Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’


Peter Jackson’s new film They Shall Not Grow Old is a technical marvel. From hundreds of hours of archive film it creates a vivid account of the Great War that looks amazingly new. The film archive of the Imperial War Museum has been cleaned, speed-adjusted and colourised to present a picture of British soldiers in the Great War that is no longer in jerky black and white. Even better, Peter Jackson’s technical wizards have allowed him to pick out particular faces in the crowd scenes of war footage, and enlarge and enhance them so that they are no longer just faces in the background – they are people we recognise as like ourselves. The film is emotionally powerful, especially in the sequence that conveys the actuality of an assault and its aftermath. Read More »


Walter Greenwood at Salford


On Wednesday, Marion and I had a good afternoon in Salford, at an event marking the publication of the new book on Walter Greenwood by Chris Hopkins. The event was at the Working Class Movement Library, one of the characterful redbrick buidings dotted among the glassy modernism of the University of Salford. Read More »

Rose Allatini on Radio Four

For four years the BBC has been running a dramatised serial about the First World War, following events as they happened, a century on. It’s called Home Front. I haven’t been listening, but today I was alerted to the fact that the latest episode mentioned Rose Allatini and Despised and Rejected. Read More »

Wodehouse at the British Library

The good news is that the British Library will be presenting (from November 27th to February 24th) a small exhibition P.G. Wodehouse: the Man and his Work. It will be in the rather rarefied space, the  Sir John Ritblat: Treasures Gallery. The last exhibition I saw there was about Karl and Eleanor Marx. This one will probably be jollier. Read More »

Rose Allatini’s London

I’m trying to find out everything I can about the author of Despised and Rejected, so on Saturday, Marion and I took a walk (and some bus rides) round West London, looking at some of the places where the novelist Rose Allatini lived.

She was born in Vienna in 1890, but soon moved to London. The 1891 census puts her in this stately white stucco mansion – number 18, Holland Park:18 Holland park.jpg

The area was, and is, one of the grandest and most expensive in London.  I’ve read recently of houses in this area going for fifty million pounds.  the prices were less extreme at the end of the nineteenth century, but it was still a stonkingly expensive and select location. Read More »

Armchair generals

‘Every Englishman believes in his heart, however modestly he may conceal the conviction, that he could himself organise as large an army as Kitchener and organise it better.’ (Havelock Ellis. Essays in War-Time: Further Studies in the Task of Social Hygiene (1917).)

And a hundred years on, every Englishman still believes he could have done a better job than the Great War generals…



Kipling and the Great War

A very useful article on Kipling and the War has been posted on the Kipling Society’s website:

In the article, Rodney Atwood follows kipling’s actions and writing through the war years in considerable detail, dispelling some of the myths that have accrued because of popular treatments like My Boy Jack.

By the way, I shall be giving a paper on Kipling at the conference The Book as Cure: Bibliotherapy and Literary Caregiving from the First World War to the Present, at the Senate House, London University on September 14th. The conference programme is here: .

My paper will deal with ‘The Janeites’ (of course) and ‘Fairy-Kist’ (in which attempted bibliotherapy has far-reaching and rather odd consequences). Two of my favourite Kipling stories.

Kipling has his detractors these days, of course, but is admired by people of discrimination. Maya Angelou, I gather, was a great admirer of his poems, especially ‘If’…

Hall Caine’s The Woman of Knockaloe (1923)

(Also published on the Reading 1900-1950 blog)
Review by George S:
This novel comes with two forewords, one by Newman Flower, the head of Cassell’s publishing house, and one by the author. The gist of each is that this book will disturb and offend some, but that it is a story that needs to be told.
During the First World War the Isle of Man was used as the location for internment camps for German nationals who had been living in Britain. Hall Caine uses one of these camps as the background of a novel whose subtitle is ‘A Parable’. It is written entirely in the present tense, and it preaches a message . Read More »

In the ‘Huddersfield Examiner’

I came across a hint that in 1918 Rose Allatini’s Despised and Rejected had been reviewed in the Huddersfield Examiner, and since I live in Huddersfield I trotted along yesterday to the very pleasant Local Studies room of the Central Library to see what I could find. I had high hopes that it would be interesting, because Cyril Pearce has identified in Huddersfield a community more sympathetic to conscientious objectors than most other parts of the country.
The review is there in the enlarged Saturday edition of June 22nd, 1918. Read More »

‘Despised and Rejected’ – a Christian view

I hadn’t previously heard of The Church League for Women’s Suffrage, but I shall try to find out about them, having been sent this clipping from their journal in 1918. It is a review of Rose Allatini’s Despised and Rejected that does not mince words.

(If you can’t read it satisfactorily, or if the whole width of the review is not showing up on your screen, just left-click on the image and choose ‘View Image’..)
church league on d and r
In the same issue there is an advertisement from C.W. Daniel, the novel’s publisher, so presumably he thought the magazine’s suffragist readership likely to be sympathetic to a pacifist book. And indeed the tenor of the magazine seems to be fairly  left-wing and ‘advanced’. But sexual abnormality is another thing altogether, and M.A.B., the Church league’s reviewer, will have none of it.
I note that the reviewer refers to ‘A.T. Fitzroy’ as ‘he’. Does this mean that Allatini’s authorship was known to (presumably) her? At least she calls the book ‘clever’.
Thanks very much, Val, for sending this and other clippings.