New York: The Macmillan Company, 1940. Stated First Printing. Hardcover. Octavo, in brick-red, cloth-covered boards, with contrasting (black) square, lettered in red, to front board and spine. Bright copy with just a bit of light rubbing to extremities at spine caps and corner, two of which are bumped, but not significantly. One or two very small discolorations to boards - very small. Vera Brittain's signature only, in ink, underscored, to front free endpaper. Very Good. Item #74531
Testament of Friendship is a remarkable account of a deep and abiding literary friendship between two successful novelists. Brittain and Winifred, both deeply affected by the Great War, "...saw themselves, in a sense, as part of the generation of “surplus women”, who, as a result of the deaths in the war of three-quarters of a million British men, might never find husbands..." "Although we didn’t exactly grow up together,” Vera Brittain once wrote of her relationship with fellow writer Winifred Holtby, “we grew mature together and that is the next best thing.” For 16 years, ...the two women had enjoyed a close companionship. As friends they had been intimates. As writers they were the most decisive influences on each other’s work. It was a relationship, above all, that made significant contributions to the writing of two bestselling masterpieces, which have stood the test of time: Brittain’s memoir of the cataclysmic effect of the First World War on her generation, Testament of Youth, and Holtby’s South Riding, her novel about a Yorkshire community struggling in the grip of the Great Depression of the Thirties. After Holtby’s death, Brittain memorialised their friendship in a biography of Winifred which, she hoped, would remind people “of the glowing, radiant generous, golden creature whom we have lost”. This friendship has achieved iconic status, as an example of an emotionally and intellectually supportive relationship between two women, of a kind rarely recorded in literature...
In one important respect, however, the book fails to do Winifred justice. She had always been a proud defender of the right of single women to lead fruitful, independent lives. Yet, Vera, always defensive about the question of Winifred’s sexuality and unsubstantiated rumours that the two women had had a lesbian relationship, created an unconvincing heterosexual love story for Testament of Friendship, uniting Winifred with Harry Pearson, her childhood sweetheart, in a deathbed happy ending.."
(Mark Bostridge, The Daily Telegraph (UK) 15 Mar 2012).