Category Archives: attitudes

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 […]

Theosophists and lesbians

One of my current projects is trying to understand Rose Allatini, author of the remarkable novel Despised and Rejected (1918). Since the novel was prosecuted and banned, it is not surprising that Allatini seems to have shirked the subject of deviant sexualities in her later fiction. The 1935 novel Girl of Good Family (written under […]

W. Pett Ridge: ‘The Amazing Years’ (1917)

Few best-selling novelists are quite as forgotten as William Pett Ridge (1859–1930), who a century ago mapped the fascinating social borderland where the upper-working classes meet  the lower-middles. Social mobility is his theme, and he has the knack of getting you to care about his characters as they tread the uncertain paths of early twentieth-century […]