Seventy years after the start of the second world war, Vera Lynn is to publish her memoirs and reveal how soldiers' wives accused her of affairs
Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
The Observer, Sunday 15 February 2009
Vera Lynn, voted the person who 'most represents the spirit of the last century' in 2000, sings to troops in 1940. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty
Dame Vera Lynn, icon of the second world war, is to give a full, personal account of her extraordinary story to a new generation of Britons this summer.
Famous for stirring songs such as "We'll Meet Again" and "The White Cliffs of Dover", the woman who became known as the "Forces' sweetheart" at the age of 21 will reveal in her forthcoming autobiography how the hardships of her upbringing in London's east end and her early singing career in working men's clubs prepared her for gruelling visits to the front line.
She was so determined to do the right thing for the troops that she wrote personal messages by hand on thousands of portrait photographs for her fans on active service in Europe and the Far East, men who had no other contact with life back in "Blighty".
HarperCollins plans to publish the autobiography in June, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the start of the war, on 3 September 1939.