[HISTORY] Keep Calm and Carry On

keepcalm2I’m currently scanning in some of my paperwork from what was then The Public Record Office, now The National Archives, and found the start of this interesting letter from 17th July 1939 (from AP Waterfield to Ivison Macadam):

I am troubled about this Poster Question. We must get the right idea across, and so far I can’t feel that we have got it at all. The “Keep Steady”, “Keep Calm”, doesn’t, I feel sure, hit it off: it’s too commonplace to be inspiring, and it may even annoy people that we should seem to doubt the steadiness of their nerves. And worst of all, it implies that we are on the inferior side, on the defensive from the start against a superior enemy who have already seized the initiative. That surely is all wrong. What we need, I feel sure, is a rallying war-cry that will bring out the best in everyone of us and put us in an offensive mood at once.

From INF 1/226. Read more about the first posters from the Second World War.


Austerity Era Cushions

heraldic-needlepointHeraldic Needlepoint’s Austerity Era cushion designs are all taken from posters issued by various departments of the British Government during previous periods of austerity (stylistically, the last 3 are First World War, the remainder are Second World War)

  1. Dig for Victory
  2. Dig on for Victory
  3. Dig for Plenty
  4. Make Do and Mend
  5. Make Do and Mend (Mrs Sew-and-Sew)
  6. Go Through Your Wardrobe
  7. Freedom is in Peril: Defend it with all your might
  8. Keep Calm and Carry On
  9. Save Kitchen Scraps to Feed the Hens
  10. Save Kitchen Waste to Feed the Pigs
  11. We Want Your Kitchen Waste
  12. Don’t Take Alcoholic Drinks
  13. To Dress Extravagently in Wartime
  14. Rally Round the Flag: Every Fit Man Wanted

Please note: These images are reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives and The Imperial War Museum who own the reproduction rights and these images may not be reproduced without their permission.

The Austerity Era cushions cost £ 34.99 plus postage
Alerted by this media release.


The Art of War at The National Archives (2005)

Whilst The National Archives were looking for artist biography material, they came across my website, read about my PhD thesis, and decided they needed my expertise. I was contracted in as an editorial consultant.

Following any necessary extra research, I wrote the following content for the site:

  • About 95% of the captions, and the group descriptions, for the illustrations and propaganda sections
  • The information on INF 3 and the Ministry of Information
  • Much of the information on artists was taken from my website, plus I did further research, and wrote some of the entries.

The images and original records are free to view and are available on As well as downloading the artwork and the history behind it, online visitors could send selected images to their mobile phone or as e-cards. Visitors can also arrange to visit The National Archives to see the originals, others in the collection, and the finished posters.


Second World War posters continue to fascinate many!

National Archives: The Art of War

The National Archives: The Art of War
In 2005, whilst The National Archives were looking for artist biography material, they came across my website, read about my PhD thesis, and decided they needed my expertise. I was contracted in as an editorial consultant. It was a great opportunity to go behind the scenes at the National Archives (where “all” (well, about 3% per year) of government records are housed at Kew. I’d already spent weeks at the National Archives (along with weeks at Colindale, the Imperial War Museum and Mass-Observation, with shorter stints at other archives), but continued with some further research, and then wrote the following content for the site:

Saatchi and Saatchi
Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide has picked up on the Keep Calm and Carry On poster (and I am pleased to say, has referenced my work, as did Barter Books in the first instance!)… it is an inspiring poster, particularly for 2009, even if it never came into play during the war years!

Keep Calm-o-Matic
Make your own version of the slogan using an online generator! No wonder there’s so many different versions out there… get parody-ing!  Here’s what I generated


news@winchester: The Winchester Staff Newsletter

Article in news@winchester: The Winchester Staff Newsletter, 2005