Bored Hero

Alan Bell

  • Raymond Asquith: Life and Letters by John Jolliffe
    Collins, 311 pp, £10.95, July 1980, ISBN 0 00 216714 X

When Raymond Asquith died in the Battle of the Somme, Winston Churchill grieved for ‘the loss of my brilliant hero-friend’, and the Prime Minister’s son became a symbol of the talent of a whole generation. He is mentioned in countless memoirs, but until the publication of this volume Asquith has never possessed any definite literary personality to give documentary substance to the legend of tragically sacrificed brilliance. He was 38 when he was killed, no mere promising BA sent straight from Oxford to the trenches: the achievement of a fuller lifetime was beginning to form by the time of his death. Recollection of promise has until now been all that remained, along with fragrant but sincere declarations from adoring disciples such as Lady Diana Cooper, who ‘loved Raymond hopelessly’ but could scarcely bear to write about him in her autobiography.

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