Siegfried Sassoon: A Biography by Max Egremont
The life of Siegfried Sassoon has been recorded and interpreted in literature and film for over half a century. He is one of the great figures of the First World War, and Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man and Memoirs of an Infantry Officer are still widely read, as are his poems, which did much to shape our present ideas about the Great War. Sassoon was a genuine hero, a brave young officer who also became the war's most famous opponent, risking imprisonment and even a death sentence by throwing his Military Cross into the Mersey. He was friend to Robert Graves, mentor to Wilfred Owen and much admired by Churchill. But Sassoon was more than the embodiment of a romantic ideal; he was in many senses the perfect product of a vanished age. And many questions about his character, unique experience and motivations have remained unanswered until now.
With unprecedented access to Sassoon's complete papers and the support of the family, and after insightful conversations with Sassoon's lover Stephen Tennant, Max Egremont has produced a wonderfully insightful and engaging book that is as much a vivid portrait of an era as it is an elegant and fascinating biography of a complicated and enigmatic man.
Siegfried Sassoon's life has been recorded and interpreted in literature and film for over half a century. But this poet, First World War hero, friend to Robert Graves and mentor to Wilfred Owen, was more than the embodiment of a romantic ideal.
Passionately involved with the aristocratic aesthete Stephen Tennant, married abruptly to the beautiful Hester Gatty, estranged, isolated, and a late Catholic convert, his private story has never before been told in such depth. Egremont discovers a man born in a vanished age, unhappy with his homosexuality and the modernist revolution that appeared to threaten the survival of his work, and engaged in an enduring personal battle between idealism and the world in which he moved.
Shortlisted for the 2005 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Autobiography