Sebastian Faulks

First Attempt

Siegfried Sassoon: The Making Of A War Poet

By

Duckworth 593pp £25 order from our bookshop

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 There is the usual tedious wrangle over papers, which, despite Wilson’s claim to have ‘discovered a mass of unpublished material’, is still unresolved; then there is the difficulty of Sassoon’s having so extensively worked and reworked the material of his own life – although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’. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter