Category Archives: attitudes

Rhythm and Reaction

This is just a note to recommend the exhibition Rhythm and Reaction, at Two Temple Place in London. It tells the story of the introduction of jazz music into Britain before and after the Great War. From the banjo-playing of the minstrel shows and productions like In Dahomey (1903), via the groundbreaking Original Dixieland Jazz […]

Philip Gibbs and the war-book boom

The novelist hero of Philip Gibbs’s 1931 novel The Winding Lane is an ex-soldier rather ill at ease in the literary world. At the Pen and Palette, a bohemian club catering for the artistic set, he notes the taste of some of the members: Some of these middle-aged women praised with rather hysterical enthusiasms the […]

Are Poppies Racist?

[D]uring the last few years an exceptionally debased form of pacifism, growing out of the philosophy of materialism, has attempted to divide us into two camps: on the one side ignorant, bloodthirsty militarists, and on the other enlightened pacifists. It is the object of the self-styled enlightened people to persuade the young that the war […]

What Housman said

‘The Great War cannot have made much change in the opinions of any man of imagination.’ A.E. Housman

Aberdeen conference ‘The Fictional First World War’

Booking is now open for the conference in Aberdeen, on ‘The Fictional First World War’, (6-9 April, 2017). Here’s a link to it. I’ve been sent a provisional programme, and it is packed with good speakers and interesting topics. My own paper will have the title: ‘They ought to ’ave shot that bugger’: A Century […]

Arnold Bennett on the House of Windsor

I spent yesterday at the Manchester Central Reference Library (where I enjoyed many hours when I was a student in Manchester during the 1960s). I was looking at wartime copies of the New Statesman, and especially at Arnold Bennett’s column ‘Observations’, which he wrote over the pen-name ‘Sardonyx’. The columns are gossipy and lively, and […]

What soldiers shouldn’t read

I’ve read some good articles over the years about the reading habits of soldiers in France, and the literature supplied to them. What I hadn’t considered much before was what they were discouraged from reading. Here’s Arnold Bennett, writing in February 1919,  about the committee who ran the Camps Library, and made sure it did […]

‘Chocolate Munchers’

The First World War provided great opportunities for those whose pleasure in life was expressing disapproval of others. Here’s an article from the Daily Mail of 1917:

Tribunal exemptions

Browsing the Daily Mail for 1918, I was struck by this short report:

‘Loyalties’

John Galsworthy’s 1922 play Loyalties includes one of the more interesting twenties portrayals of an ex-soldier. Captain Ronald Dancey has most of the military virtues – dash, courage, resolution – but has not done well in the peacetime world. The play brings him into conflict with Ferdinand de Levis, rich and successful in everything he […]