Ever since I went to Martha's Vineyard this past summer, I have been obsessed with two things: Whales and Keep Calm and Carry On memorabilia. Since I recently added a Keep Calm and Carry On poster to my apartment, I thought it would be important to know and understand the significance of this piece. Since it would be a shame for me to keep that information just to myself, I have decided to share it with you all today.
The poster was initially produced by the Ministry of Information in 1939 during the beginning of World War II. It was intended to be distributed in order to strengthen morale in the event of a wartime disaster. Two-and-a-half million copies were printed, although the poster was distributed only in limited numbers.
The poster was third in a series of three. The previous two posters from the series, "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory" and "Freedom is in Peril" were issued and used across the country for motivational purposes, as the Ministry of Information assumed that the events of the first weeks of the war would demoralise the population. Planning for the posters started in April 1939; by June designs were prepared, and by August 1939, they were on their way to the printers, to be placed up within 24 hours of the outbreak of war. The posters were designed to have a uniform device, be a design associated with the Ministry of Information, and have a unique and recognisable lettering, with a message from the King to his people.
The slogans were created by civil servants, with Waterfield coming up with "Your Courage" as "a rallying war-cry that will bring out the best in everyone of us and put us in an offensive mood at once". These particular posters were designed as "a statement of the duty of the individual citizen", un-pictorial, to be accompanied by more colloquial designs. The "Your Courage" poster was much more famous during the war, as it was the first to go up, very large, and was the first of the Ministry of Information's posters. The press, fearful of censorship, created a backlash, and thus a lot of material related to these posters has been kept by archives.