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Sassoon, Siegfried Loraine, 1886-1967 (poet and author)

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1886 - 1967

Biography

Poet and writer Siegfried Loraine Sassoon was born on 8 September 1886 at Weirleigh, near Matfield in Kent. His mother, Georgiana Theresa Thornycroft, was from a prominent family of sculptors and artists, while his father, Alfred Ezra Sassoon, came from a wealthy Jewish merchant family. His father left home when he was seven and died soon after, so Siegfried and his brothers, Michael and Hamo, were raised solely by their mother.

Educated at Marlborough College (1902-4), Sassoon read law at Clare College, Cambridge (1905-6) but left before taking a degree, choosing instead to live the life of a country gentleman, fox-hunting, cricketing, playing golf, and reading and writing poetry. His early poems were printed privately and distributed chiefly among family and friends.

It was the onset of the Great War that propelled Sassoon from a life of relative idleness and luxury into his role as soldier-poet and vitriolic critic of the War. In 1914, Sassoon enlisted as a trooper in the Sussex Yeomanry. The following year, he was commissioned in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and sent to France, where his bravery earned him the nickname 'Mad Jack'. In June 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in action. In April 1917, however, he was wounded in the shoulder, and while recuperating in England wrote his 'Soldier's Declaration', a statement in protest against the continuation of the War, calling for a negotiated peace. Sensitive to the needless suffering of his men, affected by the deaths of close friend, David Thomas, and of his younger brother Hamo (killed at Gallipoli in November 1915), and enraged with a sense that the conflict was being needlessly prolonged by those who had the power to end it, Sassoon had become increasingly disillusioned with the politics of the War. His protest statement was read out in the House of Commons and printed in 'The Times' in July 1917. Sassoon expected a court-martial; instead, due partly to the intervention of his friend Robert Graves, he was declared to be suffering from 'shellshock' and sent to Craiglockhart Military Hospital in Edinburgh. There he met the poet Wilfred Owen and became his friend and mentor. He also formed a friendship with psychologist and anthropologist William H. R. Rivers, who eventually helped persuade Sassoon to return to the front. In February 1918 he was posted to Palestine, but was sent back to France in May where he received a head wound which ended his direct involvement in the War.

During his time at the front, Sassoon wrote many of the war poems which were to establish his reputation as a poet. Caustic, bitter, moving and compassionate, his poems reflected the savage reality of war. These were published in a series of volumes entitled 'The Old Huntsman and Other Poems' (1917), 'Counter-Attack and Other Poems' (1918), 'Picture Show' (1919), and 'War Poems' (1919).

Throughout his life Sassoon continued to write and publish poetry. He also kept copious diaries, many of which later formed the basis of his prose work: the Sherston novels, a thinly veiled autobiographical trilogy based around the fictitious character George Sherston, beginning with 'Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man' (1928), and a second trilogy of true autobiography, beginning with 'The Old Century and Seven More Years' (1938). In 1948 he also published 'Meredith', his biography of the novelist and poet George Meredith. He remains best known, however, as a war poet.

Sassoon married Hester Gatty in 1933 and purchased Heytesbury House in Wiltshire. His marriage followed a series of homosexual relationships, most notably with artist Gabriel Atkin and socialite Stephen Tennant. His only son George was born in 1936, and his marriage dissolved a few years later. In 1957 Sassoon converted to Catholicism. He died in 1967 at the age of eighty.

In his lifetime Sassoon was honoured with a number of awards. In 1928 he received the Hawthornden Prize and the James Tait Black Prize for his book 'Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man'. In 1951 he was appointed CBE, while in 1957 he was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He received honorary degrees from the Universities of Liverpool (1931) and Oxford (1965), and was made an honorary fellow of Clare College, Cambridge in 1953. He is among sixteen Great War Poets commemorated in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Found in 81 Collections and/or Records:

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 Series

Letters, postcards and telegrams from Siegfried Sassoon to Cyril Tomkinson, 7 June 1922-22 Aug. 1945

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9926/1
Scope and Contents

With related items, including notes by Tomkinson, press cuttings and photographs. Until September 1924 Sassoon addressed the correspondence to 'C. F. Tomkinson' in error.

Dates: 7 June 1922-22 Aug. 1945
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Other level

Letters to Hester Sassoon from Siegfried Sassoon, 1957-1966

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9877/1/6/1
Scope and Contents

Sassoon Sassoon married Hester Gatty (1906-1973) in 1933 and had a son, George. After some years, Hester took up residency on the island of Mull, with occasional visits to Siegfried at Heytesbury House, Wiltshire. These letters post-date their separation. Some are illustrated by Sassoon.

