World War II Bombings at the BBC: Background information when reading Transcription

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Transcription

by Kate Atkinson

Transcription by Kate Atkinson X
Transcription by Kate Atkinson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2018, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2019, 368 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
Buy This Book

About this Book

World War II Bombings at the BBC

This article relates to Transcription

Print Review

Exterior of BBC's Broadcasting House after bombing on 15 October, 1940"Roughly speaking, for everything that could be considered an historical fact in this book, I made something up," writes Atkinson in an author's note at the end of Transcription. One thing she did not need to augment with fiction were the amazing stories of the British Broadcasting Company during World War II, many of which are related as still-vivid anecdotes during Juliet's postwar employment there.

The BBC offices and studios were considered to be likely targets for German bombing campaigns, so several departments—from Drama to Music and Variety—were transferred to various locations outside the city. Meanwhile, the producers and reporters who remained at BBC headquarters in London came to view the Criterion Theatre, the station's concert hall, as a sort of dormitory, where employees rode out much of the war by eating and sleeping where they also worked. Broadcasting House—located less than a mile from the Criterion--was indeed hit by a German bomb within the first few weeks of the Blitz campaign, while news reader Bruce Belfrage was on the air; he continued reading the news with the sound of explosions and sirens echoing behind him. Seven people died in that bombing and the fire that ensued. The BBC's studios at Broadcasting House were bombed again just two months later, as was the Maida Vale studio, farther west in London.

In her author's note, Atkinson relays an anecdote from novelist and BBC reporter George Beardmore's book Civilians at War, in which he recalls sitting outside the engineering room with a loaded shotgun, prepared to defend the studio against invasion. But the BBC also had contingency plans in place in case London became uninhabitable, including setting up operations in a disused funicular railroad tunnel in Bristol, whose structural integrity was tested by having the BBC Symphony Orchestra play in the space at full volume. In addition to Beardmore's journals, Atkinson recommends Penelope Fitzgerald's novel Human Voices, which offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the human dramas unfolding at the BBC during this incredibly strenuous time.

BBC's Broadcasting House after October 1940 bombing, courtesy of BBC Blogs

Filed under People, Eras & Events

Article by Norah Piehl

This "beyond the book article" relates to Transcription. It originally ran in October 2018 and has been updated for the April 2019 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join & Save $10!

Discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten. One-year membership: $29

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Blue Sky Kingdom
    Blue Sky Kingdom
    by Bruce Kirkby
    Who hasn't dreamed of escaping all of the trappings of today's modern life and finding a secluded, ...
  • Book Jacket: My Heart Underwater
    My Heart Underwater
    by Laurel Fantauzzo
    Corazon — Cory — Tagubio is a Filipina-American teenager living with her family in ...
  • Book Jacket: Black Sun
    Black Sun
    by Rebecca Roanhorse
    Reading the first book in a series is always difficult because readers know that, by definition, it ...
  • Book Jacket: Somewhere in the Unknown World
    Somewhere in the Unknown World
    by Kao Kalia Yang
    Resettled refugees are mostly invisible. Their needs are rarely publicized and their struggles are ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Stories from Suffragette City
    by M.J. Rose & Fiona Davis (editors)

    One City.
    One Movement.
    A World of Stories.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Exiles
by Christina Baker Kline

The author of Orphan Train returns with an ambitious, emotionally resonant historical novel.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win This Book!
Win Jack

Return to Gilead with Jack, the instant New York Times bestseller

Enter to win Marilynne Robinson's latest novel in her classic series.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I G I O Ear A O T O

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.