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.

Roy Greenslade versus Great War journalism

In the Guardian today, Roy Greenslade marks the centenary by considering the 1914-18 press’s reporting of the First World War, which he considers deplorable: The catalogue of journalistic misdeeds is a matter of record: the willingness to publish propaganda as fact, the apparently tame acceptance of censorship and the failure to hold power to account. […]

Singing secretly

I’ll be giving a talk in a couple of weeks about myths of the War – the strange rumours that people whispered to each other at the time, and the equally strange things that some people believe about the War today. That’s why I’ve been looking again at a book I’m very fond of, Echoes […]

Another view of soldiers’ songs

I’m still looking for material about soldier’s songs, and recently came across this article in the excellent Spectator archive. It’s a November 1917 review of F.T. Nettleingham’s collection, Tommy’s Tunes, and reminds us that the subject was not always seen through the socialist-populist filter of ‘Oh What a lovely War’. The Spectator site’s text is […]

The Folio Fussell

There are not many works of literary criticism in the Folio Society’s backlist. Most of the books that are given the sumptuous Folio treatment are classics of fiction, biography and travel writing – the sort of thing that a bookish person of means might want to decorate his or her shelves iwith in preference to […]

The New Oxford Book of War Poetry

Jon Stallworthy’s Oxford Book of War Poetry was first published thirty years ago. Vernon Scannell, in a generally appreciative Guardian review, noted that ‘this editor’s selective criteria are rather obscure’, and indeed there is an interesting quirkiness in the selections that Professor Stallworthy makes from three thousand years of poetry, from the Book of Exodus […]

Ethel Mannin on Arnold Bennett

In Ethel Mannin’s Confessions and Impressions (1930), there’s this anecdote about Bennett: I love the story about Arnold Bennett and the young man who so much wanted to meet him. A mutual friend introduced them during a chance encounter in the street. At the spot at which they stood, a carter was carrying a heavy […]

Ethel Mannin on ‘Journey’s End’

Ethel Mannin This month at the Reading 1900-1950 reading group we’re looking at the work of Ethel Mannin. I’m reading her Confessions and Impressions (1930), an alternately fascinating and annoying book of memoirs. I was struck by her comments on Journey’s End: The reason why we have so little great art of any kind today […]

The Folio ‘Parade’s End’

The Folio Society are marking the centenary of the Great War with a reprint of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End tetralogy, in two volumes. They have kindly sent copies to me to review on this site. The books are very handsome indeed, as one might expect from the Folio Society. The paper is good, the […]

Some new websites

Today is Sarajevo day, and therefore as good as any (and better than most) for mentioning A Century Back a new blog that intends day by day to record what happened exactly a century ago. So today, obviously, the author writes about the assassination, and quotes Stefan Zweig’s memory of a sudden silence: And so […]

‘Culture Wars’ papers now online

Some of the papers from the very enjoyable ‘Culture Wars’ conference at Sheffield Hallam University are available online. They are on the site of the Middlebrow Network, which has done much over the past few years to encourage intelligent thinking about the less academically respectable kinds of writing. My own paper is about detective stories. […]

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