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Richard Aldington

Richard Aldington


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Richard Aldington was born in Hampshire in 1882. Educated at Dover College and London University he founded the Egotist journal in 1913. He joined the British Army and served on the Western Front in 1916-18 where he was badly gassed. Life for Life's Sake

After the war Aldington published several volumes of poetry including Images 1910-1915 (1915), Images of War (1919), A Fool in the Forest (1925) and A Dream in Luxembourg (1930). His successful novel, Death of a Hero, was a psychological study of a young officer in the First World War.

Aldington also wrote controversial biographies of the Duke of Wellington (1946) and D. H. Lawrence (1950) and an autobiography, Life for Life's Sake (1940).

Richard Aldington died in 1962.

Winterbourne hated the war as much as ever, hated all the blather about it, profoundly distrusted the motives of the War partisans, and hated the Army. But he liked the soldiers, the War soldiers, not as soldiers but as men. He respected them. He was with them. With them, because they were men with fine qualities, because they had endured great hardships and dangers with simplicity, because they had parried those hardships and dangers not by hating the men who were supposed to be their enemies, but by developing a comradeship among themselves. They had every excuse for turning into brutes, and they hadn't done it. True, they were degenerating in certain ways, they were getting coarse and rough and a bit animal, but with amazing simplicity and unpretentiousness they had retained and developed a certain essential humanity and manhood. With them, then, to the end, because of their manhood and humanity. With them, too, because their manhood and humanity existed in spite of the War and not because of it. They had saved something from a gigantic wreck, and what they had saved was immensely important - manhood and comradeship, their essential integrity as men, their essential brotherhood as men.

Not that we are weary,

Not that we fear,

Not that we are lonely

Though never alone -

Not these, not these destroy us;

But that each rush and crash

Of mortar and shell,

Each cruel bitter shriek of bullet

That tears the wind like a blade,

Each wound on the breast of earth,

Of Demeter, our Mother, Wound us also,

Sever and rend the fine fabric

Of the wings of our frail souls,

Scatter into dust the bright wings

Of Psyche!

Impotent,

How important is all this clamour,

This destruction and contest

Night after night comes the moon

Haughty and perfect;

Night after night the Pleiades sing

And Orion swings his belt across the sky.

Night after night the frost

Crumbles the hard earth.

Soon the spring will drop flowers

And patient creeping stalk and leaf

Along these barren lines

Where the huge rats scuttle

And the hawk shrieks to the carrion crow.


Canaday Center

Modernism is a period in literary history which started around the early 1900s and continued until the early 1940s. Modernist writers in general rebelled against clear-cut storytelling and formulaic verse from the 19th century. Instead, many of them told fragmented stories which reflected the fragmented state of society during and after World War I.

Many Modernists wrote in free verse and they included many countries and cultures in their poems. Some wrote using numerous points-of-view or even used a “stream-of-consciousness” style. These writing styles further demonstrate the way the scattered state of society affected the work of writes at that time.

Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are thought to be the mother and father of the movement because they had the most direct influence on early Modernists. Some time after their deaths, the Imagist poets began to gain importance. The University of Toledo’s Canaday Center has a rich collection of poetry and critical work from that era.

Imagist poets generally wrote shorter poems and they chose their words carefully so that their work would be rich and direct. The movement started in London, where a group of poets met and discussed changes that were happening in poetry. Ezra Pound soon met these individuals, and he eventually introduced them to H.D. and Richard Aldington in 1911. In 1912, Pound submitted their work to Poetry magazine. After H.D.’s name, he signed the word "Imagiste" and that was when Imagism was publicly launched. Two months later, Poetry published an essay which discusses three points that the London group agreed upon. They felt that the following rules should apply when writing poetry:

  1. Direct treatment of the "thing," whether subjective or objective.
  2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
  3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.

In the following month’s issue, Pound’s two-line poem “In a Station at the Metro” was published. In addition to the previously published works of Aldington and H.D., it exemplifies the tenets of Imagism in that it is direct, written with precise words, and has a musical tone which does not depend on a specific rhythm:

In a Station at the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd

Petals on a wet, black bough.

Over the next four years, four anthologies of Imagist poetry were published. They included work by people in that London group (Pound, F.S. Flint, H.D., and Aldington), but they also contained the works of Amy Lowell, William Carlos Williams, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Marianne Moore.

World War I broke out soon after the height of Imagism. Some poets, like Aldington, were called to serve the country, and this made the spread of Imagism difficult—as did paper shortages as a result of the war. Eventually, war poets like Wilfred Owen grew in popularity as people shifted their attention to the state of the world.

After the war ended, a sense of disillusionment grew, and poems like T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” showed the way poetry had shifted. This infamous poem contains various narratives and voices that change quickly from one topic to another. This style of poetry differed greatly from the slow and focused poetry of the Imagists. Visit this link to read the poem in its entirety.

Within a few years, many Modernist writers moved overseas. There was an exciting expatriate scene in Paris which included Pound, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein,and Mina Loy. These writers held and attended literary salons. Poets such as E.E. Cummings, Hart Crane, and William Carlos Williams also attended these salons at times.

Not all Modernist poets followed the writers who were making revolutionary changes to the world of poetics. Marianne Moore, for example, wrote some form poetry, and Robert Frost once said that writing free verse was "like playing tennis without a net." Additionally, writers who had gained popularity toward the end of the Modernist era were inspired by less experimental poets such as Thomas Hardy and W.B. Yeats.

By the 1950s, a new generation of Postmodern poets came to the forefront. Adding “post” in front of the word "Modern" showed that this new period was different than the one before it, yet was influenced by it. The Modernist ideas of Imagism and the work of William Carlos Williams, for example, continue to have a great influence on writers today.


