The Great War:The Standard History of the All-Europe Conflict

The Great War:The Standard History of the All-Europe Conflict, abbreviated to The Great War, was a periodical published weekly providing an informative telling of the actions of the war as it unfolded. The language and structure of the text, written by multiple authors, conformed to the contemporary style and tone akin to propaganda-based material whereby the Allies were portrayed as heroic and the Central Powers and villainous. As with any text of its kind, especially those that were written during the course of the war, it furnished the reader with a detailed rendering of events that took place throughout Europe, leaving no stone unturned and capturing the imaginations of a nation. In doing so it served a useful purpose; it provided insightful material for the reader whilst at the same time stirred a mixing pot of emotion and a general disliking of the peoples of the Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria, the last two joining after the commencement of the war. A contemporary reader believing it to be an honest representation of recently past events would, certainly by today's standards, see this voluminous work as a propaganda tool, educational in content but clever in delivery, with the ability to drive the British and Commonwealth people's patriotism through a challenging and difficult period of hardship and uncertainty.

Between 1914 to 1919, joint editors Herbert Wrigley Wilson and John Alexander Hammerton were "responsible for the compilation of the most extensive body of contemporary annals of the war that has been published in this country. The work in question contained no fewer than 7,000,000 words and some 12,000 pictorial documents,"[1] As the war developed, so did this publication. On a monumental scale. However, the veracity of this work by modern scholarly practice is seen as somewhat questionable and inaccurate. Even by the 1930's it was considered outdated and "although it remains a storehouse of information for future students of the period, 'The Great War,' as that set of thirteen massive volumes was called, would now require to be largely re-written in the light of later knowledge: a task beyond the means of private enterprise and of doubtful value to the ordinary reader today."[1] In whatever way it is interpreted by the present-day reader, transcribing a digital representation of this work is of major importance to ensure that future generations not only read a contemporary view of the war as it took place but also appreciate the magnitude of its undertaking at a time when the British peoples were embroiled in a bitter conflict that changed the nation, and indeed the world, forever.

The volumes[edit]

Periodicals published on a weekly basis over a lengthy period of time soon became numerous and were better served, as their own advertisements would say, in the cloth case or leather bindings for protection and, of course, quicker reference should one want to find a particular subject with ease. During the course of The Great War's run, it produced no fewer than 272 parts over 13 volumes. The early editions cost 6d (6 pence) each, later costing 7d, then 8d for the later editions. By present day money 8d is equivalent to £1.44.[2]

  • Volume I
— Parts 1 to 16
  • Volume VI
— Parts
  • Volume XI
— Parts
  • Volume II
— Parts 17 to 32
  • Volume VII
— Parts
  • Volume XII
— Parts
  • Volume III
— Parts 33 to 48
  • Volume VIII
— Parts
  • Volume XIII
— Parts
— Parts 49 to 64
  • Volume IX
— Parts
  • Volume V
— Parts
  • Volume X
— Parts

Binding advertisements[edit]

In the last part of each volume an advertisement, sometimes even two – one on the inside front cover and another on the inside back cover – would tell the reader how important it was to buy their bindings with minimal delay. Advertisements to buy the cloth or half leather bindings usually came with instruction on how to obtain them along with the associated costs involved. Where this was the case they would use terminology such as "The sooner you bind them, the better" and "There is no reason why you should put it off," in an attempt to ensure the reader parted with a further 2s 6d (£5.38) for the cloth and 4s 6d (£9.69) for the half leather versions. "Have it done to-day!" features prominently on the inside back cover of part 33 (the first part of Volume III) where the publishers are keen to "remind those whose first volume is already bound that the second volume, when bound also, will give them just as much pleasure and gratification; while those who have had neither bound we would urge to secure binding cases without delay, for THE GREAT WAR in volume form is easier to refer to, easier to handle, easier to protect from damage, and far better in every way than if it is left lying about in loose parts."[3] The full-page advertisements bears an image of the bindings, either cloth or half leather, and makes a point describing its aesthetic value, durable qualities and expense by stating that:

A work of the permanent character of THE GREAT WAR, a work which is destined to be read and re-read, not only by by the present but also by the next generation, deserves the most enduring binding that can be obtained, and for this purpose there is nothing to compare with the publishers' registered half leather binding. As durable as it is elegant, the Half Leather Case should be selected by all who can possibly afford it. It has a full gilt back, while the leather has been dyed a rich scarlet. The sides are reinforced at the corners with specially thick leather covering. At the same time the publishers realise that there are many whose choice, owing to considerations of expense, must be cloth or nothing at all, and for these they have prepared a cloth binding case which is as good as cloth can possibly be.[3]


  1. ^ a b John Alexander Hammerton (ed.) (1933). A Popular History of The Great War, Volume 1, The First Phase: 1914. The Fleetway House, London. p.3
  2. ^ Currency Converter The National Archives. (accessed 16 February, 2018).
  3. ^ a b H.W. Wilson & J.A. Hammerton (ed.) (1914–1919). The Great War:The Standard History of the All-Europe Conflict. Part 33, p.inside back cover. Amalgamated Press, Fleetway House, London.