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 There is the usual tedious wrangle over papers, which, despite Wilson’s claim to have ‘discovered a mass of unpublished material’, is still unresolved; then there is the difficulty of Sassoon’s having so extensively worked and reworked the material of his own life – although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

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,