Signing of the Armistice Treaty to end World War I – November 11 1918. Wikimedia Commons

World War I (1914-1918), was the bloodiest war in modern history and after four years and three months Catholic politician and Chef de Mission – Matthias Erzberger (1875-1921), German Army General Detlof von Winterfeldt, Count Alfred von Oberndorff (1870-1963) of the German Foreign Ministry and Admiral Ernst Vanselow of the German Imperial Navy, signed the Armistice Document. This was witnessed by French Marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) and Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss (1864-1933) the First Sea Lord, on behalf of the Allies. This memorable event took place between 05.12hours and 05.20hours, French time, on 11 November 1918 in Marshal Foch’s railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne, Picardy, France. In attendance were French General Maxime Weygand (1867-1965), Rear-Admiral George Hope (1869-1959) – the Deputy First Sea Lord and Captain John Marriott (1879-1938) of the Royal Navy.

Dover Town Council Seal – depicting St Martin of Tours. LS

At 10.20hours, that morning the British Prime Minister (1916-1922), David Lloyd George (1863-1945) announced that, ‘the Armistice was signed at five o’clock this morning, and hostilities are to cease on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day.’ At the precise time all fighting ceased on the battlefields and shortly after, it was estimated that during the conflict some ten million souls had perished. Of these, estimated at the time, about 960,000 were British and Dominion servicemen. By coincidence, the 11th of November is celebrated as St. Martin’s feast day, the patron saint of soldiers, France and Dover. Martin was a soldier in the 4th century Roman Army and on his discharge went to Poitiers, France. There, he became a disciple of Saint Hilary and in AD371, was appointed Bishop of Tours. Many miracles were attributed to him, most notably offering half of his cloak to a beggar at the gate of Amiens and afterwards experiencing a vision of Christ relating the charitable act to the angels. It is for this act that St Martin was venerated and this is how he is depicted in Dover’s coat of arms.

World War I Victory Parade 19 July 1919 the Cenotaph was a temporary structure for the occasion. Evelyn Larder Collection

A year after the signing of the Armistice, in 1919, at the then recently erected wood-and-plaster temporary Cenotaph – designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), in Whitehall, London a special Armistice Day service was held. The monument had been erected for the Victory Parade held on 19 July 1919 and was scheduled for demolition shortly after. However, pressure from the general public was such that by the end of the month it was announced that the temporary Cenotaph would remain until replaced by a permanent structure and would be in memory of all who had fallen during World War I. The Portland stone Cenotaph, which is seen today was started in early 1920 by Holland, Hannen & Cubitts of London and was scheduled to be unveiled by King George V (1910-1936). As part of the 1919 Armistice Day service, for two minutes from 11.00hours all but essential traffic, including railway trains, were stopped and silence was observed. Up until 1945, Armistice Day continued to be celebrated on 11 November and included the two-minute silence.

During World War I, some 300,000 British and Dominion soldiers with no known grave had been killed and there was a groundswell of public opinion that a representative nameless hero of the War should be dignified with a national burial. The government, in 1920, appointed George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston (1859-1925) to look into the possibility. Lord Curzon was a senior Conservative politician who in 1905, had held the position of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports. He set up a committee and it was agreed that Westminster Abbey would be a fitting burial place. Although it is said elsewhere that George V was against the proposal, the King immediately announced that he would represent the nation as the chief mourner at the burial. The date chosen was 11 November 1920 – Armistice Day and the day chosen for officially unveiling the newly built Cenotaph.

Westminster Abbey c1920s. Evelyn Larder Collection

Following George V’s announcement, applications to attend the Westminster Abbey service came from some 1,500 of British and foreign members of high society and dignitaries, but Lord Curzon had other plans. The service in Westminster Abbey would take place after the Cenotaph service where representatives of the fighting forces would be. At the Abbey, there were places for 2,800 people and seating would be available at the windows in the Government Offices along Whitehall.

There would have to be seats at the Abbey for the immediate Royal family, 40 representatives of the Government and Dominions – including two Prime Ministers that had served during the War – the heads of the prominent religious denominations and principal walks of public life. A further two hundred were to be set aside for Peers and Members of Parliament who had lost a close relative in the War and a hundred for representatives of the various ex-servicemen organisations.

Thus, there would be approximately 2,400 seats at the Abbey and these, the Curzon committee decided, would be made available to the relatives of those who had fallen but whose identities had been lost. At the top of the list were women who had lost their husband and sons or husband and only son. Next, were mothers who had lost all or only sons. Third, widows who had lost their husband and finally, women who had lost their husband or sons but whose graves was known. If there were more applicants than seats the same principle was to be applied to the allocation of seats in the government office windows along Whitehall. For those who were still unlucky there would be a reserved section along Whitehall, near the Cenotaph. If, on the other hand, the spaces were not all taken, there would be a ballot of those who had lost a close relative with a known grave.

Clearing Station of the injured circa 1918. Doyle collection

The War wounded had areas reserved for them along Whitehall near the Cenotaph as long as they wore their medals and ex-servicemen, also wearing their medals, would have sections reserved from them. They would all be encouraged to join in a parade following the Cenotaph Service and to lay wreaths, if they wished, during a slow march past. They would also have sections reserved for them outside of the Abbey.

The Curzon report was accepted by Parliament and the order of the proceedings was such that the King, Royal Princes, the government, church and the other representatives would all be attending the Cenotaph service before going to Abbey. The unveiling of the new Cenotaph was to take place at 11.00hours and for two minutes, excepting essential traffic, all traffic including railway services was to be stopped. However, Parliament decided, the occasion would not be a Bank Holiday as, they decreed, it would cause a great dislocation of business and a public holiday was one for ‘national rejoicing and therefore hardly suitable for a day on which so solemn and an impressive ceremony was to take place.’

Members of Parliament representing naval constituencies asked if an unknown sailor could be buried alongside the soldier to which Prime Minister, Lloyd George responded by saying that ‘representatives from the Admiralty and from the Air Board had attended the discussions. The conclusion come to be all the Services was that under the circumstances the course that has been adopted is the right one. The inscription on the coffin is not a soldier but as an unknown warrior.’ (Hansard 01.11.1920) Representatives from foreign governments asked if they could have seats at Westminster Abbey but were told that they could attend the Cenotaph service, the service at the Abbey was exclusively a national ceremony.

