Sunday, 13 April 2014

Did Wilfred Owen meet Rosaleen Graves during WW1?


In the book "A Naturalist goes to War" by Philip Gosse, MD, a General Practitioner from the New Forest who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps for the duration of WW1, Gosse explains that he was the official British Army Ratcatcher for a while on the Western Front.  On page 64, Gosse quotes from a letter written by Siegfried Sassoon, who was a friend of the Gosse family, to Gosse's Mother, in which Sassoon says:

"There is a young poet in the Battn., 19 years old and a temporary Captain - Robert Graves, son of Alfred Perceval Graves (rather a bad poet isn't he?).  R.G. writes moderately well, and is a great admirer of Samuel Butler (“Erewhon” author), and shocks his venerable sire with violent Trench lyrics about lice and corruption.  His Father retaliates with impassioned hymns in "The Observer"."

It seems that Sassoon met Rosaleen Graves, Robert's sister and one of the Female Poets featured in my project, in No. 54 General Hospital in Wimereux, France where she served from 23rd November 1917 until March 1919.   Sassoon was apparently treated at No 54 General Hospital before being sent home to England when he was wounded in July 1918, as he wrote a poem about it.  

Sassoon introduced Wilfred to Robert Graves on 13th October 1917 - presumably in London?   And Wilfred Owen attended the wedding of Robert Graves to Nancy Nicholson at St. James's church in Piccadilly on 23rd January 1918 (though Sassoon did not go as he'd been posted back to France at Christmas 1917).  It was then that Wilfred Owen met Charles Scott Moncrieff.  What I want to know (and will try to find out) is did Rosaleen Graves get leave to attend her brother’s wedding and meet Wilfred Owen?

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