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:: Housewife, 49

Nella Last is the ‘Housewife, 49’ of this DVD title of this much acclaimed ABC drama was exactly that; a working-class housewife in Barrow-in-Furness, England. Nella was forty-nine at the start of World War Two, when she volunteered to keep a diary as part of Mass-Observation. This was a long term British social research project which ran for many years beginning in 1937.

Originally, researchers wanted to know how ordinary people really felt and reacted to events, and about five hundred volunteered. A shy, depressed Midland housewife named Nella began her correspondence and ended up writing nearly two million words during the war. Part of that was due to sharing her fears that she wouldn’t be able to cope with the enlistment of her sons and the demands of her domineering husband.

She volunteered for the local Women’s Voluntary Service, a charitable organization which eventually saw her running a kind of thrift shop to benefit Prisoners of War in Germany, taking it on with a great deal of cheerful and authoritative purpose.

Nella Last discovered her own innate strengths and abilities as she tried to keep some kind of home life going for the benefit of her husband and sons… and herself. This DVD presents a moving and well written story into the life of the women of the home front.

DVD Extras

Background on the UK's Mass Observation project
Text interview with Victoria Wood
Cast filmographies