Category Archives: novels

Prime Minister versus Parliament

We currently have a Prime Minister openly at war with most of his Parliament, a situation without precedent in modern British politics. For parallels we need to look abroad, and I’ve recently been reading about Austria in 1916, when the Prime Minister, Count von Stürgkh declared a state of emergency in order to divest the […]

Which Allatini to read?

Since publishing Rose Allatini:A Woman Writer, I’ve been asked by a few people – which Rose Allatini should they read first? The obvious answer is Despised and Rejected (1918), since it’s both in print and a novel of historical significance. Certainly, that’s the right answer for anyone researching the Great War. Yet Despised and Rejected, […]

Zane Grey’s The Desert of Wheat (1919)

Last week I posted rather sceptically about the splurge of moralistic emotion that is Zane Grey’s The Day of the Beast. I said I wouldn’t be reading any more Grey for a while, but then I took a look at his The Desert of Wheat, and I was hooked right away. It’s a much better […]

Zane Grey’s ‘The Day of the Beast’ (1922)

Zane Grey is, of course, very well known as an author of Westerns, but in The Day of the Beast (1922) he deserts the romance of Old West for a topical theme and a deliberately unromantic and stereotypically modern setting: Middleville […] a prosperous and thriving inland town of twenty thousand inhabitants, identical with many […]

Firestep to Fokker Fodder

Not many comprehensive schools possess chapels, but Magdalen College School Brackley, where I taught English for over thirty years, inherited one from the grammar school from which it took over in 1973. During chilly assemblies in the chapel, my attention often wandered to some wooden crosses on the wall. These are ex-students’ crosses from First […]

Writing about Rose

For the past year I’ve been writing about Rose Allatini, and the book is nearly ready for publication. It should be available to buy by the start of June. I’ve called it Rose Allatini: A Woman Writer. Why? Because Olive, the novelist heroine of …Happy Ever After, her first book, declared: ‘I want to be […]

What Helen Zenna Smith did next

It’s good to read someone enthusiastic for Not So Quiet… by ‘Helen Zenna Smith’ (alias Evadne Price). On the Paris Review website, Lucy Scholes makes a strong case for the book (admiring it with fewer reservations than I did in my 2014 paper on Evadne Price and her rather wonderful life of untruths.) Lucy Scholes […]

Arnold Bennett at the MOI

I’ve just added a new piece to my online ‘Pieces of Longer Writing’. It’s the text of a paper I gave at an Arnold Bennett Society conference in Stoke in 2017, giving an account of Bennett’s work when he was at the Ministry of Information in 1918.

Kipling advertises War Bonds

I spent a pleasant day in the British Library at Boston Spa yesterday, looking at copies of the Star evening newspaper for 1918. Among the things that caught my eye was this advertisement for War Bonds, featuring Kipling at his most rhetorically fierce. I’ve read quite a bit of war propaganda over the years, but […]

Commando No 5181

Commando comics have been on sale since 1961. For those who don’t know them – they have a small, square format, containing 64 pages of black-and-white drawings telling a war story, most often about the Second World War. They are published by D.C. Thompson of Dundee, publishers of the once-mighty Beano. The Beano is not […]