Read about one woman’s true grit in the Second World War

You’ll love this collection of Frances Donaldson’s letters because though primarily a riveting read it is also an enduring love story

It’s a tale of wartime experience – a woman’s life on the homefront with farming, children, air raids, land girls, misogynism, courage and tenacity

Follow Frances Donaldson as she breaks into a man’s world in Britain in World War II

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It reads like a thriller. The letters themselves are so compelling - they have more or less made my December.


This is a book about wartime experience - air raids, land girls, shortages of everything from toilet paper and cigarettes to concrete and wire - and about one woman's courage and tenacity, but it is also a love story with a happy ending.

Charlotte Moore. The Oldie magazine

A moving must-read of feminism two generations before its time coupled with the real smell of Britain before and after Dunkirk.


I can't tell you how much I enjoyed A Woman's War. Frances Donaldson's personality in all its varied aspects just leaped from the pages and so - magnificently - did her bravery and determination. And the progress of the war was threaded through its pages in a manner which was as evocative as many books I've read.

Jose Manser

Frances Donaldson books include this latest addition:

Posthumously published, edited by Rose Deakin: Work on the Homefront in WW2.
The story of a woman who turns to farming at the outbreak of war.
This is a picture of a woman’s war, on the home front, not the battlefield. It shows some of the work done by women at home in World War II. At times this could be as hard and as important as that of the armed forces, other than those who were in action in the skies and on the frontline. The letters, published here as the last of the Donaldson books, give frank and caustic comments on how the administration of the war. An account of taking up farming, an entertaining story in itself, forays into social life and writing the first book by a writer who later came to be regarded as eminent in her field. This is war and endeavour based in the Engish countryside (a Warwickshire farm) seen through the perspective of a natural writer.
Frances Donaldson’s letters
The letters have been described as a ‘cracking good read’. You don’t have to be interested in war stories to enjoy it, although the picture of life in England during the war is vivid. Frances Donaldson later became a well-known writer and biographer but here you can enjoy her style and wit unfettered by thoughts of publication or libel. Her comments on government and the management of information resonate with much of today’s restlessness with politicians. A somewhat expanded version, with more photographs, appears as a blog on the website
For more Frances Donaldson, including unpublished essays, see A Woman’s War
Click to see more Frances Donaldson books
A list of Frances Donaldson books:
Approach to Farming (1941)
Four Years Harvest (1945)
Milk Without Tears (1955)
Farming in Britain Today (1969) with JGS Donaldson and Derek Barber
Freddy Lonsdale (1957)
Child of the Twenties (1962)
The Marconi Scandal (1962)
Evelyn Waugh: Portrait of a Country Neighbour (1967)
Actor Managers (1970)
Edward VIII (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974) — Won the Wolfson History Prize in 1974, and was the basis for the six-part television series Edward & Mrs. Simpson (1978).
P. G. Wodehouse (1982)
Yours Plum (1990) Letters of P.G. Wodehouse
The British Council (1984)
The Royal Opera House in the 20th Century (1988)
A 20th-Century Life (1992)