Parliamentary Recruiting Committee poster no. 79, 1914–15

Christmas cards, letters, cartoons, posters and the manuscripts of celebrated war poets are among the collection on display for the first time in Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour in the Folio Society Gallery at the British Museum. The exhibition explores the many ways those both at home and on the front line tried to cope with the enormity of the First World War.

With personal objects such as letters, schoolboy essays reacting to airship raids over London, recruitment posters, a romance novel set in a munition factory, trench journals and even a knitting pattern for balaclavas, the exhibition considers how humour, faith, comradeship, family and forbearance contributed to the war effort.

Enduring War is part of the British Library’s support for the UK’s First World War Centenary programme, which includes leading the UK’s contribution to, the most important pan-European collection of first World War source material, and a brand new British Library First World War website with over 500 items from across Europe, articles by leading experts and teachers’ notes.

A series of public events, artistic performances and discussions accompany the exhibition, as well as a programme for schools and teachers. Read more.

Trench journal Aussie: the Australian soldiers’ magazine, no.4, April 1918

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Dr Matthew Shaw, co-curator of Enduring War and project coordinator for Europeana 1914–1918, is curator of North American History at the British Library. Past exhibitions include Taking Liberties (2007), Growing Knowledge (2010) and On the Road (2012), and his most recent book is a history of the French Revolutionary Calendar, Time and the French Revolution (Boydell & Brewer, 2011).

Alison Bailey, co-curator of Enduring War, is a curator in the British Library’s Humaities Reference Service, and has a special interest in British children’s literature and children’s books of the 20th century.

Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour continues in the Folio Society Gallery at the British Museum until 12 October 2014. Read more.

Embroidered handkerchief, c. 1914–16

Munitions drive poster, 1916

Parliamentary Recruiting Committee poster no. 12, 1914

Wilfred Owen, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’. Reproduced by permission of the Estate of Wilfred Owen

Parliamentary Recruiting Committee poster no. 75, 1914