Meanwhile, officers and soldiers had been sent to Aisne, Arras, Pyres and Somme – the four major battlefields – to exhume four bodies of soldiers buried there who had died in the early years of the War. The bodies had to be as old as possible in order to ensure they were sufficiently decomposed to be unidentifiable. Having been examined to check that there were no identification marks, the four bodies were wrapped in old sacks and taken to a chapel at Saint Pol-sur-Ternoise, near Arras, northern France. This was on 7 November 1920 and there the Reverend George Kendall (1882-1961) and two undertakers received the bodies. At the stroke of midnight Brigadier Louis John Wyatt (1874-1955) General Officer Commanding British Troops in France and Flanders and Lieutenant Colonel EAS Gell of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries went into the chapel alone.

The bodies were on stretchers, each covered with a Union Jack. The two officers did not know from which battlefield the individual bodies had come from. Brigadier Wyatt, in some reports say blindfolded, others with his eyes closed, touched one and then the two officers placed that body into a rough coffin, which had been left for the purpose. The other three bodies were given a ceremonial burial led by Reverend Kendall. The one chosen was taken by an army ambulance to Boulogne and carried into the Officers’ Mess by eight non-Commissioned officers drawn from the various Armed services including one from Australia, another a Canadian. There, it was then taken into the library that had been quickly converted into a Chapelle Ardante. The floor was strewn with autumn flowers and the coffin was placed on a table, covered with a tattered Union Jack from the Front and guarded by the non commissioned officers.

HMS Verdun – Admiralty ‘V’ class torpedo-boat destroyer that carried the Unknown Warrior home to Britain. Wikapaedia

In the meantime the British torpedo-boat destroyer, HMS Verdun , carrying an iron bound oak coffin provided by the Undertakers Association had arrived at Boulogne. The Union Jack covering the coffin was the same one used to cover the coffins of Nurse Edith Cavell (1865-1915) and Captain Charles Fryatt (1872-1916) when their bodies were brought home. Nurse Cavell had helped some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium to neutral Netherlands during the War. She was arrested and tried on 7 October 1915 and shot five days later. Captain Charles Fryatt had commanded the Great Eastern Steamer Brussels , which had been a scourge to German shipping. Captured in June 1916 after he had failed to ram the German U-33 , Captain Fryatt was convicted before his trial and executed on 27 July 1916. The Verdun was named after French victories at Verdun, and was one of twenty vessels of the Admiralty ‘V’ class then in service. Built by Messrs Hawthorn, Leslie and Co. at Hebburn-on-Tyne she was delivered in November 1917 and attached to the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla of the Atlantic Fleet. Her commanding officer was Lieutenant-Commander Colin S Thomson.

The iron bound oak coffin was taken to the Chapelle Ardante and the body was moved from the rough coffin and placed into the oak one. Fastened to the lid was a sword from George V’s personal collection and a plaque bearing the inscription:

A British Warrior who fell
in the Great War 1914/1918

In the early hours of the 10 November, the eight non-commissioned officers, who had vigil, placed the coffin, covered with the Union Jack that Captain Thomson had brought from England and wreaths, onto a wagon. With an escort of French and British soldiers the precious cargo was taken through Boulogne where, even though it was early in the morning, thousands of French men and women lined the streets to pay their respects. One Frenchman summed up the general feeling by saying that the British Warrior had died ‘for our country as much as his own.’ At the Quai Gambetta, where the Verdun was tied up was Marshall Foch and General Weygand. The White Ensign was lowered to half-mast while the coffin was carried up the gangplank and piped aboard with an Admiral’s salute.

The Verdun , with an escort of destroyers, arrived outside Dover’s Western entrance at 13.00hours. The sky, it was reported, was solid grey – appropriate to the occasion. The colour was reflected in the calm sea and the normally white cliffs of Dover took on a grey hue as did the town and Castle. Although Dover’s seafront was crowded, all was quiet when at 15.00hours the Verdun , followed by her escort, slowly steamed along the entire length of the Southern breakwater to the Eastern entrance. From there she came in alone, the escort of destroyers having returned to sea. The Verdun made her way across the harbour and at the same time the Field-Marshal’s salute of 19 guns was made from the Castle. The silence returned and the lines of troops waiting along the entire length of the Admiralty Pier stood, their heads bowed and arms reversed.

Unknown Warrior arriving at Admiralty Pier from Boulogne 10 November 1920. Dover Express

As the Verdun drew closer to her mooring, stern first, the military bands on the quayside struck up Sir Edward Elgar’s (1857-1934), Land of Hope and Glory . In the stern was the coffin covered by the special Union Jack on top of which were wreaths given by the French, the crew of the Verdun and the various British Units that had attended during the Unknown Warrior’s time in Boulogne. At each corner was a Verdun sailor, with his head bowed and rifle reversed. Behind stood the Adjutant-General, Sir George McDonough (1865-1942). The Verdun crew were at their stations standing to attention. The coffin was taken off the ship by six warrant officers, representing the different services all of which had taken an active part in the War. It was then passed to the pallbearers – six senior officers of the different Services who too had played an active part. The Adjutant-General followed the coffin and after him came Major General Sir John Raynsford Longley (1867-1953) and Colonel Knight who was in command of the Dover garrison.

The coffin of the Unknown Warrior being carried along Admiralty Pier to the awaiting train. Dover Mercury

On the quayside were dignitaries representing Royalty, the Armed Services and the Church as well as Dover’s Mayor Charles Selens and Councillors. The coffin was then transferred, with great ceremony, into the waiting South Eastern and Chatham Railway passenger luggage van no 132. The same special carriage that had carried the bodies of Nurse Cavell and Captain Fryatt. Inside was decorated with laurels, palms and lilies and the coffin, still covered with the Union Jack, was guarded by four servicemen, arms reversed and representing each of the armed services. The wreaths, carried from the Verdun, were placed on the top of the coffin.

