War Work

Hogan, Edward (2023). War Work. In: Melia, Joe ed. Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology. Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, 16. Bristol: Tangent Books, pp. 97–105.


'War Work' is a short fiction story (2500 words), which was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize 2023, and selected for the anthology. It is set on the moorlands of the North of England during the First World War, and tells of a meeting between Vanessa Bentley, a former-stockbroker's wife from Croydon, and Jane Young, the local wife of a broom-maker. Vanessa must tell Jane that her son, Amon, has died in battle. Vanessa's husband, Patrick - whose recent breakdown has seen him take on postal delivery duties for his war work - has been fabricating letters from Amon, and Vanessa has found these, along with a War Office notification of Amon's death.

The story is part of a cycle which explores masculinity and work in Britain. In this case, Vanessa has - on two occasions - to manage her husband's inability to work due to ill health, while Mrs Young's family's upward trajectory (facilitated by the sudden need for factory brooms) is cut short by international events.

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