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The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall t see them lit again in our life-time . (Sir Edward Grey, British foreign secretary, 3 August 1914). When the Lamps Went Out presents a surprising, immediate, sometimes humbling, sometimes uplifting insight into what British society was reading about, and thinking, during the Great War. Journalism catches the moment, at the moment, and these stories drawn from the Guardian archive stretch across the century as signals from a lost world. We see Boy Scouts patrolling the British coasts, David Lloyd George addressing women war workers, Charlie Chaplin impersonators on the Euston Road and Vesta Tilley at the Ardwick Empire. We see suffragist nurses on the Western Front and Bolsheviks in Glasgow, Pathan soldiers in Flanders and Anglo-Japanese armies in China. We read of new techlogies -from picture houses to gas weapons, as well as John Buchan's best-sellers. We see small countries saved - and aliens persecuted. The bloody battles, defeats, and victories are all here but When the Lamps Went Out focuses on the women, men and children who lived, loved, defied, perished, and survived in the war to end all wars.
Nigel Fountain is a writer, broadcaster and journalist who has written for many publications including the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the New Statesman, the Oldie, the London Evening Standard, the New York Soho Weekly News, History Today, New Society, Oz magazine and Time Out. He was a commissioning editor on the Guardian Obituaries desk from 1994 to 2009. His books include two 'Voices from the Twentieth Century' volumes (Women at War and The Battle of Britain and the Blitz) and the award-winning World War II: The People's Story, all of which were based on archive material.