RepositorySpecial Collections Archives (GB 0029)
Ref NoEUL MS 50a/PERS/1/18/1
Extent33 items
TitleLetters from Siegfried Sassoon
DescriptionLetters from Siegfried Sassoon to Charles Causley. Also includes some letters from George Sassoon.
Admin HistorySiegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) was a poet and writer, born on 08 September 1886 at Weirleigh in Kent. He was educated at Marlborough College and Clare College, Cambridge, of which he was later an honorary fellow. At Cambridge he had a relationship with David Thomas, whose death on the western front in March 1916 would prompt such poems as 'The Last Meeting' and 'A Letter Home'.

Sassoon left Cambridge without taking a degree and lived as a country gentleman. He enlisted as a trooper in the Sussex yeomanry, and in 1915 was commissioned in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and posted to France. Sassoon was wounded in April 1917 and while convalescing in England he felt impelled to write a violent attack on the conduct of the war. This he contrived to have read out in the House of Commons, but instead of the expected court martial, the under-secretary for war declared him to have shell-shock, and he was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital, near Edinburgh. During his three months there he made two important friendships: with the young poet Wilfred Owen, and with the psychologist and anthropologist W. H. R. Rivers. Eventually he decided to fight again and early in 1918 was posted to Palestine. In May he rejoined his old battalion in France, and in July was wounded again, this time in the head.

In The Old Huntsman (1917) and Counter Attack (1918) Sassoon's realistic and compassionate war poems established his stature as a fully-fledged poet, and despite all his later prose and verse, and his growing aversion to the label, it was mainly as a war poet that he was regarded for the rest of his life. In 1919 Sassoon was briefly involved in Labour politics and was the first literary editor of the reborn Daily Herald. Thereafter he lived in London, hunted for a few seasons in Gloucestershire, and brought out volumes of poetry—Selected Poems (1925), Satirical Poems (1926), and The Heart's Journey (1927). All his life Sassoon kept copious diaries. These provide insight insight into his political and literary views, as well as his relationships, including with the the artist Stephen Tennant (1906–1987). In the late 1920s Sassoon turned to prose, drawing on his pre-war diaries and those for the first quarter of 1916 for his Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (1928). From the 1930s, Sassoon began to write his factual autobiography, beginning with The Old Century and Seven More Years (1938), and continuing with The Weald of Youth (1942) and Siegfried's Journey (1945), which carried his story up to 1920.

On 18 December 1933, Sassoon married Hester Gatty, and they settled at Heytesbury House, near Warminster in Wiltshire, where Sassoon spent the rest of his life. Their son was born in 1936. The marriage ended in 1944. Sassoon died at his Heytesbury home on 01 September 1967. (Biography taken from the entry by Rupert Hart-Davis in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)
Access StatusOpen
Creator_NameCausley; Charles; 1917-2003; author, teacher and broadcaster
Sassoon; Siegfried; 1886-1967; poet and author
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