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Matlock1418

"Goodbye to all that" = Fact or Fiction?

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Matlock1418
Just now, Michelle Young said:

I don't  recall  it being an arm and a leg, it's a third printing of the 1929 edition, in reasonable condition. 

AbeBooks are worth a look 

Thanks I'll have a browse.

All this just because I borrowed a book from my local library!

Literary analysis and discussion not my normal bag, but finding it interesting thanks to GWF

Already cost me some for a growing bookshelf - and as I said my arms are short!

Onwards ... will never get all that reading done at this rate and not planning to take them "Graves'" to my grave.

;-)  :-)  :-)

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David Filsell

It's important to remember, the the school of disenchantment writing did not really take off until the late 1920's. The wartime and immediate post war the tone of writing about the war and by those involved  was very largely patriotic and reflective of personal experience.It seems to me that  both Graves and Sasoon (in particular) seem to reflect both the positive and the negative in their writing - whatever the accuracy of the 'stories' that they finally wrote. Equally it should be born in mind that despite his actions on the river Mersey, Sassoon also returned to the war.  

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Matlock1418

My compare and contrast exercise is shortly due on GTAT 1929/1957

From my limited reading, not just of Graves and Sassoon (a while back), many positive and negatives comments seem to have been made by many others too.

Can't say I have noticed a graduation from the war to late '20s (and the time of publishing of 1st ed GTAT) or beyond, or by author but that said I wasn't looking for that sort of thing - Now will be in future paying more attention to see if I detect such nuances.

4 hours ago, David Filsell said:

It seems to me that  both Graves and Sasoon (in particular) seem to reflect both the positive and the negative in their writing

I agree from my limited reading of Graves and Sassoon both positive and negative points / specific and general expressions & impressions of feeling seem to have been made.

Only chose this abstract from your post as I don't really understand it - especially the "Sassoon (in particular)" ???  Sorry, am I being obtuse?

 

And as you also said, both either apparently hoped to or actually went back to the front.

As previously mentioned in the thread perhaps the pressure of being an officer (not letting self and others down) and keeping up with the general sentiment as to patriotism often seems to have overridden other feelings - and often still seems to do today in many ways [even if we aren't military and in the middle of a massive war]

Keeping up appearances, and most notably to oneself, is a very powerful driver - often the sign of a very brave man to override perhaps more natural instincts of self-preservation or disillusionment.  Altruism or self-interest?

Or is it cowardice to not do what you might otherwise feel?

Not casting stones - just reflecting on the various potential interpretations that can play on all, not just on Graves, Sassoon or others from that time or now.

 

As for Fact or Fiction - most auto-biographical writers [and biographical??], in my opinion do usually play more positively on their performance, rather than on their negative, and can be selective in their recollections / admissions - and for them also to relate to the intended audience and the anticipated personal reflection / opinion that falls on themselves.

Seems to me to be human nature not to 'drop yourself in it' any further than you absolutely must - another powerful personal driver.

Graves' account [and undoubtedly many others] seems likely to have been embellished for the audience, and potentially to have a slight side-swipe on some of the readers, but also for financial reward.

The resulting content and style makes for a pretty easy read in GTAT at least.

 

Most of my reading is on practical/technical stuff and the common man and common junior officer too - daily life, tactics and the worm's eye view. Certainly not strategy, big battles and from lofty towers or rank.  Have read some of the latter group, but not my main interest.

I'm however looking forward to my forthcoming compare and contrast - as I said, not my normal style to get into literary analysis!

And still looking for those lines between F & F.

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kenf48
4 hours ago, David Filsell said:

It's important to remember, the the school of disenchantment writing did not really take off until the late 1920's. The wartime and immediate post war the tone of writing about the war and by those involved  was very largely patriotic and reflective of personal experience.It seems to me that  both Graves and Sasoon (in particular) seem to reflect both the positive and the negative in their writing - whatever the accuracy of the 'stories' that they finally wrote. Equally it should be born in mind that despite his actions on the river Mersey, Sassoon also returned to the war.  

 

Expressing surprise and on the publication and initial reception of GTAT Graves denied his work was anti -war, he wrote,

 

"I was surprised at being acclaimed in headlines of daily papers as the author of a violent treatise against war.  For I had tried not to show any bias for or against war as a human institution, but merely to describe what happened to me during a particular and not at all typical one in which I took part".  

