It used to be that every PhD thesis was automatically collected by the British Library (in hard copy), but as the number of PhD’s have increased, this policy changed (around the time that I finished mine, 2004), and University Libraries were asked to keep a copy of each PhD thesis (which they generally already did), and make it available to the British Library if requested. I was informed by the University of Winchester library that as my thesis had been requested “enough” times (no, I don’t know what “enough” is), that my thesis had therefore been digitised by the British Library and here is it’s catalogue entry – there’s also copies at the Imperial War Museum and Mass-Observation, as well as still in the University Library – and I have more than one copy! Just need to find the time to turn it into a book…Tweet
According to a remarkable PhD thesis by Rebecca Lewis:
‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was printed and held in reserve for when the necessity arose, for example, a severe air-raid, although it was never actually displayed.
Lewis does not say why it was held back. It may be that the tone seemed right before the German tanks rolled into Poland, but that, once the war had actually begun, it lacked the sense of urgency demanded by the premonition of total war.
But she does quote from contemporary evidence that the two posters that were used were widely disparaged. According to Mass-Observation:
‘Your Courage’ was the second most-mentioned remembered slogan … it still existed everywhere, and was deemed mostly annoying and inappropriate for the wartime situation. The wording of ‘Your Courage … will bring us victory’ was criticised. There was some evidence the combination of ‘your’ and ‘us’ ‘suggested to many people that they were being encouraged to work for someone else’, with the ‘your’ referring to the civilian, the ‘us’ to the Government … ‘Freedom is in Peril’ was also deemed ineffective, blamed on ‘the abstractness of the words, not one of which had any popular appeal’.
“Freedom is in Peril” has also enjoyed a bit of postmodern popularity, partly in the wake of the “Keep Calm” fashion. But it wasn’t taken at face value at the time:
The Times had described the posters as ‘egregious and unnecessary exhortations’, ‘insipid and patronising invocations’, which were unneeded and wasteful of funds, comparing the posters unfavourably to those produced by the French.
Read the full blog entry.
Note: Yes, I am catching up on the summer’s Google Alerts!Tweet
SOME OF THE GREAT QUOTES HIGHLIGHTED IN THIS BOOK:
- “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions” Ellen Glasgow
- “Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes, and adversity is not without comforts and hopes” Francis Bacon
- “Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats” Voltaire
- “The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them” Bernard M Baruch
- “It ain’t no use putting up your umbrella til it rains” Alice Caldwell Rice
- “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow” Swedish proverb
- “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you” Dale Carnegie
- “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory” Albert Schweitzer
- “Failures are finger posters on the road to achievement” C.S. Lewis
- “When written in Chinese the word ‘Crisis’ is composed to two characters – one represents danger and the other represents opportunity” John F Kennedy
- “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship” Benjamin Franklin
- “Make money your god and it will plague you like the devil” Henry Fielding
Plenty more quotes in that little book, so to win one of 10 copies…
The QUESTION IS: Who was the Studio Manager at the British Ministry of Information during the Second World War? (Clue, check out http://www.ww2poster.co.uk)
THE CHANCE TO WIN? As I have somewhat of a love-affair with Twitter, I’ll be giving away 10 copies to a random set of ten Twitterers who Retweet the following entry:
RT @drbexl, Keep Calm and Carry On #kcco, www.ww2poster.co.uk. MOI Studio Manager: [answer] (Answer/RT for chance to win 1 of 10)
The 10 winners will be announced via my Twitter on the afternoon of Monday 20th July (GMT). Winners will be sent their prizes direct from the publishers (they’ve said they’re happy to ship worldwide), but will need to email me names/addresses, which I will request via Twitter (I will pass them onto the publishers and won’t use them for other purposes).Tweet
I’ve been talking to the New York Times, as Rob Walker’s Consumed Column will be discussing the Keep Calm and Carry On poster on 12th July (I’ll have a link once I know), and in going through the Fact Checking today, we were talking about the numbers of posters produced. Keep Calm and Carry On was produced alongside ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution’ and ‘Your Freedom is in Peril: Fight for it Now’. In my thesis, when only the ‘Your Courage’ poster was really known, there was some reference to the ‘Keep Calm’ poster, but it’s only truly come into the public consciousness late 2008 as the recession truly started to bite (although Barter Books had been producing the design for 10 years), although more of the Keep Calm posters were produced than any of the other 2… and I wonder how many of them now exist, as they will now be worth much more than they used to be!
