British Posters of the First World War
- John Christopher
15th May 2014
Feel the full force of the propaganda that surrounded the British public during the First World War in this full-colour book exploring the art, themes and psychology of over 200 authentic posters from the period.
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During the First World War the authorities emulated the simple slogans and strong graphic imagery of advertising posters to create a form of mass communication that was easily and instantly understood by the British public. They were aimed at the mostly illiterate working class who did more than their share to feed the machinery of war. This book looks at the art of these posters and explores the themes that emerged throughout the course of the conflict. For the most part the posters were calls to action, starting with the initial period of voluntary enlistment and leading on to conscription. Psychologically they worked on several levels, appealing to a sense of duty or tapping into feelings of guilt. Patriotic fervour was heightened by the appearance of the Union Jack, the king and, most enduringly perhaps, the iconic image of Lord Kitchener. In addition, propaganda posters heaped on the pressure with scenes of German atrocities, such as the sinking of the Lusitania and the spectre of Zeppelin raids on England. Those not directly involved in the fighting were also urged to do their part; the women in particular by sending their men to the front or working in the munitions factories or on the land. Even children had a part to play - 'Daddy, what did YOU do in the war?' Money is another recurring theme, with war savings and bonds financing the war effort and countless charities appealing for funds to care for the wounded and war orphans.