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Noël Coward: A Biography 
by Philip Hoare.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 605 pp., £25, November 1995, 1 85619 265 2
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... absorb this salutary lesson? Bumptiously cultivating men of letters, he met and greatly irritated Siegfried Sassoon and Wilde’s friend Robert Ross. On Armistice Day he was to be seen in a tail-coat in a Rolls-Royce belonging to an epicene Chilean opium addict, a pretty example of feasting with panthers. Six years of dangerous living in the theatre were ...

Whose war is it anyway?

David Daiches, 24 August 1995

Days of Anger, Days of Hope: A Memoir of the League of American Writers, 1937-1942 
by Franklin Folsom.
Colorado, 376 pp., £24.50, July 1994, 0 585 03686 1
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... by the aftermath of the First World War, a generation that knew the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and had read All Quiet on the Western Front, was deeply pacifist in feeling. When that pacifism was faced by the rise of Hitler and the Spanish Civil War, it was put under great strain and, except for those who joined the Peace Pledge ...

Defence of the Housefly

Dinah Birch, 14 November 1996

Letters of Emma and Florence Hardy 
edited by Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 364 pp., £45, April 1996, 0 19 818609 6
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... the odds, begun and sustained. Their shared liking for new writing did much to lighten the gloom. Siegfried Sassoon and T.E. Lawrence became valued friends. There were many literary callers – Edmund Blunden, E.M. Forster, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, H.G. Wells, Rebecca West, John Drink water – and Florence took an eager interest in their ...

The water-doctors vanish

E.S. Turner: The social history of British spas, 4 June 1998

British Spas from 1815 to the Present Day: A Social History 
by Phyllis Hembry and Leonard Cowie.
Athlone, 292 pp., £50, June 1997, 0 485 11502 6
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... of Allan, all much patronised by overwrought clergy. The Craiglockhart military hospital where Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen were treated in World War One was once a hydro; fortunately, the high douche was never invoked for the shell-shocked. Disillusion with hydropathy accelerated the decline of the spa habit, though there were one or two late ...

Drab Divans

Miranda Seymour: Julian Maclaren-Ross, 24 July 2003

Fear & Loathing in Fitzrovia: The Bizarre Life of Writer, Actor, Soho Dandy, Julian Maclaren-Ross 
by Paul Willetts.
Dewi Lewis, 403 pp., £14.99, March 2003, 1 899235 69 8
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... Confinement followed at one of the grim convalescent hospitals – little had changed since Siegfried Sassoon was sent up to Craiglockhart to revise his opinions – designed to get patients quickly back into the firing line. Maclaren-Ross developed an enduring sense of persecution and sending the Army up in his fiction was insufficient ...


Michael Howard, 25 April 1991

Haig’s Command: A Reassessment 
by Denis Winter.
Viking, 362 pp., £18.99, February 1991, 0 670 80255 7
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... far greater experience than himself. Nevertheless the popular image remained that projected by Siegfried Sassoon and Oh what a lovely war: of a general who stubbornly year after year consigned scores of thousands of young soldiers to horrible deaths in pursuit of an insane strategy, using outmoded tactics under conditions he did not begin to ...

Green Thoughts

Brian Dillon: Gardens in Wartime, 26 April 2007

Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime 
by Kenneth Helphand.
Trinity, 303 pp., $34.95, November 2006, 1 59534 021 1
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... the gardens might last long enough for flowers to bloom or vegetables to be harvested. The war, Siegfried Sassoon wrote, was ‘mainly a matter of holes and ditches’ and soldiers on both sides took the freshly upturned earth and wreckage as the substratum for a new landscape, however circumscribed and short-lived. A permanent garden was established ...

Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith, 9 October 1986

Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... no worse, either, than anyone else’s. Thus he attempts to play down Robert’s role in saving Siegfried Sassoon from a court-martial. He challenges my account. I sympathise with him: one of Robert’s many faults was his inability to minimise his part in anything which might appear creditable in the eyes of an enlightened posterity. Perhaps he was ...

Condy’s Fluid

P.N. Furbank, 25 October 1990

A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture 
by Samuel Hynes.
Bodley Head, 514 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 370 30451 9
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Killing in Verse and Prose, and Other Essays 
by Paul Fussell.
Bellew, 294 pp., £9.95, October 1990, 0 947792 55 4
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... a new path. Or rather, there was one thing you could do with them, which is what Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon did – make poetry out of them. I think we need not trouble too much about Sassoon, whose war poems made their great and salutary impact at the time but now look a little diminished. Those ...

Electroplated Fish Knife

Peter Howarth: Robert Graves’s Poems, 7 May 2015

Robert Graves: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 136 pp., £15.99, August 2013, 978 0 571 28383 5
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... at Charterhouse and, for the last four years, the derangements of army life. In 1916, he had taken Sassoon there so that they could both work on their anti-war poems, and had begun the first draft of what would become Goodbye to All That. With the war now finally over – though Graves would suffer the delayed effects of shellshock for the next decade – he ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves, 11 October 2018

Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... and war psychologist William Rivers (whom Graves met at Craiglockhart hospital, when Siegfried Sassoon was also a patient there in the summer of 1917, and to whom he dedicated On English Poetry in 1922) had also inspired his interest in early matriarchal societies. The White Goddess reads as though, after taking all this in and shaking it up ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode, 22 February 1996

The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... more than once that Hemingway proved to be a better writer about the war than Robert Graves or Siegfried Sassoon, even though they saw a lot more fighting than he did, precisely because he was not, as they were, hampered by a literary education and training in ‘conventional strategies of expression’. A similar point is made about the jazz musician ...


Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... brother Basil Seal: ‘She thought of him in terms of the war books she had read. She saw him as Siegfried Sassoon, an infantry subaltern in a mud-bogged trench, standing to at dawn, his eyes on his wrist watch, waiting for zero hour ... ’ Hers is a familiar mutation of the truism that generals are always preparing for the war they’ve just ...

From Pandemonium

Elizabeth Cook: Poetry wrested from mud, 1 September 2005

The Poems and Plays of Isaac Rosenberg 
edited by Vivien Noakes.
Oxford, 427 pp., £90, August 2004, 0 19 818715 7
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... so careless, That, should you drop to a doze, Wind’s fumble or men’s feet Are in your face. Siegfried Sassoon wrote about the ‘sculptural’ quality of Rosenberg’s poetry. The pieces of paper on which the poems are written are full of doodled drawings of human figures. It is the bulk of these featureless figures that is striking, the way they ...


Keith Thomas: Two Years a Squaddie, 5 February 2015

... literary ones; I took vicarious pride in knowing that it had been the regiment of Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and David Jones. They had no successors in my time. In Jamaica the officers lived a cheerfully philistine life, playing polo, attending cocktail parties and spending weekends on the beaches of the north coast. The other ranks took their ...

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