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Date: Friday 9 February 2018
Time: 11:30 am - 12:30 pm
The propaganda posters of the Second World War have become cultural icons – most notably ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. We imagine the wartime landscape papered with morale-boosting exhortations designed to uplift the British people and keep them fighting the good fight.
This talk will unpick that myth to reveal a rather different version of how the Home Front was addressed by posters. Both government and people were very wary of propaganda, which was seen as totalitarian, un-British and tainted by its role in the First World War. The Ministry of Information’s early attempts at persuading the British nation – including Keep Calm - failed miserably, and for the rest of the war, they only produced informational and instructional designs, from ‘Dig For Victory’ to ‘Careless Talk Costs Lives’. People were told what to do, not what to think.
Yet propaganda posters still appeared, so where did they come from? Sources as diverse as London Transport and Bovril produced advertising aimed at rousing the national spirit, but the biggest source was the Army, which produced some of the best-known and most controversial images of the war, propaganda which may have changed the course of British history after the war ended.
Susannah Walker studied English Literature at Cambridge, followed by Design History at the Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum. After working as a curator then television producer, she now writes and lectures about design.
Susannah has published three non-fiction books: about contemporary ceramic design, 1950s modernism and Home Front Posters of WW2. She also runs a website, Quad Royal, about post-war graphic design and history.
Her latest book, The Life of Stuff will be published by Transworld in May 2018.
In collaboration with the National Army Museum
Free ticketed event. Booking is recommended: https://www.nam.ac.uk/whats-on/secret-life-propaganda-posters