Size: 22 x 27 cm (approx.)
Softcover, exposed section-sewn binding with printed French-fold dust jacket / poster; interior die-cut and short-cut pages. Design by Tiffany Jones and Wayne Ford, edition of 1000 copies, with an afterword by Chris Dorley-Brown.
„In this project, Chris Dorley-Brown presents a visual investigation of his remarkable family history through a construct of historical images woven together with new photographs made since the death of his parents. Uncovering a treasure trove of family archive not intended for the family album, Dorley-Brown has combined his own images with his father’s photographs to create an alternative narrative for the course of events that shaped the late 20th century.
The intimate storyline offers a unique treatment of the subject of WWII and its rippling after-effects on a British family in the intervening 70 years. The work addresses the subjects of family experience, personal identity and memory.
During WWII Dorley-Brown’s parents Peter and Brenda were not yet married, but had known each other as childhood friends. At age 19 Peter volunteered as a heavy artillery sergeant and survived the Battle of Crete, four years as a prisoner of war in German stalag camps, and a ‘death march’ of more than 500 miles in extreme weather near the end of the war. Some of his photographs that were confiscated while a POW appear in this book.
During the same period, Brenda married twice and gave birth to one son from each relationship. In 1945 she travelled to the US with two young boys as a GI bride crossing on the Queen Mary. When her relationship in the US quickly disintegrated, she travelled back to Britain in 1946 with one son, leaving her second child behind with his American father.
In 1947 Peter and Brenda reunited in the south of England and married. Following their honeymoon, the pair travelled through Europe by car, to revisit friends made during wartime and to see what remained of the stalag camps. At a time when recovery from the devastation of the war was just beginning, Peter and Brenda were coming to terms with the trauma of their own experiences, and on a path to piecing together a new life of normality.
Along with historical images from the European theatre of war, The Longest Way Round features a series of wartime letters that reveal what life was like on the homefront in Britain for Peter’s family while he was missing in action, later to be found as a POW. Dorley-Brown’s contemporary images retrace the postwar journey of his parents, and resonate the effect of his family history on his own outlook decades later. The resulting book highlights wartime hardship, a love story in the aftermath, the following modernist reconstruction and, finally, a sense of closure for the author. An afterword by the author is included.“