Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Dame Judith Anderson

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© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Dame Judith Anderson

by Unknown photographer
modern bromide print from original negative, 1940
7 1/2 in. x 9 1/2 in. (192 mm x 242 mm) image size
Given by The Kobal Collection, 1987
Photographs Collection
NPG x45137

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Events of 1940back to top

Current affairs

Following the German invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and France, Neville Chamberlain resigns and Churchill is appointed Prime Minister making the famous speech: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.'
The Battle of Britain ends the Phoney War with Germany's attack on the nation from the air. Britain's cities, airbases and ports are bombed during the Blitz.

Art and science

With little access to sculpture materials, and a bombed out studio Henry Moore starts experimenting with drawings of war subjects. After taking shelter in a London Underground station during an air raid Moore was inspired to begin a series of Shelter Drawings. With a commission from the War Artists Advisory Committee, headed by Kenneth Clark, these became some of the most popular example of official war art.

International

Britain's attempt to defend France against German invasion by landing troops on the French coast ends in failure; France surrenders and Britain is left to face the Axis Powers alone. While the Dunkirk Landings were a failure, the heroic rescue of troops by a fleet of English civilian boats was a victory for morale, and the 'Dunkirk Spirit' came to stand as an emblem of British triumph in adversity.

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