However, locals were prevented from paying their respects at Admiralty Pier, which caused a great deal of upset. The Dover Express commented, ‘Not even those widows from Dover who mourn their husbands who have no known grave, were allowed entry.’ At the time the villages of Eythorne, Swingfield, St Margaret’s and Temple Ewell had unveiled War Memorials to their inhabitants that had been killed. In Dover, there was a strong movement wanting the town to forget about the past and to concentrate on moving forward. It was not until the 29 October 1924 that Dover’s War Memorial, in front of the Maison Dieu House, was unveiled. Sculpted by a former student of Dover’s Art school, Richard Reginald Goulden (1876–1932), it was unveiled by Vice-Admiral Roger Keyes (1872-1945), who oversaw the Zeebrugge and Ostend Raids. Most of the town‘s inhabitants including War-time Mayor, Sir Edwin Farley, attended. A plaque was added after World War II in memory of locals who fell during that conflict.

A small shunting engine that also hauled two more carriages pulled the long railway carriage carrying the Unknown Warrior from Dover to London. One carriage was full of wreaths and flowers and the other, soldiers. As the train steamed into Victoria station it had an impromptu effect on those on the concourse. Dignitaries and onlookers alike fell silent and quietly wept. The silence remained as the train drew to a halt and Officers and Grenadier Guardsmen drew up, saluted, but the silence continued. The coffin was taken to a specially created Chapel of Rest at the station and everyone stopped and bowed their heads.

The weather on the morning of 11 November 1920 was bright and clear. The coffin was placed onto a gun carriage and covered with the special Union Jack. On the flag, soldiers placed side arms and a steel helmet. Taking their positions at the side were, Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdoe (1859-1945), Admiral Sir Charles Madden (1862-1935), Field Marshal John French 1st Earl of Ypres (1852-1925), Field Marshal Lord Haig (1861-1928), Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson (1864-1922), General Lord Horne (1861-1929), General Julian Byng Viscount Vimy (1862-1935), and Air Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard (1873-1936). The Unknown Soldier left the railway station followed by lines of soldiers doing a slow march to the sound of muffled drums. The entourage took an hour to reach the Cenotaph and along the way the London streets were crowded with silent, motionless, folk – many with their heads bowed.

Armistice Day 11 November 1920, Cenotaph before unveiling London. Evelyn Larder Collection

George V and the selected dignitaries were at the Cenotaph and when the coffin arrived the first thing the King did was to place a wreath of laurel leaves and crimson flowers on the top of the coffin. A brief service followed and when Big Ben struck 11.00hours, George V pressed a button and the Cenotaph veiling flags – Union Jacks – dropped to the ground and two minute silence ensued. The stillness was broken by the sound of the Last Post and George V placed a wreath at the base of the Cenotaph. This was followed by the lying of wreaths by dignitaries and appointed representatives of the armed services.

Headed by massed bands, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and the heads of the other denominations, they left the Cenotaph. Behind them the coffin of the Unknown Warrior was escorted by the senior military personnel, followed by the King, the Royal Princes and the dignitaries. Four sentries were posted at the Cenotaph, one at each corner drawn from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force, heads bowed and resting on their Arms reversed. Then came the march past by members of the Armed Forces of Britain and the Dominions, followed by hundreds of former service personnel all wearing their medals and many carrying wreaths.

The Unknown Warrior’s coffin being taken into Westminster Abbey 11 November 1920. Times

Family members of those lost during the War were already in the Abbey when non-commissioned officers of the Guards carried the coffin in. They passed between two lines of men who had either won the Victoria Cross or had otherwise been distinguished for special valour during the War. George V walked behind followed by the Princes, Peers, Statesmen and selected dignitaries. The coffin was lowered into the grave and the King scattered it with soil brought from the battlefields. Hymns were sung and the short service ended with the throbbing of drums and bugles sounding the réveille.

Following on from the former servicemen and women passing the Cenotaph came the ordinary folk of which there were so many that there were still queues as darkness fell. After the service had finished in Westminster Abbey, members of the Armed forces, former service personnel and ordinary folk filed passed the tomb of the Unknown Warrior until closing time. The next day and for days after both the Cenotaph and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier were visited by thousands. On one afternoon a number of ex-servicemen, in wheelchairs having lost both legs, lay wreaths at the Cenotaph before going on to the Abbey. On one of the wreaths were inscribed the words ‘Lest We Forget.’

Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey. Doyle collection

The tomb of the Unknown Warrior was finally sealed on 18 November 1920 by which time over one million people had paid their respects. Soil brought from the battlefields of France and Flanders filled the grave. Capped with a black Belgian marble stone, the inscription by the Dean of Westminster, Herbert Ryle (1856-1935) engraved in a brass plate from melted down wartime ammunition reads:
Beneath this stone rests the body // Of a British warrior //Unknown by name or rank // Brought from France to lie among // The most illustrious of the land // And buried here on Armistice Day //11 November 1920, in the presence of // His Majesty King George V // His Ministers of State // The Chiefs of his forces // And a vast concourse of the nation //Thus are commemorated the many // Multitudes who during the Great // War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that // Man can give life itself // For God // For King and Country // For loved ones Home and Empire // For the sacred cause of justice and //The Freedom of the World // They buried him among the Kings because he // Had done good toward God and toward // His House

Around the main inscription are four texts, at the top: The Lord knoweth them that are his, the side: Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live, the other side: Greater love hath no man than this and at the base: In Christ shall all be made alive.

