Category Archives: novels

Geoffrey Hill on Owen, Rosenberg and ‘Pity’

This post is a recommendation to take a look at the lectures that the late Geoffrey Hill gave when Professor of Poetry at Oxford between 2010 and 2015.You can find them at: https://www.english.ox.ac.uk/professor-sir-geoffrey-hill-lectures I don’t know how long they’ve been online, and this is probably old news to many people, but I’ve only just discovered […]

Woolf, ‘Sapper’, Edgar Wallace

Sometimes the census just tells you what you already knew. Here is the return submitted by Leonard and Virginia Woolf, from an address oddly transcribed as ‘Rodmell, Lewes, Southease & Rodmell, Sussex, England’: Living with the couple are Nellie and Lettie, brought to live so vividly in Alison Light’s book Mrs Woolf and the Servants.

Bourne

I loked for Frederic Manning in the 1921 census, and found him at Edenham, near Bourne in Lincolnshire: He was lodging with the family of Joseph Kirby, a farm labourer, and probably starting to write Her Privates We. He named the hero of the novel Bourne, the same as the village. He must have liked […]

Rosie

Over the time I’ve spent with Rose Allatini, author of Despised and Rejected, and so frequently disappointed by life, I have found her using several names: R. Allatini, A.T. Fitzroy, R.L. Scott, Mrs Cyril Scott, Lucian Wainwright, Eunice Buckley… Now, in the 1921 census, she has yet another name. The census was taken just a […]

Evadne Price tells the truth (to an extent)

A life-story that I’ve been interested in for a long while is that of Evadne Price, who as ‘Helen Zenna Smith’ wrote Not So Quiet…, one of the most striking pretend-memoirs of the war. By now it is accepted that she is the Eva Price who was born in Australia in 1888, married a man […]

Listening to Kipling

Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable evening listening to Kipling. The Kipling Society has for a while organised regular Zoom get-togethers where memebers and enthusiasts take turns to read favourites from the Kipling canon – poems, or parts of stories, or songs. Yesterday, there were about twenty of us reading, and I came away with […]

Handbook of British Literature and Culture of the First World War

It’s arrived. This Handbook has been a long time in the preparation. The editors, Ralf Schneider and Jane Potter, originally hoped to publish it during the centenary period, but problems had to be overcome, and contributors had to be coordinated, so it has only recently arrived on Amazon – and my contributor’s copy arrived today. […]

If Summer Don’t (1921)by Barry Pain

Here’s an odd one, It’s a parody, by the humorist Barry Pain of that mighty best-seller of 1921, If Winter Comes by A.S.M. Hutchinson. My copy of Hutchinson’s novel was printed in March 1922, six months after the first publication in August 1921. It is the twentieth edition (which maybe means impression, but it’s still […]

Hemingway

I am an admirer of Ken Burns’s documentaries, from his revelatory series on the American Civil War to his recent very enjoyable take on Country Music. His Hemingway (now showing on BBC4) is well up to standard in most respects, clearly explaining the life and work of this remarkable writer. One thing jarred. During the […]

There’s No Story Here (1944) by Inez Holden

Those of us interested in life in Britain during the First World War have often had cause to envy those researching the Second, who have the records of Mass Observation to supply them with a plenitude of everyday detail, mostly about the dullish routine of everyday life – the sort of stuff that only incidentally […]