Category Archives: novels

Knocking down the Cenotaph

An omnibus had crashed into and half knocked down the Cenotaph. Wyndham carried his mind back through the years. It had been for this end that the heroes of the Great War had died. This is from the Earl of Halsbury’s 1944 (published in 1926), a ‘Future War’ novel written as part of his campaign […]

Chaplains

On the University of Birmingham’s website there is an interesting essay by Michael Snape on the role and reputation of Army chaplains in the First World War. It attempts to defend them from the accusation of being distant and ineffectual figures who kept away from the front line. It is well worth reading and partly, […]

The Love of an Unknown Soldier

I have recently been given the chance to look at a fascinating book, The Love of an Unknown Soldier: Found in a Dugout, first published in London in September 1918, by John Lane, The Bodley Head. (The book’s Canadian edition can be viewed online at the Internet Archive .) In an introductory explanation, Lane explains:

‘The spate of war books and plays which all are dreading…’

Thanks to Mary Grover for sending me this clipping from the Sheffield Telegraph, September 1939. Their sardonic regular columnist P. G. Bond is foretelling that among the horrors of war will be a spate of war literature. Interestingly, he assumes that this will be just like the books and plays that came out of the […]

Causes of the First World War (by Dennis Wheatley)

I’m always interested in novelists’ versions of the beginning of the war, and none is more challenging to conventional historians’  ideas than that of Dennis Wheatley in The Devil Rides Out (1934).  The wise and experienced Duc de Richleau is explaining to his companions in adventure the power of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: […]

‘Never beaten in the field’?

In A.G. Macdonell’s dark but lively  satire, Lords and Masters (1936), forceful young Veronica Hanson has just returned from Nuremberg, a convinced and enthusiastic Nazi. She explains recent history to her father: ‘Anyway, my point is that in the last war the whole world combined couldn’t beat the German armies in the field -’ ‘Is […]

Duff Cooper at the War

Alfred Duff Cooper is best known as the politician who became Minister of Information in the Second World War – but his diaries of the First World War make excellent reading for anyone interested in stories of the upper class at war. A young man of talent and connections, until 1917 he was employed, and, […]

Vera Brittain, novelist

‘And you say,’ the Judge continued slowly, ‘that these abnormal conditions are not uncommon as the result of shell-shock?’ ‘That is so, My Lord. If every criminal case in our prisons could be traced back to its origins as exhaustively as this one has been traced, we should probably find war shock, or war anxiety, […]

The York National Book Fair

I hadn’t been to an event like this for a couple of years, so enjoyed my visit to York Racecourse on Friday, to what is billed as Britain’s largest Antiquarian book fair. I didn’t buy much, though. The fair is aimed at book collectors, and I’m more of a book amasser, whose books pile up […]

Ticking off a ghost

  It’s supernatural month at the Sheffield Popular Fiction Reading Group, and I’ve been looking at  Conan Doyle’s The Land of Mist, in which Professor Challenger and the other characters from The Lost World are brought in to explore Conan Doyle’s great obsession – the world of the Beyond, as revealed to spiritualists. Thank goodness […]