Category Archives: Short stories

Sickbed reading: Wodehouse, Mitford, Horatio Bottomley

I’ve been a bit knocked sideways by illness for the past week, so the big question has been – what to read? Previously, I had been reading a lot of Henry Williamson, but he was out of the question. Williamson can make me feel queasy even when I’m in the best of health. My daughter […]

Who is C. W. Grundy?

A Martial Medley (1931) is an engaging collection of Great War fiction and non-fiction, edited by Eric Partridge. It contains a few mysteries, some of which I have solved, but what I want to know is: Who is C.W. Grundy? The collection opens with Grundy’s story ‘Lost and Found’, about WAACs in France. Partridge’s introduction […]

‘Bartimeus’ in war-time

Before the War, Bartimeus’s stories had mostly been pictures of everyday naval life, tinted with a nostalgia for the service from which his disability had excluded him. They were collected in his first book, Naval Occasions, which was published in August 1914; after this, his writing would change. He immediately set his talent to the […]

‘Bartimeus’ before the War

Bartimeus Pre-War The ‘Bartimeus’ Omnibus (1933) is divided into three sections – Pre-War 1909-1913, War 1914-1918 and Post-War 1919-1925. The sections refer to when the stories are set rather than when they were written, though, as one or two of the Pre-War section explicitly look forward to more testing times. It’s not hard, though to […]


Last month the Sheffield Reading 1900-1950 group considered melodrama, especially in the passionately seething novels of Ethel M. Dell. This month we’ll be considering sea and adventure books, and I shall be looking at an author I should have delved into more thoroughly a while ago. ‘Bartimeus’, I’ve discovered, sounds rather an interesting man. Born […]

Wodehouse and the Marginalised Mainstream

I’ve written a guest post for the Marginalised Mainstream blog. This has been set up by the people running a London conference in early November about the sort of mainstream literature (and other entertainment) that tends to miss out on academic analysis. Judging by the provisional conference programme this brief has been interpreted pretty widely;  […]

‘Defeat’ in Scribner’s

Thanks to Jane Stemp for pointing out that the copy of Scribner’s Magazine containing Galsworthy’s short story ‘Defeat’ is online as part of  Brown University’s Modernist Journals Project. Galsworthy wrote ‘Defeat’ (originally as a one-act play, I think) in 1916, but it was not published in Britain till after the War. I had always assumed […]

Man and Mason: Rudyard Kipling

When I was writing about Kipling and shell-shock a while ago, I wanted to find out about the Masonic background, especially of ‘In the Interests of the Brethren’. I asked a couple of Masons, and their responses were cagey; I didn’t feel I was getting the full answer. What I needed then was a book […]

Substitutes for Literature

Do look, if you haven’t already, at Tim Kendall’s excellent blog post on the dispiriting choice of poetry in the new AQA GCSE anthology  – which, if it stays in circulation as long as the previous anthology, will be the only poetry that millions of British teenagers are ever asked to examine seriously. Tim K […]

‘Through Mud and Blood’ by W.G.Bunter

When one begins listing writers of fiction about the Great War, Billy Bunter is not a name that springs immediately to mind. In  ‘A Lancashire Lad’s Luck’, a story which appeared in The Magnet in September 1915, however, Bunter is revealed as the author of  ‘Through Mud and Blood’, a gripping and heroic narrative of […]