Having posted the first image on @englandremembered at the beginning of February 2019, it seemed the perfect platform to present all the fabulous archive photographs that I have discovered during my research for the soldier poets celebrated in the England Remembered Project and to share snippets of the stories on this blog.
Here was a great opportunity to create a visual record of the men whose poetry inspired the landscape photographs in the England Remembered Book, which in turn influenced the responses by our modern day poets.
England Remembered draws together the work of the Great War poets; Edward Thomas, Nowell Oxland, Isaac Rosenberg, Robert Graves, Francis Brett Young, E.A. Mackintosh, Ivor Gurney, Francis Ledwidge, Edmund Blunden, R.E. Vernede, E.W. Tennant, Charles Hamilton Sorley and Rupert Brooke. Whilst our contemporary writers include Denise Bennett, Christopher Martin, Tom Gorman, Em Rahman, Holly Purslow, Simon Roots, Alison Hill and Timothy Barrow.
We start with Nowell Oxland author of ‘Outward Bound’ written en route to Gallipoli in 1915 and the poignant portraits in his Father’s Parish Church at Alston in the High Pennines. Then introduce his closest friend, William Noel Hodgson, who wrote under the pen name of Edward Melbourne. Stories of their days together at Durham School and transition up to Oxford meld with tales of rugby matches and other battles further afield. Noel Hodgson’s path finally led him to the first day of the Battle of the Somme, whilst rugby teammate Jimmy Dingle was sent to join Oxland on the hill at Gallipoli.
Turning back to the present Tom Gorman, the first of our contemporary writers, talks about his passion for poetry and the writers who have influenced him in a frank in-depth interview. He shares the inspiration for his poem ‘Normandy to Hampshire’ and discusses the power of the soldier poets’ words.
From serene images of the lakes at Waggoners Wells NT, Grayshott, we move on to the timeless portrait of Nowell chosen by his Mother for the remembrance volume at Worcester College. Family ties are yet again reflected in the image of the young Noel Hodgson and his sister ‘Star’ who faithfully followed his steps up to the summit of Great Gable in memory of his Farewell Walk.
The next soldier poet to appear on @englandremembered will be Edward Thomas whose friendship with Robert Frost led to the famous poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ and a momentous decision for Thomas. His collection of poems composed in the two years prior to his embarkation for France are set in the Hampshire Countryside, but clearly deserve their title of ‘war poetry’.
We also introduce our second contemporary writer, Denise Bennett, author of ‘Edith Silvester’ and a ‘Letter to’. In her interview, we will ask her about the references to local historical events in her poetry and the research behind this work.
From Isaac Rosenberg’s time at the Slade School of Art with the ‘Whitechapel Boys’ to Robert Graves’ friendship with Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, we look into their lives before the war and the connections between the soldier poets. After the war, Francis Brett Young’s literary neighbours on the Island of Capri famously included D.H. Lawrence and together with Rupert Brooke, Francis Ledwidge, Edmund Blunden and E.W. Tennant they all made contributions to the Georgian Poetry anthologies published between 1912 and 1922.
As we uncover their stories a circle of creativity appears around the Arts Patron, Eddie Marsh, and the Bookshop of Harold Munro. Our next blog post is by Fiona McVey who looks at unravelling these friendships and reveals a lifestyle that was unrecognisably altered with the arrival of War.
Jacky Dillon (Editor)
Header image © Jacky Dillon (Waggoners Wells NT, Grayshott)