Edward / Richard Aldington. From the Internet

One of those who stood in silence that day at the Cenotaph and walked down to gaze into the tomb of the Unknown Warrior was a young soldier, brought up in Dover and suffering from shell shock. His name was Edward Aldington (1892-1962) and using the name Richard Aldington, not only became one of the county’s acclaimed War Poets he is acknowledged as such in the Poets’ Corner, in Westminster Abbey. Christened Edward Godfree Aldington, he was born at Portsmouth on 8 July 1892, the eldest son of Albert Edward Aldington (1864–1921), bookseller and later a solicitor‘s clerk and his wife, Jessie May Godfree (1872–1954). Jesse later became an acclaimed novelist in her own right and was the keeper of the Mermaid Inn, Rye.

The family came to Dover around 1898 and after attending preparatory schools at Walmer and St Margaret’s, Edward was enrolled into Dover College in 1904, which apparently he did not like. His father Albert opened his own legal practice at 18 Castle Street about 1905, and it was expected that Edward would train to become a solicitor when he grew up. However, Albert’s business acumen left a lot to be desired and after two years, the family, which by this time included two daughters, moved to Eastry and Edward left Dover College. The family then moved to Kingston-upon-Thames where, in 1911, another son, Paul – known as Tony – was born. When Edward was about 17-years-old he published his first book of poetry and shortly after enrolled at University College, London.

Due to his father’s continuing financial problems, Edward had to leave university before graduating but he did manage to secure a job as a sports writer. Albeit, Edward’s real interest was writing poetry and prose and he soon came under the wing of literary hostess, Ethel Elizabeth (Brigit) Patmore (1882–1965). Bridget introduced Edward to like minded individuals, including poet and critic Thomas Ernest Hulme (1883-1917) who had founded the influential Imagist Movement in the United States. With poet and critic Ezra Pound (1885-1972), poet and translator Frank Stuart Flint (1885-1960) and American poet and novelist Hilda Dolittle (1886-1961) – known as H.D – Edward was a founding member of the British Imagist Movement. Others who joined included Folkestone’s novelist and historian John Mills Whitham (1883-1956) and Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965) known as T.S.Eliot. The Imagist principles were that of directness, precision, concreteness and free rhythmic cadence and Edward was the editor of their magazine, The Egoist . In 1913 Edward and H D married and in 1915 they published their joint work on translations from Greek and Latin, Images, Old and New .

Richard Aldington- Images of War 1919 front cover, designed by Paul Nash and published by Cyril William Beaumont of Beaumont Press

At the outbreak of World War I, having been rejected as unfit for military service, Edward worked as the secretary to novelist and poet Ford Maddox Ford (1873-1939) writing propaganda material. Albeit, Edward continued to apply to join-up and on 24 June 1916 he was accepted by the 11th battalion of the Devonshire regiment. T.S.Eliot, took over the editorship of The Egoist and Edward was reported as saying that ‘I was 19 when I was brought into it, and by 1916 I was deep into first war and out of Imagism.’ ( Victory in Limbo – A History of Imagism 1908-1917 by J B Harmer – Secker & Warburg 1975). Securing a Commission six months later Edward embarked for the Front. During the remaining war years, he saw some of the worst fighting in France and Flanders. One of his jobs was to collect the identification discs of those who had been killed. Of this, he later wrote:
Well, as to that, the nastiest job I’ve had
Was last year on this very front
Taking the discs at night from men
Who’d hung for six months on the wire
Just over there.
The worst of all was
They fell to pieces at the touch
Thank God we couldn’t see their faces
They had gas helmets on …’ (Images of War, Beaumont Press, 1919)

Besides shell shock Edward suffered from chronic bronchitis due to exposure to mustard gas and he was gazetted out of the Army in February 1919. Shortly after he and H D separated. During the War, American art student Dorothy (Arabella) Yorke (1891–1971) had moved into the flat above the Aldington‘s. She and Edward became lovers and they stayed together for a number of years. Using the first name of Richard, Edward wrote his anthology of War poems, the Images of War . The cover and the decorations were designed by surrealistic artist Paul Nash (1889-1946) and the typography and binding was arranged by Cyril William Beaumont (1891-1976). The book was printed by hand on Beaumont’s press at 75, Charing Cross Road, Westminster, London on the evening of St George’s Day (23 April) 1919.

Although, initially, only a limited number of the anthology were published it was a great success and Edward adopted the name Richard. He and Arabella moved to Berkshire where Richard worked as a critic and translator of French poetry. He also wrote a book about his friend, novelist David Herbert (DH) Lawrence (1885-1930): D. H. Lawrence, An Indiscretion . Signed up by Alexander Stuart Frere (1892-1984) for the publisher William Heinemann – Frere later became the chairman of the publishing House – he encouraged Richard to write. Over the next ten years Richard produced a proliferation of novels, short stories and poems. His most famous novel, Death of a Hero, was published in 1929 and was described by novelist and critic George Orwell (1903-1950), as ‘the best of the English war books.’ It is a semi-autobiography centring on a George Winterbourne who enlists in the army at the outbreak of World War I. As a poet, Richard’s acclaimed piece was A Dream in the Luxembourg , dedicated to his old friend, Brigit Patmore. In recent times it is seen as evocative of the 1920s.

Richard Aldington in the Times of 4 July 1938

The first time the BBC broadcast the Armistice Day ceremony was in 1930. That evening the Company broadcast the British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance from the Albert Hall and was followed by an anthology of War poems, including Richard’s. In the early 1930s, journalist Mark Goulden (1898-1980) took over the editorship of the Sunday Referee turning it into a lively and popular journal for the British thinking classes. His columnists included many famous intellectuals from the literary world and Richard was one of those who contributed. However, Richard spent much of the late 1920s to the mid-1930s in France with DH Lawrence and Brigit Patmore. While in France, he wrote seven novels and discovered and encouraged Irish novelist Samuel Becket (1906-1989).

