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E. W. Hornung’s unpublished “Diary,” the YMCA, and the reading soldier in the First World War

King, Edmund (2014). E. W. Hornung’s unpublished “Diary,” the YMCA, and the reading soldier in the First World War. English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920, 57(3) pp. 361–387.

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On the afternoon of 2 September 1914 Charles Masterman, Liberal cabinet minister and newly installed head of the War Propaganda Bureau, convened a secret meeting at Wellington House, formerly headquarters of the National Health Insurance Company. Some of Britain’s most high-profile authors had been invited, and no fewer than twenty-five attended in person, each keen to contribute to the Allied propaganda offensive. At the conference table that afternoon were, among others, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, John Masefield, Thomas Hardy, and H. G. Wells. Rudyard Kipling sent his apologies but promised to help the Bureau in any way he could. Attendees at that first meeting, along with others recruited subsequently, would soon start to make determined writerly interventions on behalf of Britain’s war effort. Ford Madox Ford started writing When Blood Is Their Argument for Wellington House in September 1914. A second propaganda book, Between St. Dennis and St. George, followed in January 1915. Conan Doyle brought Sherlock Holmes out of retirement to fight the Germans in “The Last Bow.” Both Kipling and Conan Doyle toured the front lines and wrote of their experiences in propagandistic form, Kipling as France at War (1915), Conan Doyle as A Visit to Three Fronts (1916). Writers associated with Wellington House would ultimately produce some of the most influential and widely read British books of the war: John Masefield’s Gallipoli, Arnold Bennett’s Over There: War Scenes on the Western Front, Ian Hay’s First Hundred Thousand (1916), and John Buchan’s Hannay thrillers.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2014 Not known
ISSN: 0013-8339
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities > English & Creative Writing
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Research Group: History of Books and Reading (HOBAR)
Item ID: 40543
Depositing User: Edmund King
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2014 13:26
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2019 21:53
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