As noted in a previous thread in correspondence with Spike Milligan in 1969 he made an unfavourable comparison of the Vietnam War to 'his' war stating,"at least it wasn't such a shameful, soulless, utterly filthy one as the Vietnam War'.

 

The issue of 'anti war' books really came to a head a couple of years after the publication of GTAT, and by then many considered some of the works we now consider 'classics' as obscene, Northampton Public Library for example banned 'All Quiet on the Western Front' from its shelves, such was the strength of feeling.  It became known as the 'War Books Controversy' with many of the familiar tropes that were trotted out during the centenary promoting the war as a tragic senseless slaughter and doomed men led by drunken officers marched to death by heartless generals to a futile end.  

 

The difference being in 1930 the war was still a recent memory in the lives of millions and many of those who survived had taken part in great historical event which had many more dimensions other than propaganda for peace.

 

Ken

 

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voltaire60
19 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

 

 

Not wanting to spoil your love life - am I invited too?

and/or should we get back to the main thrust of the thread? - Please!

  I,m not anti-social-the more the merrier- BUT if you nick all the popadoms, you're a dead man!!!

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phil andrade

About forty five years ago I actually encountered Graves in Oxford.  He scarcely gave me a glance, let alone talked to me : but I was in awe of his presence.  He struck me as a very narcissistic person ; for some reason, he makes me think of Jeremy Clarkson !

 

One of the books he wrote which I’m proud to possess is King Jesus, which was published just after the Second World War.  I think that it’s superb.

 

He concludes this extraordinary book with a chapter titled Historical Commentary, which is a kind of disclaimer to allay the charge of hyperbole : his account of the life and death of Jesus is, to say the least, somewhat controversial.  A significant passage on page 353, reads ..I undertake to my readers that every important element in my story is based on some tradition, however tenuous, and that I have taken more than ordinary pains to verify my historical background.

 

I wonder if he wrote that because he was sensitive to the allegation that there was rather too much of the “ tenuous” tradition in GTAT.

 

Phil

 

 

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Matlock1418
On 10/10/2019 at 13:31, Matlock1418 said:

My compare and contrast exercise is shortly due on GTAT 1929/1957

I'm was slow reader whilst doing this - Has now been undertaken, often with both GTAT editions side by side [so I did try hard - well by my literary standards anyway!]

I'm not trying to do a full compare and contrast here but the 1929 edition did seem much 'fresher' and yet full of idiosyncrasies which often continue into the 1957 edition

On 14/10/2019 at 19:52, phil andrade said:

rather too much of the “ tenuous” tradition in GTAT

Don't know if this would be described as "tenuous tradition" but ... One example seems to be his regiment's title and the of its national adjective used for the RWF in both editions - Welch over Welsh according to Graves.

This seems an approach rooted both in the archaic past and to the then 1929 current [and now] spelling.  A few years of history seem to have been side-stepped by Graves.  Compressing the early RWF regimental history apparently with both early Welch and later Welsh and Welch in its title ... from Childler's reform of 1881 to Army Order 56 of 1920 it appears the regiment should officially have been known as Royal Welsh Fusiliers [reverting to Welch again in 1920] but Graves appears adamant about it being Royal Welch Fusiliers during his time in the RWF.  I wonder how this was viewed by senior officers, inside, and outside, of the RWF

And also other references to historical matters, the RWF 'flash' [King George V is said by Graves to have appreciated this] and mess traditions etc.

Graves, being a declared keen fan of the RWF's historical past and with a later eye on future book sales, one might perhaps see a motive for him using Welch and an traditionalist/nationalistic approach.

The slander of the Cheshire Regiment losing a "Royal" prefix is refuted by many and one that he acknowledges in both editions, but is another delicious author's titbit  - was it really widely believed in in the RWF in 1915/16?  Might its 'colour' have helped sales?

We have already visited the 'machine gun inaccuracies' on tea and tunes.

What facts and fictions there are is hard for me to fully list now [and there are others better at this than me - and I think much previously done] but I think much, possibly most, is to be rather considered 'artistic license', even if not absolute fiction - And yet good for potential sales.

