Category Archives: novels

Arnold Bennett, and the English and the French

I spent Saturday at the National Archives in Kew, taking a look at, among other things, Arnold Bennett’s activities when in charge of British propaganda to France in 1917-1918. Bennett’s notes and memos are rather impressive – crisp, sensible and decisive – as he deals with a multitude of issues.

The Whicharts and the War

I’ve just blogged on the Reading 1900-1950 site a review of The Whicharts (1931), Noel Streatfeild’s first novel (and a prototype, grown-up and slightly seedy version of Ballet Shoes).  here I’ll just add a couple of notes about Streatfeild’s mentions of the Great War in this book.

We all live at Number 24

I’m reading Ernest Raymond’s The Jesting Army (1930). The army   is near Gilban (in Egypt), heading towards the Battle of Romani (August 1916). The soldiers are singing: …certainly not Tipperary, which had been discarded immediately the newspapers made it into the Soldiers’ Song [….] but in high chorus they invited someone to wash them […]

Lake Rudyard – the Geneva of the Potteries

The two writers I’ve been thinking about this year are Rudyard Kipling and Arnold Bennett. So I was delighted to come across a BBC web feature that links the two. It’s about Lake Rudyard, a popular beauty spot in the Potteries, and if you like Bennett’s novels you’ll enjoy the photos of pleasure seekers who […]

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 […]

Conan Doyle’s ‘Tragedy of the Korosko’

A while ago I wrote here about Galsworthy’s eighth Forsyte novel, Flowering Wilderness (1932). That is the book in which the disillusioned war poet Wilfred Desert has just returned from Darfur, in the Sudan, where he had been kidnapped by fanatical followers of the Mahdi, and told he must convert to Islam, on pain of […]

Mike Ashley’s ‘Adventures in the Strand’

Mike Ashley knows his fiction magazines; he is, after all, the author of The Age of the Storytellers, that invaluable resource for anyone interested in popular fiction between 1890 and 1940. Adventures in the Strand is his new book; it examines the long (1891-1930) relationship between the Strand Magazine and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, its […]

Atrocity Memorial

This is one of the carvings on the war memorial at Sledmere in north-east Yorkshire. It’s the only memorial I’ve come across that shows a scene like this – an unpleasant-looking German soldier deliberately setting fire to a church.

Shackleton’s novels

I’m always nosey about other people’s bookshelves, so was interested when the BBC News website featured a story about the books that Ernest Shackleton took with him to the Antarctic on the expedition that left England in August 1914. This photo (by Frank Hurley) shows Shackleton’s cabin on the Endurance. Some people at the Royal […]

Debits and Credits

Yesterday I bought a new copy of Debits and Credits. My previous copy has been read to bits. It is an American (Doubleday, page & Co.) first edition of 1926, picked up somewhere by my father during his seafaring years. Its cover is stamped with a rather attractive picture of an ancient ship, which I […]


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