Siegfried Sassoon

 

Siegfried Sassoon was born in 1886 in Weirleigh in Kent, and studied at Marlborough College and the University of Cambridge. He left without a degree, but published nine pamphlets of poems between 1906 and 1912. He enlisted as soon as war broke out, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers in May 1915. In November he went to France, and to the front itself in March 1916.

 

He received a Military Cross for his bravery in a raiding party in May, and was invalided to Oxford after contracting dysentery later that year. His disillusionment at the war had started to develop, and he met and talked to pacifists such as Bertrand Russell.

 

Upon his return to France in 1917 he was wounded and sent back to England where, encouraged by Russell and others, he wrote his ‘Declaration against the War’. His friend the poet Robert Graves intervened, fearing that Sassoon would be court-martialled, and after a sympathetic hearing, he was sent to Craiglockhart to be treated for neurasthenia.

 

He returned to France in May 1918, but was shot in the head in June. Although he recovered, he did not return to fight before war ended that November. He continued to write and publish poetry throughout the war and afterwards. His son George was born in 1936 during his short marriage to Hester Gatty.

 

He received a CBE, an honorary fellowship from Cambridge, and an honorary degree from Oxford., and died in 1967 at the age of 80.

The award-winning play by Stephen MacDonald  |  UK & West End Tour 2014