The 1957 edition is much much more considered with virtually every other paragraph reworked in some way it seems, with many deletions and additions too.

The story is familiar with the earlier edition.

In the Prologue however he makes much about the potential for libel in the 1929 edition but I am not really sure how much of this was true at the earlier time and/or just a hype for later book sales.  Others can no doubt better determine.

Both editions seem to get to essentially the same place in the end [in narrative, and in useful cash generation I suspect] - and comparing & contrasting was interesting approach I have never done before.

Both editions were a good & engaging read for me.

I can see why it might be considered a 'classic' - or have I fallen for the sales pitch?

As others have said before - Graves = An author, not a historian - I think/feel sure I would now agree with the former description.

Books written about Graves now await to be read ... I wonder what I will find there.

Edited by Matlock1418

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Muerrisch

Matlock, a few comments for you.

The RWF always used Welch for internal matters, despite Welsh on the Army List, on badges, buttons and colours. The authors of its various regimental histories also clung to it. As Graves himself wrote [private correspondence] "the only organisation that I was proud to belong to was the regiment". For him, it was not a matter of choice to use Welch, but of necessity. Frank Richards also used Welch without  feeling need for explanation.

Regarding the Cheshires, it should not escape your notice that the Cheshires were the next senior regiment: 22nd as opposed to 23rd, thus fair game.

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Matlock1418
1 hour ago, Muerrisch said:

Matlock, a few comments for you.

The RWF always used Welch for internal matters, despite Welsh on the Army List, on badges, buttons and colours. The authors of its various regimental histories also clung to it. As Graves himself wrote [private correspondence] "the only organisation that I was proud to belong to was the regiment". For him, it was not a matter of choice to use Welch, but of necessity. Frank Richards also used Welch without  feeling need for explanation.

Regarding the Cheshires, it should not escape your notice that the Cheshires were the next senior regiment: 22nd as opposed to 23rd, thus fair game.

As I had suspected - they weren't for changing easily.  And fair play - they got Welch back.

It had not - I am sure they were game for a dig, and vice versa one suspects!  ;-)

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Uncle George

Graves tells us that he was “disgusted” to find himself attached at one point to the Welsh [sic] Regiment. I see that they became the Welch Regiment after the First war. A First war Welsh Regiment cap badge to be seen online shows the word ‘Welsh’; whereas Graves tells us (as I remember it) that an officer was ordered off parade as his buttons showed ‘Welsh’, and not ‘Welch’. So the RWF usage in what Muerrisch refers to as ‘internal matters’ does not seem to have been followed by the Welsh Regiment.

Edited by Uncle George

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Muerrisch
2 minutes ago, Uncle George said:

Graves tells us that he was “disgusted” to find himself attached at one point to the Welsh [sic] Regiment. I see that they became the Welch Regiment after the First war. A First war Welsh Regiment cap badge to be seen online shows the word ‘Welsh’; whereas Graves tells us (as I remember it) that an officer was ordered off parade as his buttons showed ‘Welsh’, and not ‘Welch’. So the RWF usage in what Muerrisch refers to as ‘internal matters’ does not seem to have followed the RWF.

 

Not sure that I understand the point here.

 

Perhaps a Welsh/Welch expert might step forward?

 

The RWF drew the line at overt disobedience, except regarding the Flash, with officers defying the authorities as far as they dared even into our period.

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Uncle George
1 hour ago, Muerrisch said:

 

Not sure that I understand the point here.

 

Perhaps a Welsh/Welch expert might step forward?

 

The RWF drew the line at overt disobedience, except regarding the Flash, with officers defying the authorities as far as they dared even into our period.


Sorry for the rubbish post - I corrected it as soon as I realised that I had written such confusing wording. It hope it makes more sense now.

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Muerrisch

As far as I know the RWF officers, whilst clinging to the flash [as also the battalion staff sergeants] wore all uniform items such as cap badges and buttons with the official "Welsh" until 1920.

 

My slender expertise does not extend to the junior regiment !!!!!!!!!

