Category Archives: novels

‘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 […]

Arnold Bennett, the theatre and the cinema

Looking for something quite different altogether in the October 1920 copies of The Stage, I came across this item about Arnold Bennett. It prints his rather abrupt reply to a request to help the campaign trying  to preserve the Royal, Hanley, as a theatre, and prevent its conversion into a picture palace:

The Return of the Brute

Liam O’Flaherty’s Return of the Brute (1929) tells the story of what happens to a group of ineffective soldiers who are sent forward into no-man’s-land in 1917, as part of a large offensive. They get lost, they are victims of the mud, and of random enemy fire, and above all they endlessly chafe against one […]

Company K by William March

Company K (1934) is a strange novel. At the recent Aberdeen conference, Steven Trout made strong claims for it, and with reason. It is wide-ranging, hard-hitting and original. Its form is a succession of brief (sometimes under a page) fragments, each relating a war experience of a different member of an American company of Marines. […]