Category Archives: History

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 […]

‘Off the Shelf’ at Sheffield

The Sheffield Libraries Off the Shelf festival runs from 26th September to 27th October. (The programme can be found here.) To mark the centenary year, there are several sessions related to the First World War, including one on Wednesday 22nd October, when Professor Chris Hopkins, Dr Erica Brown and myself will be talking about the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Arnold Bennett and a knighthood

There was an enjoyable programme about Arnold Bennett on Radio 4 yesterday (still available on iPlayer). Deborah Moggach and Giles Brandreth gave a lively account of his life and talked enthusiastically about his novels, agreeing that The Old Wives’ Tale was the best (which is fair enough, though I have an especial fondness for Riceyman […]

Mauvais Genre

At the Amiens conference earlier this month, one of the papers mentioned a French popular novel of the war years: La Fauvette des Tranchées, the story of a brave young woman who disguised herself as a man in order to fight. This year, a best-selling graphic novel has appeared in France – Mauvais Genre, that […]

Crimson Field: self-inflicted wounds

I quite enjoyed the first episode of The Crimson Field,   but by the third helping it was getting a bit ridiculous. So many issues – cowardice, Ireland, homosexuals, class conflicts… And most of the characters more interested in the issues (and their personal lives) than in healing the casualties… But the big topic yesterday evening […]

The prevention of war books?

In her 1937 autobiography, Three Ways Home, Sheila Kaye-Smith considers the commercial failure of her wartime novel Little England: The explanation [...] does not lie entirely in the book itself, but also in the time of its appearance. that must share the responsibility for the small impression that it made. It was a war book, […]

Les Amis du Roman Populaire

In Amiens last week I attended a meeting of L’ Association des Amis du Roman Populaire. This is a group of academics and others interested mostly in French popular fiction of the last century, and the two-day conference was about the popular literature of the Great War. We met in the Logis du Roy in […]

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