The relationship between Ford, Kipling, Conan Doyle, Wells and British propaganda of the First World War
This thesis resituates the war-writing of Ford Madox Ford, Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells in relation to official British propaganda produced during the First World War. Examining these authors' institutional connections with propaganda that was authorised by the British government locates some of their texts within a network of materials that were deployed to justify Britain's involvenlent in the war. The British government, via the War Propaganda Bureau, approached major literary figures to assist in its plan to compete vigorously with Germany to win American support. Positioning Ford's condemnation of Prussian culture within this institutional context reveals that his officially commissioned books functioned as a part of the larger yet-covert government project to influence American intellectual opinion. Although wary that Kipling's chauvinism might offend some readers, the British government reprinted and distributed his denunciations of the 'Hun'. Kipling was given access to censored letters from Indian soldiers in order to assist him in depicting the Imperial forces as united. The result, The Eyes of Asia (1918), was a set of fictional texts by Indian soldiers celebrating French and English civilisation in contrast to German barbarism. In addition to official propaganda, these authors produced pro-war stories, poems, and articles independent of direct government commission. Conan Doyle's formal call for men to volunteer to defend their country, and his public denunciations of German atrocities, were followed by his recruitment of Sherlock Holmes to repel a possible German invasion ("His Last Bow" (1917)). Adding to his support for the war in his journalism and war-time fiction, Wells was appointed the Head of Enemy Propaganda for the newly formed Ministry of Information. He resigned almost immediately following disagreements over government strategy. This project situates historically and examines critically these authors' differing roles in relation to British propaganda efforts during the First World War.
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