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.

Civilians in Uniform

In London last week for Dr Scroggy’s War (of which more later) I popped into a couple of exhibitions. There are some good things at the pleasant little Enduring War exhibition at the British Library, but what struck me most there was a cartoon in The Aussie, a magazine for Australian soldiers. It shows a […]

Realism is Not Enough

The British Poetry of the First World War conference at Oxford gave me plenty to think about. One sentence from that has stuck in my mind as a theme I want to develop at some time in the future is from the presentation by Andrew Palmer. ‘Realism is not enough,’ he said. He was talking […]

Fun with Ngrams

One of the pleasures of the British Poetry of the First World War conference (and the pleasures were many – I’ll be mentioning several over the next week or so) was Jay Winter’s talk on ‘Glory’. He traced the decline of the word in English by use of  Google Ngrams. This is a neat bit […]

The Fashion in War Poetry

I’m greatly looking forward to the British Poetry of the First World War conference at Oxford this weekend, and have been studying the programme with interest. So many panels, and hard choices to be made… I found myself counting the poets named in the various paper titles, seeing which poets were most academically  popular in […]

A Galsworthy typo?

In my paper for the British Poetry of the First World War conference at Oxford at the end of this week, I’m discussing how war poets were represented in novels of the twenties. A key exhibit is Wilfrid Desert,  the Byronic and disillusioned (‘Bitter as quinine’) poet of Galsworthy’s The White Monkey. Galsworthy gives us […]

Researching Allan M. Laing at Bradford

Yesterday I spent a very productive afternoon in the Special Collections Room of the J.B. Priestley Library at the University of Bradford. One of my interests is the career of Allan M. Laing, the conscientious objector who wrote Carols of a Convict while banged up in Wormwood Scrubs, and later became a prolific writer of […]

‘Poetic expression alone…’

‘The poetic mood, whether in writer or reader, demands a high, a heightened state of tension and sensibility; by the emotions of the War, that high, that heightened state was created, not only in the soldier, but in every citizen, anxious, exalted, fearful both for the fate of his country and his fellow-men. The soldier […]

Kamila Shamsie’s ‘A God in Every Stone’

With very few exceptions, the best novels of the Great War are the ones that not only give an idea of the battlefield, but also locate the conflict within a historical frame, and give a sense of the War as a turning point in the lives of individuals and societies. Kamila Shamsie’s A God in […]

‘Whether of pure European descent’

I did some researching at the National Archive in Kew yesterday, finding out a little more about the military career of P. G. Wodehouse’s brother, Armine, an officer in the Scots Guards. One of the documents I saw was his ‘Application for Appointment to the Special Reserve of Officers’. (Click the picture if you’d like […]

W. H. R. Rivers and Arnold Bennett

The Times Litt. Sup. has been discussing the psychologist W. H. R. Rivers recently (based on Ben Shephard’s interesting-looking book, Headhunters) so I sent them this letter, which appears in the current issue: Sir, – Ashok Bery (Letters, August 1) notes how the writings of W. H. R. Rivers influenced the imagination of W. H. […]

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