Author Archives: George Simmers

After many years as a teacher, I retired and began researching for a Ph.D. on the fiction of the Great War – especially the books, stories and plays that were written during the War or immediately afterwards.

Helen Zenna Smith, and the Manchester Guardian

I’ll be giving a talk at the Marginalised Mainstream conference in November, about the various literary disguises of Evadne Price, and especially the novels she wrote under the pseudonym ‘Helen Zenna Smith’. Out of curiosity, I took a look at the Manchester Guardian archive, to see whether they had reviewed her novels, and found a […]

‘War, Art and Surgery’ at the Hunterian Museum

I had a bit of spare time in London last Friday, so took a look at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. I’d never been there before. The main museum space is packed with medical curiosities – deformed skulls and pickled gall bladders, that sort of thing. Invaluable […]

A Sheffield Wednesday

We had a good afternoon yesterday at Sheffield Hallam, talking about fiction of the Great War as part of the Off the Shelf festival. I kicked off by talking about wartime fiction generally, and then explaining why I rated Patrick MacGill’s books, and The Red Horizon especially. (It’s because nobody else, except Frederic Manning, gives […]

A Sassoon afternoon

I spent a pleasant afternoon yesterday at the Annual general meeting of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship. We met in the Lamb pub in Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury. This used to be Charles Dickens’s local, apparently, and it’s where Ted Hughes took Sylvia Plath on their first date. And they serve very good fish and chips. […]

We’re in the Yorkshire Post

Don’t miss today’s Yorkshire Post! There’s a long article linked to the forthcoming Sheffield Off the Shelf festival. A week or two back a reporter came to Sheffield and interviewed Chris Hopkins, Erica Brown about the fiction of the War, and the result (rather intelligently written) is in today’s paper. The three of us will […]

A Depressing Story

In Herbert Jenkins’s jolly book, The Night Club (1917), a group of men agree to gather together regularly to tell each other stories (as so often in fiction of the time – did it ever happen in real life?) The first meeting, however, ended in a fiasco. A fellow named Roger Blint had been called […]

Teaching Sassoon

In the fight for Bazentin Ridge: Was Sassoon/Sherston’s capture of the trench a reckless and lucky achievement (Sherston); a splendid act of bravery (Regimental records); or a ‘futile gesture’ (Graves)? Do you have a fourth opinion? Was Sherston justified in disobeying orders? Once he had captured the trench, should he have consolidated it? Those are […]

‘Pre-war’ again

It’s a long long time since I noted some interesting (to me) uses of the term ‘pre-war’. Here’s another, from the extremely entertaining 1927 novel  Crazy Pavements  by Beverley Nichols. Nobody had spoken during this brief transit, except Maurice who had said: ‘Does my face look terribly pre-war tonight?’ and had been answered by an […]

Arthur Calder-Marshall’s ‘Before the War’

  Arthur Calder-Marshall   The Short Story and the First World War by Ann-Marie Einhaus is worth reading for many reasons, but I’m especially grateful to it for pointing me towards some stories I didn’t know, and especially ‘Before the War’ by Arthur Calder-Marshall. I’ve just got hold of English Story (1st series), where it […]

21 years on

From Lettice Cooper’s novel, National Provincial (1938), set in 1935, when  Mussolini was about to invade Abyssinia: This time the threat of war seemed both more and less surprising. Less because confidence and easy security had been shattered, more because in the last twenty years the mind had come to think of war as a […]

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