Pressure from Editors

I made a note a while back about pressure from publishers in the late 20s, encouraging writers not to make their books too war centred.

I’ve now found an example which suggest that in the early 20s, on the contrary, editors wanted to stress their author’s military credentials.

In The Life and Last Words of Wilfrid Ewart (1924) Stephen Graham tells how in 1920 Ewart had to fight hard for editors not to label his writing as by “Capt. W. Ewart”.

For editors at this time, the use of ranks might have had some novelty value. During the war, serving soldiers were not normally allowed to publish under their own names, so afterwards the use of a military rank might have been seen as giving authority and authenticity to an article.

Ewart, on the other hand, who had already decided to become a novelist, presumably wanted to be presented as a writer rather than as a soldier. And there may have been a question of etiquette, too. It was seen as rather infra dig for officers to keep using their rank after being demobbed. Ewart was a stickler for the social niceties, and would have been unwilling to flaunt his rank in places where it might have been deemed inappropriate.

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