Within my 1997 undergraduate dissertation, and my 2004 PhD thesis, I (unintentionally) provided the story of the now ubiquitous ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ (KCCO) poster (read an extract here), whilst I was writing about two very early posters produced by the British Government in the Second World War – Your Courage, and Freedom is in Peril. At the same time, the government produced KCCO, with the intention of saving it for use when under attack – and these were distributed in much greater quantities than the other posters (which might explain why the odd one made it onto the wall), but after so much negative kick-back on the other two posters, and with the benefit of some wisdom that we weren’t fighting “The Great War” any more, it was deemed inappropriate, and likely instructed to be pulped for it’s precious paper.
In 2009, I picked up that the ‘KCCO’ story had become ‘a thing’, and started following it on this blog, and managed to visit Barter Books a couple of times! Alongside, I was keen to publish my PhD thesis, and working on my book proposal in between jobs/job applications, and all the other fun of being a young academic. In September I finally sent the book proposal off to the Imperial War Museum (where my story starts with the purchase of a postcard of Women of Britain – Come Into the Factories), and by November, was being offered a book contract for a 20,000 word book that could be sold ‘as a present’ with the Imperial War Museum, giving more of the backstory – and with a plan to seek a joint publisher for a deeper book based more around the full PhD thesis… we’ll see if this comes off, but meantime – yesterday I signed the contract – to deliver 20,000 words by April 10th (so that’ll be my weekends gone then!)!
The working title for the short book is: Keep Calm and Carry On : The Truth Behind the Poster, with an anticipated launch in the autumn/winter 2017.
The full PhD can already be accessed in PDF form from The British Library