By 23 August the proportions to be printed were decided. The percentages were: ‘Freedom is in Peril’ (for remote areas), 12%; ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’, 65%; and ‘Your Courage, etc.’, 23%.
Demand for Printing Slip for HMSO, 31/8/39 for MOI. ‘Keep Calm’, ‘Your Courage’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’, from The National Archives, INF 1/226
|1,800||20’ x 10’|
|2,100||13’4 x 10’|
|11,000||6’8 x 10’|
|1,000||6’8 x 5’||Broadside|
|2,500||60” x 40”||Upright|
|9,000||60” x 40”||Broadside|
|875||30” x 40”||Broadside|
|700||40” x 25”|
|496,500||30” x 20”|
|427,600||20” x 15”||Upright|
|1,486,000||15” x 10”||Upright|
|8,000||22” x 22”|
|950||20’ x 10’|
|1,250||13’4 x 10’|
|5,600||6’8 x 10’|
|2,500||6’8 x 5’||Broadside|
|3,750||60” x 40”||Upright|
|4,500||60” x 40”||Broadside|
|375||30” x 40”||Broadside|
|300||40” x 25”|
|137,500||30” x 20”|
|130,000||20” x 15”||Upright|
|550,000||15” x 10”||Upright|
|Quantity||Description||Freedom is in Peril|
|200||20’ x 10’|
|300||13’4 x 10’|
|2,500||6’8 x 10’|
|1,750||6’8 x 5’|
|3,500||60” x 40”||Upright|
|66,000||30” x 20”|
|62,400||20” x 15”||Upright|
|264,000||15” x 10”||Upright|
London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design OK, so maybe I’m going for the easy entries over the next few days, but I’ve got plenty to add on bits and pieces. I tried to get my original research material out from storage today, but it’s going to have to wait…. I have lots materially digitally stored!
London Transport Museum’s Exhibition ‘The Art of the Poster‘ finished last week, and was accompanied by the book London Transport Posters: A Century of Art and Design, for which I wrote a chapter (finishing as much as I could do in an internet cafe in Melbourne, Australia!). London Transport Museum are notoriously protective of their copyright, so it was a great chance to continue some research on further posters… I still get excited when I see a poster I’ve not seen before, or even one I have seen before making it’s way into the modern public domain… such as the Keep Calm and Carry On posters! My thesis focused largely on posters produced by the Ministry of Information, but they called upon the expertise of organisations such as London Transport and Shell in the formation of the Ministry of Information, as these organisations had demonstrated a proficiency in publicity. It was also interesting to study First World War posters, to which I’d referred in my thesis (noting that they were far more King & Country whereas the Second World War was a much more democratic effort), as the chapter was about wartime posters, not just the Second World War. LTM had been working on digitising their poster collection whilst I was doing my PhD research, and the materials launched online whilst I was writing this chapter. My PhD research had turned up some really interesting information which the London Transport archives didn’t have (and I spent some time both in Covent Garden and the main archives, along with the V&A, and we had meetings out at Acton… some great materials stored there), so really felt I made a good contribution. My chapter ended up as a joint publication as David Bownes completed it whilst I was hopping around New Zealand, before I proof read it in the midst of Bolivia, after a great day blowing up dynamite in the silver mines, before returning in time for the book/exhibition launch in October!
Further Resources (in no particular order)
- New Statesman: Mass Market Modernism, November 2008
- The Guardian Gallery, November 2007
- The Museum of London: Exploring 20th Century London (undated, but clearly a summary of the book)
- Comparing BART and LT, April 2009
- The Design Museum: London Transport
- Suite 101, January 2009
- Culture 24, December 2008
- Flickr: London Transport posters throughout the Years
- Flickr: London Underground cluster
- If you want a chance to buy some originals, there’s always Onslows
V&A, 12th-13th June, 1998
The effectiveness of the poster as a publicity medium and the pervasiveness of the poster image were examined in the context of developments in 20th century graphic communication.
The conference examined the history of the poster from the ‘artistic’ posters of the late 19th century, to the large-scale billboard campaigns of the modern day, which are an inescapable feature of the modern landscape.
Margaret Timmers edited a great text “The Power of the Poster” to accompany the conference and exhibition.
Further Links from the V&ATweet