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Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... people a uniform generational response, a revulsion of the kind reflected in the writings of Siegfried Sassoon and Erich Maria Remarque. In truth, attitudes varied as widely as do perceptions of all manner of human experience, in peace or in war. Uncle Aubrey was one of a large Catholic family, whose menfolk were all educated by Jesuits at ...


C.H. Sisson, 9 November 1989

Edgell Rickword: A Poet at War 
by Charles Hobday.
Carcanet, 337 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 85635 883 5
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... with Turner, who naturally knew other people in the literary world, and introduced him to Siegfried Sassoon, then literary editor of the Daily Herald, ‘who in turn introduced him to his fellow scribbler of the 36th Brigade, Edmund Blunden’. It was thus that, at the age of 20, Rickword himself became a published poet, with the ...

The Bart

Gabriele Annan, 10 December 1987

Broken Blood: The Rise and Fall of the Tennant Family 
by Simon Blow.
Faber, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 571 13374 6
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... hang-outs in Paris, Vienna and Berlin. Stephen Tennant became an enfant terrible, the love of Siegfried Sassoon, and a fairly famous aesthete. He died this year. In 1894, a decade or so before David and Stephen were born, Kipling wrote a poem which might have been about them – ‘The “Mary Gloster” ’. He rolled them into one and made them the ...

At the British Library

Peter Campbell: The lie of the land, 20 September 2001

... pounded the positions inked in red on the exhibition’s trench map of Fricourt – it belonged to Siegfried Sassoon – has been replaced by guidance systems that can pinpoint buildings in cities tens or hundreds of miles away. War will press the limits of whatever information technology is current. Heroic 18th and 19th-century feats of base-line ...

Invalided home

Dinah Birch, 21 October 1993

The Eye in the Door 
by Pat Barker.
Viking, 280 pp., £14.99, September 1993, 0 670 84414 4
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... It was a historical novel, based on the work of the Army psychologist W.H.R. Rivers, who treated Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen at Craiglockhart Hospital in 1917. The political burden of the fiction is explicit. This is the story of Sassoon’s rebellion against the continuation of the war, and of the process ...

Lord Fitzcricket

P.N. Furbank: The composer’s life, 21 May 1998

Lord Berners: The Last Eccentric 
by Mark Amory.
Chatto, 274 pp., £20, March 1998, 1 85619 234 2
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... determined little man, whose rank, I fancy, gives him some consistency, not otherwise his’. Siegfried Sassoon (a feeble judge of character) found him at first ‘unreal, appallingly distant and exclusively intellectual’. He was homosexual but seems not to have had much of a sex-life, remarking bitterly later on that sex had almost always just ...

Lost in the Woods

Nicholas Penny: Victorian fairy painting, 1 January 1998

Victorian Fairy Painting 
edited by Jane Martineau.
Merrell, 200 pp., £25, November 1997, 1 85894 043 5
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... The eye-aching effects of The Fairy Feller’s Masterstroke, the tour de force (presented by Siegfried Sassoon to the Tate in 1963) on which Dadd laboured for nearly a decade in Bedlam, derive not only from the sheer quantity of detail but from the blades and stems of grass traversing the foreground and intersecting the scenes beyond. The sharp ...

Composite Person

Alex Clark: Pat Barker, 24 May 2001

Border Crossing 
by Pat Barker.
Viking, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2001, 0 670 87841 3
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... the neurologist William Rivers and his severely shellshocked charges. The most famous of them is Siegfried Sassoon, who was sent to a psychiatric hospital after he issued a public declaration against the continuation of the war. But much more striking is Billy Prior, who advances stealthily through the trilogy, beginning as a mute casualty and ending as ...

Walking among ghosts

Paul Fussell, 18 September 1980

The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 
edited by D.S. Higgins.
Cassell, 299 pp., £14.95, May 1980, 0 304 30611 8
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... seems to occupy an intellectual and imaginative backwater (the Athenaeum?) where the poems of Sassoon never circulate and Massingham’s Nation is never found on the library table. Two years after the war, Haggard has still not heard of Sassoon. ‘I am not fortunate enough to be acquainted with the works of ...

The Last Georgian

John Bayley, 13 June 1991

Edmund Blunden: A Biography 
by Barry Webb.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.50, December 1990, 0 300 04634 0
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... Modernism now looks to have been the outright winner, that was not how things seemed at the time. Siegfried Sassoon, who almost hero-worshipped Blunden as well as helping him with money, saw him as the epitome of the old chivalric and rural values. His poetry was widely read and far more popular than that of the Moderns. The affirmation at the end of ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy, 4 March 1999

Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... longer answer is that ‘in the early chapters of their autobiographies, Coleridge, Hardy, Yeats, Sassoon, Graves, Day Lewis, Spender and MacNeice have a good deal to say about the external circumstances of their family lives, but little about their internal or “writerly” lives.’ That is true, though some of these poets have left us evidence of their ...


C.H. Sisson, 18 April 1985

Diaries: 1923-1925 
by Siegfried Sassoon, edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 320 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 571 13322 3
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... did not prevent his loyal wife asserting that ‘Walter is a splendid driver already.’ Consider Sassoon himself, at the time only slightly instructed in the art of managing his new car, colliding with ‘a dog-cart going at full speed’ and immediately recording that ‘increasing confidence makes me genuinely enjoy the car’; and being equally ...

Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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The Constant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... a guest in the Ottleys’ small London house and shows no signs of ever going away. She is, wrote Siegfried Sassoon, like ‘a really great impressionist picture by Whistler or Manet’, who, ‘to tell you the truth, rather dumps the others, dear Sphinx’. Sassoon was right. Edith and Aylmer are less interesting than ...

Morgan to his Friends

Denis Donoghue, 2 August 1984

Selected Letters of E.M. Forster: Vol. I: 1879-1920 
edited by Mary Lago and P.N. Furbank.
Collins, 344 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 00 216718 2
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... Browning – who brought Forster to see six chickens he tended – G.L. Dickinson, E.J. Dent, Siegfried Sassoon, Forrest Reid and Edward Carpenter. Interesting, too, when they involve places, travels, holidaying. Forster had what sounds like a very long holiday, beginning in October 1901, with his mother in Italy. Five months in Germany in 1905 ...

Queen Famine’s Courtier

Paul Delany, 3 February 1983

Robert Graves: His Life and Works 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Hutchinson, 607 pp., £14.95, May 1982, 0 09 139350 7
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In Broken Images: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1914-1946 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1982, 0 09 147720 4
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Progress of Stories 
by Laura Riding.
Carcanet, 380 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85635 402 3
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... a favour, or having to ask for a favour himself. When he gets the right foil, such as the hapless Siegfried Sassoon, the standard of nastiness is worthy of the Great Literary Rows. O’Prey’s choice of letters leaves the impression, fairly or not, that Graves has been a man with few private attachments who has nourished himself mainly on ...

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