In March 1936, Richard led a contingent of well known authors, including T.S.Eliot, Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), A.A. Milne (1882-1956), Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), H G Wells (1866-1946) and Virginia Woolfe (1882-1941), in a plea to the British government to change the laws of libel. At the time an author only had to describe a fictional character, for a person with means to seek legal action. They would then contend that the character was a deliberate misrepresentation of them and provide two witnesses to confirm the accusation. However, in November 1937, Richard was in court and was forced to pay £1,500 in damages. He had been cited in a notorious divorce case for having committed adultery with Netta McCulloch (1911-1977), the daughter-in-law of Bridget Patmore. Later that year Richard and HD finally divorced and he married Netta. During World War II (1939-1945) the couple moved to the United States.

During his time in the US, Richard worked in Hollywood and New York, but his greatest achievement was his biography of the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), published in the US in 1943. In March 1947, following the book’s publication in the UK, Richard was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for best biography. By this time, Richard was an acknowledged author of biographies but his work on T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935), Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry , came in for a great deal of flack by British critics. Richard had spent a great deal of time in France during the Inter-War years, where Lawrence was seen as an enemy and the critics there applauded Richard’s biography. In essence, Richard had painted Lawrence as a legend of his own making. Following the publication, Richard was effectively blacklisted in the English speaking world, but by the late 1950’s, his works were back on the shelves. Following which, they were translated into Russian where they became very popular.

Russians’ tribute to Richard Aldington – Reuter 30 July 1962

Richard Aldington died at his home at Sury-en-Vaux, France, on 27 July 1962, having recently returned from Russia. On hearing of his death the Russian Society for Cultural Relations wrote, ‘We are deeply grieved by the death of this veteran of English literature, an outstanding writer whose books served the noble cause of humanism and world peace and won the affections of millions of readers in the USSR.’ Some in the British press took a different stance with the Times of 30 July saying that Richard was an ‘Angry Young Man, years before they became fashionable and became an Angry Old Man.’ However, the Telegraph , of the same day, was kinder saying that, ‘Aldington’s brilliance in so many fields of literature has been rivalled by few of his generation and is indeed rare at any time’. To date there is nothing in Dover to mark this celebrated writer.

Richard’s brother, Paul Anthony Glynn Aldington – Tony, became a solicitor and marrying in 1932, he returned to Dover living and practising at 25 Castle Street. Tony remarried in 1948 and in 1953 was joined in the practice by Welshman, Thomas Robert (Bob) Davies. On 1 October 1963, the partnership was dissolved but both men appeared to carry on working in the practice. Tony became a salaried partner on 1 April 1964 and retired in July that year. However, on 25 May 1965, Tony was struck off the roll of solicitors, having been found guilty of breaches of the solicitors’ accounting rules. His name was restored in July 1974 but in the meantime the firm of solicitors, Knocker, Elwin and Lambert absorbed his and Davies’ practice. Later, Knocker, Elwin and Lambert was of one of the firms that amalgamated to become Knocker, Bradley and Pain – the present day Bradleys solicitors now in Maison Dieu Road.

Unknown Warrior – Unveiling of the Dover Society Plaque programme at Marine Station 17.05.1997. David Iron Collection

Up to World War II (1939-1945), the annual National Service of Remembrance was held on the closest Sunday to Armistice Day, 11 November. Following the War, Remembrance Sunday was fixed as the second Sunday in November. The Unknown Warrior’s grave in Westminster Abbey is the only floor grave/stone in the Abbey that people are not allowed to walk on. On 11 November 1985, 16 Great War poets were commemorated by a slate stone unveiled in the Abbey’s Poets Corner and Richard Aldington heads the list. The inscription, from the work of Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) reads: ‘My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.’

On 17 May 1997, at the former Marine Station on the Admiralty Pier, Dover – now the entrance to Cruise Terminal One – General Sir Charles Guthrie, Chief of the Defence Staff unveiled a plaque commemorating the arrival of the body of the Unknown Soldier into Britain. Commissioned by the Dover Society, Sir Charles said that, ‘the plaque would remind people that the Unknown Soldier was one of 908,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen from the British Empire who went out and were killed in World War I.’

Presented: 11 November 2015

Shortened Version in the Dover Mercury: 03 & 10 November 2011


Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry (Richard Aldington, 1955)

Aldington, Richard. Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry. Regnery: Chicago, 1955. 448 pp.

Revisionist history is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, generally accepted history is often sanitized, and going over historical figures and events in detail allows more ambiguous, complex and thorough interpretations. On the other hand, revisionism leaves the door open for men and women with their own motives for tearing down (or building up) an historical image, crafting history just as biased as what they're claiming to replace. Further, many readers assume that revisions of the "official" story are to be taken at face-value, that new works trumpeting "the true story" or "shocking revelations based on original research" are more truthful than common knowledge.

Richard Aldington was savagely attacked for going after T.E. Lawrence in 1955. No doubt some of the reaction was due to his assault on one of Britain's greatest heroes. However, I strongly suggest the vitriolic tone of his "Biographical Enquiry" is his main demerit. Instead of a rational debunking of the Lawrence legend, it's an angry screed that accepts sensationalism, bias and wild speculation as valid historiography. The result is a book that, while undeniably important, is ultimately of little practical merit.

The Author:

A veteran of World War I, Richard Aldington (1892-1962) was a distinguished poet and novelist before tackling Lawrence. An early founder of the Imagist movement, Aldington became famous for his acerbic, bitingly-satirical writing style, evidenced in his most famous novel, Death of a Hero (1929). Later in life, disenchanted with English society, he exiled himself to Paris, and then spent some time in the United States. Despite his distinguished WWI service, he was ostracized for spending World War II in the United States, and his attack on Lawrence gained him few friends and many detractors. He remained largely a pariah from British society before his death in July 1962.

If Aldington's book remains relevant, it's in providing a corrective to the hagiographic portrayal of Lawrence that prevailed up to then. The hyperbolic adulation of Lowell Thomas is pretty hard to swallow, even if it makes a great story, and a counter-view was needed for discussion to advance beyond simple hero-worship.

