Category Archives: novels

Coming back to Dornford Yates

I read quite a bit of Dornford Yates when I was researching post-war thrillers, but I hadn’t looked at one of his novels for quite a while. Last Saturday, though, I was in the excellent Daisy Lane Books in Holmfirth, and noticed that they had a row of Yateses, so I thought I’d take another […]

Following Sassoon in France

Last week’s trip to France with Battle Honours Tours exceeded my expectations. The tour’s title was Sassoon on the Western Front, and our itinerary followed his military progress, around the places in France where he served and fought. We had two guides. Rory Stephens took us through the military background with commendably revisionist enthusiasm and […]

More on Kipling and Syphilis

Some more thoughts on this subject, partly as a response to Roger’s comment on my ‘Kipling and Syphilis’ post of a fortnight ago. How likely is it that syphilis is a theme of ‘Dayspring Mishandled’? It can at least be shown that venereal disease was a concern of Kipling’s throughout his career. As I suggested […]

‘Khaki and Kisses’ at Sheffield

Last minute reminder for ‘Khaki and Kisses’, three talks on First World War fiction at Sheffield Hallam University tomorrow (Thursday 22nd). I shall be speaking about Great War fiction generally; then Prof. Chris Hopkins will discuss the romantic novels of Berta Ruck and Dr Erica Brown will talk about Elizabeth von Armin. Full details are […]

Wonder Woman (12A)

Huddled in a front line trench in November 1918, a Belgian refugee bemoans her flight to some visitors. Inflamed by the narrative, one of the visitors, a young woman, rips off her coat and dress, and, clad only in a sort of armour plated swimming costume, nimbly slips over the top to confront the enemy. […]

Kipling and Syphilis

The June edition of the Kipling Journal arrived today, including a letter I wrote to the editor about the story ‘Dayspring Mishandled’ (collected in Limits and Renewals of 1932). I suggest that the hidden theme of the story is the subject of syphilis (unmentionable in the family-oriented magazines where Kipling’s work was usually published) . […]

In pursuit of Rollo Balmain and Sara Mignon

Recently I’ve being trying to find out everything I can about a rather obscure pair of playwrights. They are Rollo Balmain and Sara Mignon, authors of Are We Downhearted? and A Sailor’s Love, both staged in 1915. Rollo Balmain alone is credited with A British Soldier, a topical play that hit the stage in September […]

Strong and Stable

Today’s Guardian has a letter from Dr David Blazey of Newcastle pointing out that Teresa May’s slogan ‘strong and stable’ is a cliche referenced by Galsworthy in The Forsyte Saga. The Guardian website illustrates the letter with a pretty picture of late Victorian poshness, but the quotation is in fact from a later instalment of […]

Pagan, by W. F. Morris

Pagan (1931) is by W.F. Morris, the author of Bretherton: Khaki or Field Grey?, that slightly mad yet highly enjoyable novel about a British officer who, while suffering from amnesia, becomes a general in the German Army. Morris is one of those ex-soldier novelists for whom the war is always the main theme, and the […]

Compton Mackenzie, disillusionment and Douglas Jerrold

Mostly,  Gallipoli Memories (1929) is a rather jolly memoir by someone who presents himself as hanging around the Staff with not very much useful work to do. It’s only towards the end that Mackenzie makes it clear that this is partially intended as a contribution to the opposition to the ‘disillusioned’ literature that had taken […]