The Last Georgian

John Bayley

  • Edmund Blunden: A Biography by Barry Webb
    Yale, 360 pp, £18.50, December 1990, ISBN 0 300 04634 0

One of the many excellent photographs Barry Webb has assembled shows Blunden going out to bat with Rupert Hart-Davis, in a match between Jonathan Cape and the Alden Press. That was in 1938. Blunden looks miniature, a frail determined Don Quixote with eagle nose and jaw, who had persuaded the burly Yorkshireman as they set out for the crease together not to wear batting gloves, which were unsporting. No gesture was involved, but a certain amount of quiet conviction. John Betjeman and Joan Hunter-Dunn would have approved: indeed Betjeman was a great admirer of Blunden’s poetry. His English Poems ‘was the first book by a living poet I remember saving up to buy. I learned many of his poems by heart and can still recite them with their autumn mists, summer cricket matches, sounds of church bells and recollections of 18th-century romantic poets.’

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