Siegfried Sassoon, Base Details
Table of Contents
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) was a British war poet and soldier. He was one of the major poets of World War One, and was a close friend and influence on fellow poet Wilfred Owen. He was one of the pioneers of realism in war poetry, and also wrote bitingly about senior officers who sent others to their deaths but did not fight themselves.
Sassoon was born in Kent. His father came from a wealthy merchant family from Baghdad, but was disinherited for marrying outside his Jewish faith. As a result Sassoon had a small personal fortune on which he could live modestly without having to work for a living. He was already a published poet before the First World War, but made his name as a war poet.
Although Sassoon was decorated for acts of bravery during the war, after a period of leave he decided that he could no longer support the war. He sent a declaration condemning the war and the government position to The Times, which was also read out in Parliament. Sassoon was subsequently sent to Craiglockhart Military Hospital to be treated for shell-shock. He eventually returned to fight in the war.
The war ended for Sassoon when he left France in July 1918, though technically he remained in the army on indefinite sick-leave until 11 March 1919, when the London Gazette announced his retirement. He later objected to being known mainly as a war-poet, but he was endlessly to recycle the material that made his name.
Less than a decade after the publication of Counter-Attack he would return to the war for a prose trilogy that was to consolidate his fame: Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (1928), Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) and Sherston’s Progress (1936). And when that was completed he returned to the same material for the third time in his three-volume autobiography, The Old Century (1938), The Weald of Youth (1942) and Siegfried’s Journey (1945). Significantly, a fourth volume, not based on his war experiences, w...