Sing as We Go: Britain Between the Wars

5.00pm Wednesday, 20th September 2023 (1 hour)
Simon Heffer

Sing As We Go is an astonishingly ambitious overview of the political, social and cultural history of the country from 1919 to 1939. It explores and explains the politics of the period, and puts such moments of national turmoil as the General Strike of 1926 and the Abdication Crisis of 1936 under the microscope. It traces the changing face of Britain as cars made their first mass appearance, the suburbs sprawled, and radio and cinema became the means of mass entertainment. It probes the deep divisions that split the nation, between warring ideological factions, and between those who promoted accommodation with fascism in Europe and those who bitterly opposed it.

The book takes its title from one of the most significant films of the period, Sing As We Go, released in 1934 and starring Gracie Fields, the most popular star of the era. Thinly disguised socialist propaganda (it was written by J B Priestley), it was seen by millions and sent a message that Britain's workers would seize the destiny of their country after the economic depression of the early 1930s and steer it to better days. Ironically it would be the threat of war, and then war itself, that got Britain back to work.