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Matlock1418
2 hours ago, Uncle George said:

Graves tells us that he was “disgusted” to find himself attached at one point to the Welsh [sic] Regiment. I see that they became the Welch Regiment after the First war

The issue that Graves had was that as a Royal Welch Fusilier [have used Welch here for clarity - an old regiment] he had been attached to the Welsh Regiment [a relatively new regiment - which eventually later changed ts name to also include Welch] - two different regiments and Graves' RWF allegiance was clearly showing/shows through strongly in GTAT

As for how the RWF handled the possibility of a "Welsh" button I don't know - but perhaps suspect that Graves was so-minded and/or that it was 'internally' considered a heinous crime against the RWF.  Or was it just another juicy example cited by Graves in order to get his valuable book sales?

5 minutes ago, Muerrisch said:

As far as I know the RWF officers, whilst clinging to the flash [as also the battalion staff sergeants] wore all uniform items such as cap badges and buttons with the official "Welsh" until 1920.

 

My slender expertise does not extend to the junior regiment !!!!!!!!!

You appear to have some inside knowledge.

As you previously said - we need a Welch/Welsh expert!

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Muerrisch

Matlock

 

Perhaps  you stress the mercenary aspect too much ......... not many authors have written a substantial book without an eye to eventual income.

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Matlock1418
6 minutes ago, Muerrisch said:

Perhaps  you stress the mercenary aspect too much ......... not many authors have written a substantial book without an eye to eventual income.

Graves openly admitted his aspirations in that direction when writing.

I have come to the opinion that Graves was not beyond a bit of colourful embellishment in that aim.

And yet I also agree income is important for authors.

Not every one seeks reward, but I guess most do - says he with a small unfinished book about a large quite ordinary family's, but certainly not an extraordinary or unique family's, contribution to the war already on his computer [now realistically probably only for my own family's consumption!]

;-)  :-)

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2ndCMR
On 28/09/2019 at 07:47, kenf48 said:

'Goodbye to All That' is not strictly speaking a war memoir, as was noted on this forum a couple of weeks ago only about half the book is concerned with his war service and the first few chapters are simply a prelude to the war, which for all concerned was a life changing historical fact.  

 

....

 

In part as a counterpoint to the reception of Goodbye to All That Captain J.C. Dunn Medical Officer 2nd Bn RWF  published 'The War the Infantry Knew' a day by day account of war on the Western Front. A much less literary account but probably more historically accurate.

In his account it is generally recognised Graves mythologises the war, for a more prosaic account of his military service I would recommend, 'The Assault Heroic 1895 -1926' the first volume of his biography written by his nephew Richard  P. Graves.  

 

....

 

All memoirs should be approached with some degree of caution especially those 'discovered' in the twenty first century with contemporary editors, at least Captain Graves service is a matter of record, he was there.

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

Pte. Frank Richards also of the RWF wrote two books well worth reading, one an account of his pre-war service in India and the other of his service in WWI.  I see on looking that Robert Graves assisted Richards with the text of his books to some extent.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Richards_(author)

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Matlock1418
5 hours ago, 2ndCMR said:

Pte. Frank Richards also of the RWF wrote two books well worth reading, one an account of his pre-war service in India and the other of his service in WWI.  I see on looking that Robert Graves assisted Richards with the text of his books to some extent.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Richards_(author)

Thanks.

Previously read - Enjoyed them both

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Muerrisch

In 2008 I was privileged to be allowed access to Frank Richards's letters to Robert Graves, written in the 1930s onwards. Stand To! published my lightly footnoted and very lightly edited transcripts. Lest it be thought for a moment that "RG wrote OSND and OSS" ....... a claim often made or hinted at, I offer one such letter below. In a separate letter, FR acknowledged RG's help with "paragraphing". I have an intermediate full typewritten text of OSS, complete with RG annotations. They are no more than any other editor would suggest.

 

Let Frank, who left school at 12 years believing himself an orphan, speak for himself:

 

12th July 1936.

