In this collection, edited by his grandson, there are touching and revealing letters to friends as diverse as Winston Churchill and Lady Diana Cooper, love letters to his wife, Katharine, as well as frank and witty anecdotes about many of the major social figures and politicians of the day. His letters from the Western Front, before his death on the Somme in 1916, are as memorable as anything in the painfully emotive literature of the period.
Reviewed by Sue Gaisford in Slightly Foxed Issue 59.
His vocabulary was replete with words such as apolaustic and banausic, about which he would bombinate, but he could also be very funny: his parody of Kipling, beginning ‘The sun, like a bishop’s bottom/ Rosy and round and hot . . .’ doesn’t bear reproducing here in full, but is unforgettable, as is his comment on Alfred Douglas’s heart-rending lines about the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. This is the verse:
Alas I have lost my God
My beautiful God Apollo
Wherever his footsteps trod
My feet were wont to follow.
There is ‘just a reminiscence’, writes Raymond, ‘of Mary had a little lamb . . . which adds a certain piquancy of contrast’.
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 59, Autumn 2018