Writers invariably describe their home and surroundings in an evocative way - this is immensely helpful to house historians and I am always delighted to find that a novelist has lived in a house I am researching!

E.M. Delafield lived in a flat above her literary agent's offices just off the Strand during the autumn of 1939.  Her largely autobiographical The Provincial Lady in Wartime describes the house and brilliantly captures the mix of apprehension, confusion and plain boredom which made the first months of the Second World War so trying.  Delafield worked as a volunteer canteen helper at the Adelphi ARP Station.  The passages describing this establishment with its motley staff and customers during the phoney war, with food still plentiful and no urgent incidents to deal with, carry the ring of authenticity: 'Trousered women are standing and walking about in every direction, and a great many men with armlets... Rather disquieting notice indicates directions to be taken by Decontaminated Women, Walking Cases, Stretcher-bearers and others... Atmosphere thick with smoke and no apparent ventilation.'