The Great War

The Great War: Letters Home, edited by John Stanford

Published by Mvusi Books, Makhanda

Date of publication: September 2020
ISBN 978-0-9869791-5-6 ebook ISBN 978-0-9869791-7-0
210mm x 148mm
Retail Price: R220.00

South African distribution: Blue Weaver Marketing and Distribution

International and ebook distribution African Books Collective



From 1913 to 1920, the Molteno-Murray family published a private journal called “Chronicle of the Family”. It appeared three times a year, providing news of the family scattered throughout South Africa, Britain, and Kenya – a means, as one of the editors put it, “of preventing the younger members growing up strangers to each other.” When war was declared in 1914, the Chronicle began to include letters from family serving in the military and medical corps in diverse contexts, including the war fronts in German East Africa and South West Africa, the trenches of France, and naval battles. News from home continued with accounts of life on a Karoo farm, a horse trek in Basotuland, a leftist political rally in London, and reminiscences of older family members.

About the editor:

John Stanford was born in 1929 on Inungi, his parents’ farm in East Griqualand, and has farmed all his life. He is over 90 now, still farming, and philosophical about most things except the weather.

John’s mother, Effie Anderson, was one of the Chronicle’s founding editors. In their home on their farm in East Griqualand was a collection of the Chronicles which Effie used to read to her six children. On later re-reading of the Chronicles, John was impressed by their eloquence and their “delightful respect and courtesy”. He decided to make a selection of these historical documents available to the many descendents of the Molteno and Murray families and a wider readership. After 100 years, the letters and accounts retain the immediacy of first-hand experience.