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‘FOR US IT WAS HEAVEN’
Press Release / 2012-03-12 14:31:52
The Passion, Grief and Fortitude of Patience Darton
From the Spanish Civil War to Mao’s China
By Angela Jackson
“This is a biography of many facets offering a wealth of insight and textual content of particular relevance in the context of gender studies. It tells us much of the status of nurses in Britain in the 1930s. It is also an important contribution to the history of the International Brigades and the Republican medical services in the Spanish civil war and adds nuance to our knowledge of foreigners in China in a turbulent period of its history. The story of Patience will surely appeal to many general readers as well as to specialists in those fields.” From the Preface by Series Editor Paul Preston
Patience Darton’s unpublished letters and papers from 1930s Spain and 1950s China are at the heart of this biography, together with testimony from recorded interviews and a wealth of photographs that illustrate the life of this remarkable woman.
‘For us it was Heaven’ is the first full-length biography of an Englishwoman who worked as a nurse during the Spanish civil war and probably the only one to be written about a woman of any nationality serving in the International Brigades. It tells the story of a young, upper middle-class nurse in the 1930s who becomes dramatically caught up in Spain’s civil war and the passionate political issues of her times, but whose intimate writings reveal emotions and attitudes that will strike a chord with most self-aware and determined women today.
While Patience nursed near the front lines in Spain, she met and fell in love with Robert, a German International Brigader, deeply committed to the anti-fascist cause. Their passionate relationship coloured the rest of her long life, taking her to work in communist China for four years and then, finally, back to Spain.
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Angela Jackson, a doctor of History and author of British Women and the Spanish Civil War, has lived in Catalonia since 2001. Since then, her research on the interactions between civilians and the volunteers of the International Brigades has resulted in further books in English and Catalan. As president of the association No Jubilem la Memòria, she is involved in the production of film documentaries and other activities to recover the memory of the war.