Dear Robert, I forgot to thank you in my last letter for a copy on demand of your next novel about a stamp. [This was Antigua, Penny, Puce, described by Phillip Larkin as ‘unique among novels’ for ‘its variety of original invention, not to mention its humour’]. I read your interesting letter in the Daily Telegraph dated 21/5/36. According to old Roman law there may not be ground for a triumph, but if one is held Mussolini will take good care that it is awarded to him, he doesn’t seem the type of man that would like to play second fiddle, even for a day, to another man in Italy. Look at it which way you like, if Mussolini had not held the reins of power for so many years there would have been no conquest of Abyssinia, and the way he out-manoeuvred the League of Nations makes me think he is a disciple of the teachings of Machiavelli. Like we in India, Italy will have her troubles with tribal wars for some time to come, but once she has consolidated the country she will be looking for fresh fields to conquer. British East Africa to the south and Egypt on the west are rich plums worth fighting for, in my opinion’ it’s only a question of time before we will be at war with Italy over these plums. Wouldn’t mind

 There was an illustration here in Stand To!

betting that the majority of readers of the Daily News Chronicle and Daily Herald would much prefer to give the whole of the British Empire away than raise a finger in defence of it. …. Rather tough you having to turn Bobbajee [cook], I like cooking too, done quite a lot of it in my time, impossible to beat the French at cooking vegetables, they are not so proficient when they have to roast something. …. It should do you the world of good to see your children after such a length of time, if they inherit half of your ability they should get on very well in any profession they may take up. [Graves and his maturing children made several attempts at a reunion if not reconciliation around this time]. Women are queer mortals who want some understanding, there is something mysterious in their mental make up which no man yet has been able to fathom. [On 2nd August 1936, Graves and his entourage were forced to flee the Spanish Civil War in a British destroyer, and began a ten year exile from their home].

 

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Muerrisch

To round this up, below please find what I wrote on RG for my book "Duty Done":

 

 

Second Lieutenant Robert von Ranke Graves became a well-known poet and author after his war service with both regular battalions of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.   His life and works are well documented, so this short account will concern itself only with regard to his military service, primarily his three periods of duty with 2RWF, using the PRO file WO 339 23299, his regimental obituary, TWTIK and his own autobiographical Goodbye to All That.   It should be noted that the obituary leans rather heavily on his book, a book that was not well regarded in terms of accuracy or style by Dunn. 

He was educated at Charterhouse and on the outbreak of war at the age of eighteen joined the Reserve Battalion 3RWF and was granted a probationary commission as Second Lieutenant on 15 August 1914, along with seventeen other young men.   Graves embarked for France 12 May 1915 and went to 2RWF via 2Welsh Regiment, which latter he appears to have disdained although being generous enough to explain its faults by reference to previous massive casualties.   His initial impression of 2RWF was not a favourable one either and it is perhaps just and appropriate that his arrival late July/early August 1915 was scarcely noticed and was not entered into the War Diary.  He was placed in A Company under GO Thomas.   TWTIK did not acknowledge his presence until September.  He was soon involved in the Battle of Loos and went briefly to command B Company after the heavy losses of that month.  His promotion to Reserve Captain was promulgated 26 October 1915 causing some embarrassment as he was both very young and inexperienced compared with regular officers junior to him in rank.  He was posted to 1RWF on 27 November 1915.   Whilst on leave from  1RWF in March and April 1916 his leave was extended and a Medical Board was ordered.  Graves explains [GTAT] that he had unsuccessful nose surgery performed by an Army surgeon who ‘bungled the operation’.  He arrived back with 2RWF 6 July 1916 and was this time accorded the recognition of an entry in the War Diary. 