Unfortunately, Aldington's book is a nasty piece of work, a vitriolic screed that goes out of its way to demonize Lawrence. His general viciousness and sensationalism undermines any valid points he has to make about Lawrence's character and truthfulness, and his work provides a crude playbook for a half-century of Lawrence detractors to repeat ad nauseum.

The most unattractive thing about the book is Aldington's tone. The text is dripping with sarcasm, acidic parenthetical commentary on Lawrence's every word and action. At times, Aldington comes up with modestly clever asides and bon mots, but at other times he just seems childishly hateful. One example: noting a discrepancy over dates in Lawrence's demobilization (p. 296), he remarks that "it illustrates so well Lawrence's modest confession 'that. he could recall any date.'" As this is, by Aldington's own account, a trivial detail, such an insulting comment is completely uncalled for. He repeatedly parrots lines that are less-than-flattering to Lawrence or his associates - for instance, he repeats Lloyd George's comment on denying "agnostic, atheistic France" a mandate in Syria three times. Aldington's condescension quickly grows tiresome, coming off as a playground bully picking on a popular kid. The sarcastic tone that serves him so well as a novelist undermines his credibility as an historian.

Another problem is Aldington's lack of scholarship. Aldington's method of research consists of comparing Lawrence's account with his biographers (specifically Robert Graves, Basil Liddel Hart, and Lowell Thomas), and accounts of others. There is some value in this, but the problem here is that Aldington always assumes that: a) Lawrence is the one fibbing, b) Lawrence's biographers cannot be blamed for the discrepancies (highly suspect in Thomas's case), and c) Lawrence is deliberately lying in all cases. That Lawrence may have somewhat embellished facts, or more mundanely misremembered them, is a valid point, but to go a step further and claim him a pathological liar is something else entirely. Aldington's disuse of primary documents - for instance, government reports - can be somewhat excused, but certainly hurts his case.

Aldington employs many strawman arguments. He says that Lawrence claimed his own responsibility for creating the idea of the Arab Revolt, and inventing the campaign against the Hejaz Railway. He also claims that Lawrence's subtitling of Seven Pillars as "a triumph" is vanity or egoism rather than irony over the ultimate failure of the Arab Movement. To be fair, Lawrence took undue credit for certain aspects of the campaign, particularly the raid on Aqaba, and Aldington is right to point this out. And he does a good job of deflating Robert Graves's claim that Lawrence read 50,000 books at Oxford, and discrepancies in his accounts of specific events between, say, personal correspondence and his memoirs. It's something else, however, to use this as proof that Lawrence deliberately lied about everything.

Aldington's motives are highly suspect. He had his own traumatic experiences in France during World War I, where he was wounded. Obviously this affected him a great deal, as evidenced by his body of work and troubled life. The overall tone seems to be of a man who fought in France, the decisive theater in the war, angry that someone from "the sideshow of a sideshow" got all the glory. Aldington even admits this, particularly in this revealing passage (p. 381):

Ergo, Aldington's motives as suspect if not more so than what he claims of his subject. Apparently Lawrence's hardships in the desert, helping to unite disparate Arab tribes and providing a front that, at the very least, proved a useful "sideshow" to the British war effort, while under extremely harsh and trying conditions, is nothing compared to Aldington's own contribution, because Lawrence did not serve in France. To which I say, phooey. Even if we accept that Lawrence gilded the lily in Seven Pillars and elsewhere, Aldington's self-righteousness insults Lawrence and others who fought in peripheral theaters of WWI.

I might also suggest, if only parenthetically, that Aldington, already disenchanted with British society, wanted to bring the despised British Establishment down a peg by attacking one of their cherished heroes. The final line of the book, "Lawrence was the appropriate hero for his class and epoch" (p. 388), is highly suggestive of this.

Aldington creates the playbook for what Robert Bolt called the "facile Lawrence denigrators." Everything is here: emphasis on Lawrence's illegitimacy (Aldington was the first English writer to mention this, though Frenchman Leon Broussard first brought this to light in 1941), the downplaying of the Arab Revolt, the downplaying within that of Lawrence's own contribution, the treatment of Lawrence as pathological liar and egomaniac, etc. He also posits Lawrence as betraying the British cause by supporting the Arabs, a claim that exemplifies the tendency of Lawrence revisionists to view his political sympathies from extremes (as we'll see with Suleiman Mousa). Just about the only thing later skeptics would disparage is his acceptance of the Deraa Incident it wasn't until Suleiman Mousa's T.E. Lawrence: An Arab View (1962) that a biographer strongly questioned Lawrence's account.
For any discussions of Lawrence's sexuality, I think it's key that Aldington is the first major biographer to strongly assert Lawrence as homosexual this seems tacked on as a kick in the teeth, with absurd psychoanalysis culminating in the charge that Lawrence's evil mother warped his personality (. ). Without expanding into a full-blown discussion here, I don't think it's a coincidence that allegations of Lawrence's homosexuality originated with Aldington, and have largely been parroted by Lawrence detractors since. The charge's general acceptance by even those sympathetic towards Lawrence shows the dangers of uncritically accepting "revisionism" as more valid than the "official" story.

All in all, Aldington's book is a bloody-minded hatchet job, saved only by virtue of being reasonably well-written. Any value it has as a corrective to what he calls "the Lawrence Bureau" is undermined by its overall smuttiness. This wouldn't be so much a problem if many people, unwilling to concede that old-fashioned heroes may have a grain of honor to their name, take Aldington and his successors at face value. There's room for debate in any area of history, but vitriol and dishonest scholarship is something to be discouraged.

