It does seem strange that there should until now have been no biography of Siegfried Sassoon. 'But surely there is one. There must be!' Thus Jean Moorcroft Wilson begins her Introduction, reproducing the incredulity of friends and colleague when she told them of her project. Such is the popularity of the genre that most people of half Sassoon's distinction have had at least two Lives; it may well be that he was, until this month, the most famous man in English history without a biography of his own. There is the usual tedious wrangle over papers, which, despite Wilson's claim to have 'discovered a mass of unpublished material', is still unresolved; then there is the difficulty of Sassoon's having so extensively worked and reworked the material of his own life – although such autobiographical writings seldom deter the keen biographer, certain that she can offer a 'fuller’, 'rounder' picture of the subject, seen in 'a new light' and in a 'fresh historical perspective'.
The first thing to say about Jean Moorcroft Wilson's attempt on Sassoon is that it is far, far too long; the second is that, detail apart, it adds little to what an averagely well-read person will already know about the man, his life and the period; the third is that