What We Do

Every year, we celebrate and commemorate the lives and sacrifices of those who have fought and fallen in service for their country. Still, we know little about the lives and experiences of the wives and families that service personnel and veterans leave behind. They are not commemorated as heroes. We do not talk about their fights and struggles when we remember the wars Great Britain has fought over the centuries.

This is why Dr Nadine Muller, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and author of The Widow: A Literary & Cultural History (2017), is collaborating with the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain (WWA), an organisation that has been working tirelessly to improve the conditions of war widows and their dependants since 1971.

Together, we want to raise awareness of the everyday lives of war widows, past and present. War Widows’ Stories will give war widows and their close relatives the opportunity to tell their stories, be trained as interviewers to record the memories of others, and to learn about how war widows’ lives have changed over the centuries.

We will train our volunteer interviewers and begin conducting interviews in January 2017. Once we have collected, edited, and uploaded all the material we have gathered, we will celebrate War Widows’ Stories in an official launch event in November 2017. To stay up to date with our progress, visit our news pages, and subscribe to our email updates by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom right of your screen.

The project is funded by a Sharing Heritage award from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

What You Can Find on This Website

At the moment, this website will keep you up to date with news about the project. You can also learn about the history of war widowhood in Britain on our History pages. In our Library you can find out about novels, poetry, art, and newspaper articles that feature war widows.

Once we have trained our volunteers in oral history interviewing in January 2017, we will begin posting recordings and transcripts of interviews with war widows and their close relatives. You’ll be able to find them on the Stories pages of the website.

If you’d like to be notified by email whenever we post new material on the website, you can subscribe to updates by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom right of your screen.

For this first stage of the project, volunteers must be members of the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain. If you are a member of the WWA and would like to be involved with the project, please take a look at our call for volunteers. We plan to widen our participation in future. If you are interested in being involved in the project in any way at a later stage, please do get in touch with us.

Who We Are

War Widows’ Stories is a collaborative project between Dr Nadine Muller (Liverpool John Moores University) and the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain, and it is supported by a Sharing Heritage grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Dr Nadine Muller is the project leader for War Widows’ Stories. She is Senior Lecturer in English Literature & Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University, and she is the author of The Victorian Widow: A Literary & Cultural History, which will be published by Liverpool University Press in 2018. She is a BBC New Generation Thinker and has presented programmes on the history of widowhood for BBC Radio 3’s The Essay and Free Thinking as well as having made a short film on Victorian widows for BBC Arts. You can find all about Nadine and her work on her blog: http://www.nadinemuller.org.uk. If you’d like to get in touch about War Widows’ Stories, you can do so by emailing her through this form.

Dr Ailbhe McDaid is the research assistant for War Widows’ Stories. She is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool, and she is currently working on a new project on women in Irish conflict literature of the twentieth century. Her monograph The Poetics of Migration in Contemporary Irish Poetry has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Ailbhe is a fully-trained, experienced oral historian research, and her research interests include topics such as migration, technology, gender, Northern Irish writing, and popular culture.

The War Widows’ Association of Great Britain (WWA) was formed in 1971 and today has around 3,000 members. Its original aim was to fight for the removal of the tax burden from the War Widows’ Pension. An article in a Sunday newspaper in 1971 highlighted the plight of Britain’s “forgotten women”. Laura Connelly, who returned to live in this country from Australia, where the War Widows’ Pension was tax-free, refused to pay tax and found herself in dispute with the Inland Revenue. The fourteen ladies who supported her formed the Association under the first chairman, Jill Gee. Partial success was achieved in 1976 with the removal of half the tax and the remainder went in 1979. The Association became a registered charity in 1991, and it achieved one of its main aims – parity of pensions for all war widows – in 2015. The Prince of Wales is the WWA’s patron, and its Vice Presidents are Baroness Dean of Thornton le Fylde, the Rt. Hon. Viscount Younger of Leckie, and Baroness Garden of Frognal. The President of the WWA is Baroness Fookes, DBE, DL. The WWA is managed by a committee of trustees. It does not have any paid staff or permanent offices. You can find out more about the WWA and its activities and achievements on their website at http://www.warwidows.org.uk.

The Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. You can find out more about HLF at http://www.hlf.org.uk and via @heritagelottery. Sharing Heritage is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are now available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.

Press Release

Below you can find the press release for our project and its funding. If you’d like to have a custom article, conduct and interview with us about the project, or require images or other information, please contact us here

War Widows’ Stories Project Celebrates Award from Heritage Lottery Fund

What is it like to be a war widow in Britain? Every year we celebrate and commemorate the lives and sacrifices of those who have fought and fallen in service for our country. Still, we know little about the experiences of the wives and families they leave behind.

This is why Dr Nadine Muller, Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and author of The Widow: A Literary & Cultural History (2017), is working with the War Widows’ Association of Great Britain (WWA), an organisation that has been fighting to improve the conditions of war widows and their dependants since 1971.

Together, they want to raise awareness of the everyday lives of war widows, past and present. The project – called War Widows’ Stories – will give war widows and their close relatives the opportunity to tell their stories, be trained as interviewers to record the memories of others, and to learn about how war widows’ lives have changed over the centuries.

The interviews will be available in print and on the War Widows’ Stories website (http://www.warwidowsstories.org.uk) alongside a wealth of material that brings to life the history of war widowhood in Britain.

The project has now been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Sharing Heritage grant of £9,800. Commenting on the award, Dr Muller said: “War widowhood is an inevitable and undeniable, yet largely ignored, part of war. We want the War Widows’ Stories project to help afford these women their rightful place in history by making their stories heard”.

Mrs Mary Moreland, Chair Elect and Public Relations Officer of the WWA, said a project like this was long overdue, and the Association is excited to work with Dr Muller: “Part of our mission to improve the lives of war widows and their families is raising awareness of their circumstances and of what life is like as a war widow. Our members have so many different stories to tell – we are thrilled they will finally have the chance to share them”.

Nathan Lee, Head of HLF North West, said: “At Remembrance-tide, so many stories are told to ensure we do not forget those who lost their lives in the conflicts of the twentieth century and today. Now, this new project, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will mean that the LJMU and WWA can do more to shine a light on the lives and stories of those war widows left behind and honour their place in history”.