a small town in the Durham coalfield, Mass-Observation was a joint enterprise. Among the reasons they gave for joining in 1937 was that it was something they could do together, and one of the pleasures of their diary is the insight it gives into a particularly companionate and democratic marriage. When they joined MO in 1937 they were both intensely involved in left-wing politics. After the outbreak of war their paths diverged. Matthew, always inclined to deplore the ‘sheep-like docility’ of the masses, became increasingly despondent about the efficacy of socialist politics in Britain, and sought solace in self-isolating literary and artistic pursuits. In contrast, Bertha's war was a time of liberation, and she wrote with delight about her new and unexpected experiences in wartime employment, and with stoical determination about her continuing Labour Party activism.

Keywords: wartime diaries; diarists; Second World War; Matthew Walton; Bertha Walton; marriage; married couples

Chapter.  10613 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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