Robert Graves returned to a very differently manned battalion from the one he had been with in August 1915, but was surprised to find the atmosphere poisoned against him by an officer who Dunn identifies in manuscript in the margins of his copy of GTAT, Chapter 19, as Gambier-Parry [see also Section 5.12 above].  The root of the problem was jealousy and the excuse was Graves’s name and German ancestry on his mother’s side.  Gambier-Parry was commissioned into 3RWF with Graves but, having become a regular officer of the Regiment as Second Lieutenant 13 April 1915, was still only a Lieutenant with seniority 20 March 1916.  [There is however a problem with unhesitatingly identifying Gambier-Parry as the slanderer, in that Dunn identifies another officer for that rôle in another of his marginal notes.  This minor mystery is dealt with at more length in Chapter 10 below].   Graves went to D Company and was very seriously wounded by shell fire on the Somme 20 July 1916 in chest, hand, leg [‘lucky to escape emasculation’] and eye.  He was indeed left for dead, officially died of wounds and was reported as such, prompting an obituary* in The Times newspaper.  After extensive hospitalisation in England he returned to 2RWF with health impaired 28 January 1917 and on 12 March was sent to England sick and was struck off the strength.   He claimed that during his brief stay he was temporarily CO when James Cuthbert was sick.  Thus ended Robert Graves’s active war, although he served in UK with an Oxford Officer Cadet battalion [allegedly as a temporary major] and inter alia with 3RWF in Limerick after the Armistice.   Beating a hasty and [by his own account] improper retreat from the Army, he resigned his commission, and, with a disability pension, went off to enjoy the rest of his long and creative life.  When the Second World War broke out, he applied and was accepted for the Officer Emergency Reserve on 15 September 1939. 

For detail on the less than close relationship between Graves and Dunn see Simpson’s Introduction to TWTIK.   Graves was not allowed to contribute to TWTIK.  There is much of value in GTAT but for the historian it is flawed, perhaps fatally so.  Finally, Graves played a seminal rôle in the preparation of Frank Richards’s superb voice from the ranks, Old Soldiers Never Die, for which we must be most grateful.  It is unfortunately not sound to rely on GTAT authenticating the latter, or vice versa.  It has been claimed that Graves “re-wrote” OSND.  From examination of the proofs of the book, it is clear his role was as an editor: paragraphing, improving punctuation, asking for expansion of an incident and clarification of a name, date or place.  Richards was sufficiently grateful to sign one-third of the royalties over to Graves for life, thus enabling the purchase of the property in Mallorca …. The first instalment came just in time.

 

*  if indeed there was an obituary, zealous search has failed to find it. Perhaps a Graves embroidery.

 

GRAVES R von R extracts from PRO file.

 

1.     Charterhouse

2.     embarked 12 05 1915

3.     to 1RWF from 2RWF 27 11 15

4.     to base 13 01 16

5.     to battalion 09 03 16

6.     1RWF AL 14 03 to 03 04 16 leave extended, Medical board ordered

7.     1RWF off strength 28 06 16

8.     was accepted for Officer Emergency Reserve 15 09 1939, ‘will be removed for age’ 7/55 dated 05 02 40

 

 

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David Filsell

Mr M

a valuable posting. Many thanks.

Regards

David

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Matlock1418

GTAT seems a litany of quite famous 'names' with whom Graves interacted in more than a passing manner - Is it known which are fact and which might be fiction?

A non-definitive list, avoiding most military persons that he would have met in normal daily military life, might include:

Bennett, A
Birrell

Blunden, E

Buchan, J

Elliot, TS

Galsworthy,J

Hardy, T

Huxley, A

Lawrence, TE

Mallory, G

Masefield, J

Milne, AA

Moore

Novello, I

Owen, W

Richards, F

Russell

Sassoon, S

Shakespeare, W

Shaw, GB

Sitwell, E

Wells, HG

There are many other persons mentioned in GTAT too.

Are these all confirmed and/or there others that might usefully be listed/categorised

Edited by Matlock1418
Additions

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Uncle George

Did he not also come across future Prime Minister of Canada and Jim Reeves lookalike Lester Pearson? 

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Muerrisch

A more productive search for authentic interactions might be of the three volumes of his biography.

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593jones
11 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

GTAT seems a litany of quite famous 'names' with whom Graves interacted in more than a passing manner - Is it known which are fact and which might be fiction?

A non-definitive list, avoiding most military persons that he would have met in normal daily military life, might include:

Bennett
Birrell

Blunden, E

Galsworthy,J

Hardy, T

Lawrence, TE

Mallory, G

Masefield, J

Milne, AA

Moore

Novello, I

Owen, W

Richards, F

Russell

Sassoon, S

Shakespeare, W

Wells, HG

There are many other persons mentioned in GTAT too.

Are these all confirmed and/or there others that might usefully be listed/categorised

 

You could possibly add Colonel Nasser, Graves said that Malcolm Muggeridge told him that Nasser had been one of Graves' students at Cairo University.  It is a fairly peripheral acquaintance, however.

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