Siegfried Sassoon has received almost excessive biographical attention in recent years. First up was John Stuart Roberts’s pioneering life – which paid rather too much attention to the poet’s late conversion to Catholicism, at the expense of his crucial war experiences. Then came Jean Moorcroft Wilson’s exhaustive two-volume blockbuster.
Wilson’s double whammy had many merits: intelligent exegesis of the poems; honesty about Sassoon’s homosexuality; hugely detailed research. But, as with many doorstep-sized biographies, in the sheer accumulation of facts, and an almost day-by-day narration of the poet’s life, the wood was lost in the trees. Now Max Egremont arrives