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literature

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Sassoon, Siegfried (1886-1967)  
 
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Sassoon's war poetry brought him some fame. For several years he served as literary editor of London's socialist newspaper the Daily Herald. He soon began the lengthy process of writing his six-volume, fictionalized autobiography, which chronicled the devastating effects of war on a naïve young English gentleman.

The first volume, Memoirs of a Fox-hunting Man was published in 1928; the second, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, in 1930. The autobiography was completed in 1945 with the publication of Siegfried's Journey. The autobiography is a major achievement. The first volume, in particular, is significant as an elegy for the life of rural England that ended catastrophically with World War I.

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During the 1920s and early 1930s, he engaged in several affairs, notably a romance with the future Nazi Prince Philip of Hesse, and a longer relationship with poet and decorator Stephen Tennant. These were tempestuous relationships in which Sassoon often felt himself the victim of rejection and cruelty.

In December 1933, he married Hester Gatty, a woman twenty years younger than himself, and in 1936, the couple had a son, George. By many accounts, Sassoon treated Gatty as badly as he had been treated by many of his male lovers, and by 1945, they were divorced, though Gatty returned to nurse Sassoon later in his life when he became ill.

The rest of Sassoon's life passed in quiet conventionality. He converted to Catholicism during the 1950s, and died on September 1, 1967, at Heytesbury House in Wiltshire, England. He was buried at St. Andrew's Church in Mells, Somerset, England.

Although his war poetry continues to find readers, Sassoon today is remembered primarily for his autobiography.

Tina Gianoulis

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    Bibliography
   

Caesar, Adrian. Taking It Like a Man: Suffering, Sexuality and the War Poets: Brooke, Sassoon, Owen, Graves. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1993.

Fry, Michele. "Biography of Siegfried Sassoon." Counter-Attack Website. www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk.

"The Knitting Circle: Poetry. Siegfried Sassoon." The Knitting Circle. Website of the Lesbian and Gay Staff Association of London South Bank University. myweb.lsbu.ac.uk/~stafflag/sassoon.html.

Piggford, George. "Sassoon, Siegfried (Louvain)." Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History from Antiquity to World War II. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds. London: Routledge, 2001. 394.

Rubin, Martin. "All His Writing Life, Sassoon Returned to WWI Horrors." The Washington Times (December 28, 2003): B8.

Sassoon, Siegfried. Siegfried Sassoon Diaries, 1915-1918. Rupert Hart-Davis, ed. London: Faber and Faber, 1983.

Wilson, Jean Moorcroft. Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet: A Biography. New York: Routledge, 1999.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Sassoon, Siegfried  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated October 16, 2007  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/sassoon_s.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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