One of the principle areas of concentration for our collecting is the First World War. The war years marked a rude introduction into the twentieth century and caused a tremendous outpouring of literature, social comment, and practical pamphlets on subjects ranging from victory gardens to what to do in case of a gas attack. The amount of literature generated by the war both during and after the fighting is phenomenal. It was a literary war, and it is likely that no event has lodged itself in the modern memory like the Great War. In particular, the Great War holdings include such important writers as Rupert Brooke, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden, David Jones, and Henri Barbusse.
There are both handwritten and published diaries, letters, and photograph albums detailing the lives and experiences of the soldiers, airmen and sailors from a wide variety of nations involved in the conflict, as well as revealing looks at life at home. Most of these were not particularly famous, while others, such as “Toby”, better known as Oswald Watt – a noted Australian aviator and businessman, had their own moments in the light.
These works by actual participants in the fighting are complemented by over 1,500 books written on the war including regimental histories, official histories, training manuals and military pamphlets, as well professionally published photograph albums, stereoscope cards and so on.
There is also an array of more artifactual and ephemeral materials such as recruiting posters, personal equipment, trench maps, trench newspapers, POW newspapers, and the coded Austro-Hungarian and German diplomatic correspondence from the July Crisis of 1914.
– A Guide to Literary and Related Materials