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The theme of motherhood dominated public discussions about the role of women during and after the First World War. The new attention that the wartime state paid to women’s productive labour outside their homes did little to overshadow the continued significance that society placed on their role in reproducing the men required to fight. When we consider the way in which mothers of soldiers and potential soldiers entered public conversations about modern, total war, a rich and complex picture of women’s politics emerges.

This lecture will explore the varied voices of mourning British mothers during the First World War in order to uncover how they represented their national service and intensely personal sacrifice in their deepening engagement with public political debate.  

This is a free but ticketed event. Click 'Book Now' below to register for your ticket.

Registration: 18.00-18:30

Lecture: 18.30-20:00

Susan R. Grayzel received her AB Magna cum laude with Highest Honors in History and Literature from Harvard University and her MA and PhD in Late Modern European History from the University of California at Berkeley. She is Professor of History at Utah State University and the author of Women’s Identities at War: Gender, Motherhood, and Politics in Britain and France during the First World War (1999); Women and the First World War (2002); The First World War: A Brief History with Documents (2012); and At Home and Under Fire: Air Raids and Culture in Britain from the Great War to the Blitz (2012). Among her publications during the centenary are essays in the three volume Cambridge History of the First World War (2014) and the second edition of the Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War (2014).  Her most recent publication on the war is the volume Gender and the Great War (2017), which she co-edited with Tammy M. Proctor.

This public lecture is part of the Motherhood, Loss and the First World War conference on 5 - 6 September 2018, led by Big Ideas, the London Centre for Public History, and the Institute of Historical Research. You can book tickets to the conference here. A second evening event will be held on Thursday 6 September. Click here for more details

To join the Motherhood, Loss and the First World War community project, visit  

Image: A soldier greeted on the door step by his mother as he arrives home on leave. Creator: Nicholls, Horace  © IWM (Q 30402) - IWM Non Commercial Licence