The World is my Country

Preliminary drawing for the Archibald Bodkin poster

A visual celebration of the people and movements that opposed the First World War, featuring the graphic art of Emily Johns

“[We] will break before we bend … The world is my country” – Derby anti-war activist Alice Wheeldon, who was framed for plotting to murder the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, in a letter from prison, February 1917.

The First World War centenary (2014-2018) will be accompanied by a tidal wave of events, exhibitions, TV series, books and commemorations. However, one key aspect of the War’s history is almost certain to receive little or no attention: the history and stories of the people and organisations that opposed the conflict.

Moreover, this history – of police raids and buried documents, feminist peace initiatives and clandestine printing presses, striking German munitions workers and communities of resistance in Huddersfield, Hackney, and Bradford (among other places) – appears to be largely unknown even to contemporary activists.

To help counter this omission Peace News (PN) will research and produce a series of ten highly-visual colour posters, celebrating key figures and events from the First World War anti-war movement – including figures and events from Germany & the Global South – bringing their stories and chutzpah alive for a new generation.

These posters will be distributed widely at WW1-related events throughout 2014 as well as serialised inPN itself.

If you would like to help fund this project and receive copies of the posters please go to Kickstarter

Emily's work desk & some preliminary sketches

Emily’s work desk & some preliminary sketches

Stories include:

  • a secret soldiers’ pact to shoot to injure rather than to kill;
  • the gleeful, even mischievous, appropriation of a pompous prosecutor’s words for use as anti-war propaganda;
  • the network of refuges for war resisters on the run in Sheffield, Liverpool, and Leicester;
  • the jailing of one of the century’s greatest philosophers (who had already been dismissed from his college and banned from “prohibited areas” amounting to one-third of Britain for his anti-war activities, and who subsequently managed to smuggle a letter out of jail, hidden in the uncut pages of the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society);
  • the conscientious objectors shipped to France and sentenced to death, saved by the sexual charisma of a famous aristocrat;
  • the Jamaican man who refused to be conscripted on the grounds that the European Powers “have oppressed and tyrranised over my fellow-men” while “I am not given ordinary privileges as a citizen”.