Dead Letters, Great War Stories
- Date: Wednesday, 24 April, 2019
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Free. You don't need to book.
Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Thorndon
- Contact Details:
Personal experiences of WW1
Using stories, letters and film, Dead Letters, Great War Stories brings to vivid life the personal experiences of the First World War.
Domestic censorship in New Zealand 1914 to 1920
Hear from archivist and historian Jared Davidson, who has just published Dead Letters: Censorship and Subversion in New Zealand 1914-1920 (Otago University Press), revealing the impact of domestic censorship on the lives of radicals, writers, and everyday people during wartime and beyond.
'Haiku' film documentaries about the Great War
Then enjoy a selection of films from Anna Cottrell’s TV series Great War Stories, which reveal moving personal stories in letters and diaries, including some that escaped the censors.
Great War Stories consist of five TV series of short personal stories told through letters and diaries, many held in the ATL, some from whānau.
Among eight ‘haiku’ documentaries are Leonard Hart’s harrowing letter about the horrors of Passchendaele that evaded the censors; and Te Puea’s refusal to send her men to fight ‘white men’s wars’.
Another victim of the State was young Victor Spencer, shot at dawn for desertion in spite of his letter pleading poor mental health.
After reading a family diary Gareth Farr, composer, wrote a cello concerto for three relatives killed on the Western Front. Katherine Mansfield writes movingly about the death of her brother Leslie Beauchamp.
About the speakers
An archivist by day and labour historian by night, Jared Davidson is an award-winning writer based in Wellington, New Zealand. Through social biography and history from below, Jared explores the lives of people often overlooked by traditional histories — from working-class radicals of the early twentieth century to prison convicts of the nineteenth.
Anna Cottrell’s been making documentaries for over 25 years. She hunts out people with a good story who face life’s challenges with courage and humour. Examples of this include her documentaries Wahine Disaster, 50 Years On (2018) and The Kiwi the Knight and the Qashqai (2018).