Dates: 1957-1966
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Series

Letters to Ian Davie from Siegfried Sassoon, 30 Apr. 1960-10 Mar. 1965

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9862/1
Scope and Contents

The early letters chiefly concern Sassoon's admiration for Davie's collection of poetry Piers Prodigal, and his efforts to find a publisher for it and champion its reputation. The correspondence also mentions Sassoon's social and religious life, his health, and related topics. With enclosures including two letters from Margaret Villiers to Sassoon and versions of his Foreword for Piers Prodigal

Dates: 30 Apr. 1960-10 Mar. 1965
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Letters to Siegfried Sassoon

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8889
Scope and Contents

The collection largely comprises letters addressed to Sassoon although there are few other recipients such as Glen Byam Shaw and Georgiana Theresa Thornycroft, Siegfried Sassoon's mother. There are also some postcards; draft and unpublished copies of poems; bills; and other related papers.

Dates: 1900-1967
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Letters to Siegfried Sassoon

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9792
Scope and Contents Letters from C. St J. Pulley, Secretary of the Royal Society of Literature, to Siegfried Sassoon (including circular letters to the Academic Committee of the Royal Society of Literature), with related items including an agenda for a meeting of the Academic Committee, a notice of a luncheon, a volume of printed reports of the Royal Society of Literature annotated by Sassoon, and a letter from Thomas Sturge Moore to Sassoon. The correspondence concerns the award of the Society's Benson Medal...
Dates: 1938-1939
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Letters to Siegfried Sassoon; together with related ephemera

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9375
Scope and Contents

A collection of 1094 letters, postcards and other items known as 'Sassoon's residual correspondence' although it does also include a number of items addressed to other persons particularly to his wife, Hester, and his mother, Theresa Thornycroft.

Dates: 1865-1973 (1860s-1970s predominantly 1920s-30s)
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Letters to the Revd Cyril Tomkinson

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.7595
Scope and Contents

From John Betjeman (1), Alec Guinness (14), Ronald Knox (9) and Siegfried Sassoon (10). With related printed items.

Dates: 1912-1960
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

List of Siegfried Sassoon's books and manuscripts in the library of Sir Geoffrey Keynes

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8541
Dates: 1939-1959
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Item

Note to Rivers from Siegfried Sassoon containing a poem called 'Dream Psychology', 1921-03-16

Reference Code: GBR/3377/WHRivers/3/22
Scope and Contents

Sassoon shares with Rivers a light-hearted poem, 'Dream Psychology', that came to him after a dream in which he expresses his feelings about his mother and how he wishes she could 'begin all over again'. Sassoon signs off with his monogram. He refers to Rivers's involvement with 'poetry analysis' and how he wishes to contribute. Rivers treated Sassoon when Sassoon was recovering from war trauma and they became close friends.

Dates: 1921-03-16
 File

Notebook: childhood poems, Oct 1897 - Dec 1897

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9724/1/1
Scope and Contents Notebook with inside title 'More poem's. by S. Sassoon. with illustrations', and inscribed 'For Mamsey. from Siegfried'. In two parts, with dates of 'October 20th', 'December 25th' and 'December 1897' at the front. Written in coloured inks, with crayon illustrations. Part one runs from folios /1-55r. A table of contents is at folios /2r-2v. It includes the following poems, mostly illustrated: - 'List, tis the twilight's shades descending': /3r. - 'The cold earth slept': /3r (adapted from a...
Dates: Oct 1897 - Dec 1897
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Papers of Siegfried Sassoon

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9852
Scope and Contents The Papers of Siegfried Sassoon comprise a magnificent collection documenting his life, wartime experiences and extensive literary career. The collection was purchased by the Library in 2009 from the executors of his son, George. Arranged in twelve series, it includes Sassoon’s personal diaries, poetry notebooks, drafts of literary works and autobiographies, correspondence, press cuttings and photographs. Sassoon was a dedicated diarist and the first series comprises 46 journals...
Dates: 1897-2000 (bulk:1897-1967)
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Papers of the Revd Cyril Tomkinson, chiefly consisting of letters from Siegfried Sassoon

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9926
Scope and Contents

With notes by Tomkinson concerning this relationship with Sassoon, letters and postcards from a few other correspondents, and printed items.

