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Siegfried Louvain Sassoon
(September 8, 1886 - September 1, 1967) U.K.

Siegfried Sassoon

Poet

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Born in Benchley, Kent, into a wealthy Jewish family, Sassoon attended Marlborough school, then Clare College, Cambridge. He was attracted to other men from an early age, but began to make sense of his homosexuality only when he read and later met Edward Carpenter.

In WWI he served in France, and after the death of his lover, a young subaltern named David Thomas, Sassoon earned the nickname "Mad Jack" because of his reckless bravery and intense hatred of the Germans. Sassoon was also attracted to a 19-year-old soldier named Gibson, who was killed in action in he battle of the Somme.

Siegfried SassoonSlowly, Sassoon began to change his views on the war and began to blame the political leadership of Great Britain, rather than the Kaiser, for its continuing stalemate. He began to write the poetry for which is remembered in the trenches during the war. His bleak realism and his contempt for war leaders found expression in his verse. In 1917, dispatched as a "shell-shocked" to hospital, he encountered and encouraged W. Owen and organized a public protest against the war.

His volumes of poetry published in the 1929s established a high reputation. Sassoon married in 1933 and had one son. In 1957 he became a Catholic. The last 30 years of his life were spent writing poetry and memoirs. He remains an enigmatic figure in gay history: in his younger years homosexual but later, like Lord Alfred Douglas, he lived comfortably as a conservative, religious, aristocratic heterosexual.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001 - et alii

Work:

  • The Old Huntsman (1917)
  • Counter-Attack (1918)
  • War Poems (1919)
  • Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man (1928)
  • Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930)
  • Vigils (1935)
  • Sherston's Progress (1936)
  • The Complete Memirs of George Sherston (1937)
  • The Old Century and Seven More Years (1938)
  • The Weald of Youth (1942)
  • Siegfried's Journey (1945)
  • Sequences (1956)
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