‘When I come home and leave behind Dark things I would not call to mind …’ wrote Leslie Coulson, one of the many soldiers who tried to express his wartime experiences in writing: dreaming of an idyllic England in the face of the horror of the Western Front. Coulson was one of the hundreds of thousands who did not come home – but because of his poetry we glimpse something of his thoughts and experiences.
Today we can be grateful that so many of those who endured the First World War did write about it: giving us an unmatched view of an event which would otherwise be completely beyond our ability to imagine. The Writers’ War is a collection of excerpts from outstanding accounts of the First World War. It provides an essential insight to anyone interested in modern history or early twentieth-century literature. Extraordinary extracts bring the human experience of war brilliantly to life – from the terror of bombardment, or the camaraderie of military service, to the home front.
The writing reflects an enormous range of nationalities and personalities. It includes memorable poetry, fiction, and journalism. Some great names of modern English literature appear, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, D. H. Lawrence and Rudyard Kipling. In addition, there are superb accounts by foreign authors such as novelists Edith Wharton and Henri Barbusse, and flying ace Manfred von Richthofen. The Writers’ War gives an unparalleled insight into a world-changing event, and what it meant in human terms both to the writers and millions of others caught up in it.