Dates: 1922-1946 (some dates inferred or conjectured)
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Poems by Siegfried Sassoon

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10193
Scope and Contents Notebook comprising fair copies, with some revisions, of poems by Siegfried Sassoon, together with illustrations and decorations. Some of the poems bear the date of their composition. Sassoon presented the notebook to Lady Ottoline Morrell in January 1917 and made additions to it in subsequent years. Contents:Preliminary matter:• [1r]. ‘To victory’ (newspaper cutting from The Times, 15 Jan. 1916) • [1v]. Feather • [2r]. Title page • [2v]. ‘Edition’ statement and...
Dates: 1916-[1930s]
Conditions Governing Access: The volume is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Series

Poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Mar. 1959-12 June 1960

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9862/3
Scope and Contents

'Rogation' and 'A Prayer at Pentecost'

Dates: Mar. 1959-12 June 1960
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 File

'Querkes, Farmonger, and DUSP' by Sassoon, from The Spectator, 19 June 1936

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9877/2/3/1/4
Scope and Contents From the Sub-Series:

Cuttings of reviews and press articles, chiefly from Durrant's Press Agency. Many list Sassoon or Faber and Faber as clients but some were clearly collated by Egremont during his own research.

Dates: 19 June 1936
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Siegfied Sassoon: letters to Emily Lane

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10202
Scope and Contents

Four letters from Sassoon to Lane,

Dates: 1959 - 1961
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Siegfried and Hester Sassoon: Letters to the Gatty Family

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8276
Scope and Contents

A collection of letters from Siegfried and Hester Sassoon (née Gatty) to members of the Gatty family. It consists of 66 letters, 3 cards, 1 photograph and 43 envelopes.

Dates: 1950-1966
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Siegfried Sassoon: Correspondence and Papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8483-8494
Scope and Contents

Correspondence, poems and other papers. Sassoon often issued his poems privately in limited editions, and some of these were seen through the press by A.T. Bartholomew, and later by Geoffrey Keynes. Some of the manuscripts therefore include their correspondence about publication, and transcripts by Keynes.

Dates: 1917-1959
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Item

Siegfried Sassoon: letter to 'Billy', 1 Jan. 1949

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9750/271
Scope and Contents From the Fonds:

Comprises single items or small collections, chiefly correspondence, donated to or purchased by Cambridge University Library. Together with a number of items and fragments found in Cambridge University Library books and bindings.

Dates: 1 Jan. 1949
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Item

Siegfried Sassoon: letter to John Andrew Cromie, 19 Apr. 1947

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9750/297
Scope and Contents From the Fonds:

Comprises single items or small collections, chiefly correspondence, donated to or purchased by Cambridge University Library. Together with a number of items and fragments found in Cambridge University Library books and bindings.

Dates: 19 Apr. 1947
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Siegfried Sassoon: Letters to Glen Byam Shaw.

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9454
Scope and Contents This collection contains 373 letters, notes and postcards from Sassoon to Byam Shaw, 1924-1966; some with additional enclosures. Many have inferred dates written in pencil [by Hart-Davis]. It includes a number of items received by Sassoon and perhaps then forwarded on to Shaw, e.g. MS Add.9454/86-90; these are listed chronologically where not clearly associated with a particular letter. Undated letters are numbered from /369-373. All letters are from Sassoon to Shaw unless otherwise...
Dates: 1924-1966
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Siegfried Sassoon: Letters to Haro Hodson

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9608
Scope and Contents

Sassoon met Hodson in June 1948 and began a correspondence which continued until his death in 1967. The collection consists of 38 letters from Sassoon to Hodson, with some additional enclosures.

Dates: 1948-1967
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Siegfried Sassoon: Letters to him from McFarlin, Rev. Mother Margaret Mary, Superior of the Convent of the Assumption, and nuns of Stanbrook Abbey, c.1930s-1960s

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9700
Scope and Contents

In January 1957, Sassoon began corresponding with McFarlin, Rev. Mother Margaret Mary (McFarlin) of the Convent of the Assumption, a correspondence which led directly to his being received into the Roman Catholic Church in August of that year. The collection consists of 570 letters.

Dates: 1930-1970
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Item

Siegfried Sassoon, 'Merciless music', March 1921?

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9750/307
Scope and Contents

Review of a piano recital by Ferruccio Busoni.

Dates: March 1921?
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
 Fonds

Siegfried Sassoon: Papers Accumulated by Sir Rupert Hart-Davis

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.9724
Scope and Contents

These notebooks, loose drafts, letters and diaries of Siegfried Sassoon were purchased by Cambridge University Library in March 2006 from Roy Davids Ltd, acting on behalf of their owner George Sassoon, son of Siegfried Sassoon. They had formerly been in the possession of Sir Rupert Hart-Davis, who accumulated them in the process of editing Sassoon's diaries, letters and poems for publication.

Dates: 1900-1999 (20th century)
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).
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Additional filters:

ARCHON code (for CUL materials)
Archives and MSS Dept. (GBR/0012) 80
 
Type
Archival Object 56
Collection 25
 
Subject
Poetry 5
First World War (1914-1918) 2
British literature 1
Cricket 1
Dream interpretation 1

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