The Imperial War Museum (IWM) celebrated its new fiction series inside Winston Churchill's historic war rooms last night (Tuesday 25th June).
The IWM's Wartime Classics series will be published in September, in a "real departure" from non-fiction for IWM Publishing, to mark the outbreak of the Second World War.
Guests at last night's event were given the rare opportunity to go behind the glass partitions of the bunker on a private tour of the Churchill War Rooms beneath the streets of Westminster.
The four launch titles from the IWM's archives were written either during or just after the Second World War, and have a wartime setting. Alan Jeffreys, senior curator for the Second World War at Imperial War Museums, found the four novels in the IWM library. He has written an introduction to each book setting out the context and wider historical background.
From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron, alongside Eight Hours from England by renowned Shakespearean actor, director and film star Anthony Quayle are both based on the authors' first-hand experiences.
Described by Antony Beevor as “undoubtedly one of the very greatest British novels of the Second World War”, Baron's debut offers “vivid and moving” account of preparations for D-Day and the advance into Normandy based on his experience of D-Day. Meanwhile Eight Hours from England is a candid account of operations in occupied Europe, based on his Quayle's experiences as a Special Operations Executive behind enemy lines in Albania.
Trial by Battle by David Piper, based on the National Portrait Gallery director's time in the Indian Army in Malaya where he was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as a POW, and murder mystery Plenty Under the Counter by playwright, author and artist Kathleen Hewitt, set against the backdrop of London during the Blitz, make up the series which will be published on Thursday 26th September 2019 in paperback, priced at £8.99.
Madeleine James, IWM publishing and brand licensing manager, told The Bookseller: "We’re extremely excited about launching the new Wartime Classics series later this year to tie in with the 80th anniversary of the Second World War. Fiction is a real departure for IWM Publishing – these forgotten gems from our archives are all beautifully written, by authors who experienced the war first hand. All four launch titles are evocative and deeply moving. We’re hoping they will bring new readers to IWM, and give these books the wider audience they so deserve."
Winston Churchill's War Rooms