"If psychoanalysing someone is difficult by a licensed psychiatrist speaking with his subject, it's ridiculous for it to be attempted by a writer after his subject is dead and gone." - CooperToons

"Aldington's 'debunking' was made with such ill-conceived sarcasm and vitriol that he virtually demolished his own case." - Michael Asher

"Reading Aldington’s book is a bit like standing under a waterfall of venom." - Robert Irwin

"[Aldington provides] a sharper, deeper, cagier assessment. than. any of his predecessors." - Stephen E. Tabachnick

"[Aldington] had come to see Lawrence as the hero of a decadent society which he detested. He seems to have believed that if he could destroy Lawrence's reputation, this would in some way deeply wound the British establishment." - Jeremy Wilson


Pursewarden

Death of a Hero was published in 1929 but despite the time lag is very much a product of the First World War, in which Aldington fought, was wounded, and became recognised as a war poet. Incidentally, the distinction of becoming acknowledged both as a novelist and as a poet is a rare one. One thinks of Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy and Lawrence Durrell (with whom Aldington would conduct a famous literary correspondence later in life), but the list is a short one.

Death of a Hero was highly commended many years after its publication by Durrell, and while one has to be careful about this since Durrell was being sycophantic and could lay flattery on with a trowel when he felt like it, his judgement is sound. It has a fair claim to being the first truly modernist novel of the twentieth century, though To The Lighthouse was published in 1927, Women in Love was written during the First World War itself, and The Longest Journey as early as 1907. Despite the chronological order of these novels, however, there is a quality that sets Aldington apart from either Woolf, Lawrence or Forster.

Woolf was concerned with the technical aspects of novel writing, most famously her use of the stream of consciousness technique, and with dissecting the psychological motivations of her characters. She was apt to forget Forster’s famous reminder that “the novel, oh dear yes, the novel tells a story”, and perhaps this had something to do with the decline in her popularity. Am I alone in finding her unnecessarily “difficult” to read? Aldington tells his story in direct, straightforward prose, and I use the word “story” deliberately since there is that unfashionable combination of elements: a beginning, a middle and an end (almost literally since the book is divided into three sequential sections).

Lawrence was concerned, at least partly, with portraying the sexual aspects of human relationships, both actual and repressed. Aldington does not bother with these niceties but dives straight into describing sexual relationships as they actually occur, leaving the reader to draw their own conclusions. There is not the same analysis between the characters as occurs in The Rainbow and Women in Love. Here, the story is told and that is that. Aldington would probably never have come up with such memorable prose as describing someone as “not a coherent human being but a roomful of old echoes”, yet much of Lawrence’s conversation seems stilted and artificial to a modern reader, whereas Aldington’s does not. Incidentally, the lack of sexual analysis did not save Death of a Hero from the attentions of the censor, and substantial cuts had to be made before publication.

Forster was of course a completely different sort of writer, one who liked to make his points by wry observation much in the way of Jane Austen or E.F. Benson, and it is probably no coincidence that both he and Benson were gay there is the same deliciously camp flavour about both their prose styles. While some might take issue with this, one could argue that what he wrote were essentially novels of manners. Again, Aldington had little time for this. He tells us bluntly what happens and leaves the question of any judgement of the characters to the reader.

It is this gift of ruthlessly honest observation, simply told, that distinguishes Aldington’s work and provides him with a distinctive voice, and it for this reason that I venture to call him a truly “modernist” writer. He is not playing around with technical fireworks, or trying to impress with florid prose, but telling a story acted out by deftly crafted characters.

The story such as it is may be quickly told, though I am deliberately not going to give away the ending of the book save to say that it foreshadows a novel of the second war by Sartre. Had he read Aldington, I wonder? George Winterbourne is brought up in a seemingly conventional middle class family, though his mother has a string of affairs. Moving to London, he begins a thoroughly modern relationship with Elizabeth both agree that they should be free to take other lovers. Eventually marriage results, again with the same agreement as to an open relationship. Things go awry, however, when Elizabeth discovers that on the nights she is spending with her lover of the moment, George is making love to her best friend. What is sauce for the goose, it transpires, is not sauce for the gander. The final section of the book can best be described by saying simply that the First World War intervenes and George goes off to fight in France.

Though Aldington never stoops to judgmental passages, we are clearly meant to see Elizabeth as an unattractive character. She reminded me of various characters drawn by a similarly neglected English novelist, Patrick Hamilton, some of whose women are almost unbearably awful (and some of the men, in fairness, almost unbearably weak). I think the clue to the real meaning of the book lies in its title, however. For me, Aldington is saying that after the horrors of the war it is no longer possible even to keep up a pretence of the possibility of any sort of heroic or principled existence. There are clear auto-biographical elements here as Aldington was not only wounded physically during the war but also suffered for many years from the after effects of shell shock perhaps that is why it took him so long to write this book, which he openly admitted was based partly on his own experiences of a decade before.

George, the “hero” of the book, takes what people say at face value, and is disillusioned by the meaningless destruction of the war, and his fellow officers’ cynical reaction to it. A more complex character would probably have quickly worked out that this was no more than a defence mechanism to the horrors being witnessed on a daily basis, but George is not a complex character he is one who says what he feels and expects others to do the same. Elizabeth is almost exactly the opposite so it is perhaps inevitable that their relationship is doomed from the outset. She speaks in euphemisms and expects others to understand what she only hints at. She espouses sexual freedom but does not expect her husband actually to practise it, and certainly not with her best friend.

Aldington would write other novels, most notably Rejected Guest in 1939, but none would have the directness and freshness of Death of a Hero. He was a prolific writer of non-fiction, especially biographies and criticism, and achieved notoriety as the author of a hugely controversial revisionist biography of Lawrence of Arabia in 1954, the vitriolic reaction to which greatly upset him. By this time he was living in France, having left England for good in 1928, and in 1957 he began the literary correspondence with his near neighbour and fellow exile Lawrence Durrell that lasted until his death in 1962 and which has been published under the title Literary Lifelines.

Aldington is well overdue a re-evaluation. In his early life he was married to the American poet Hilda Doolittle, usually referred to, especially by herself, simply as “H.D.”. According to no less an authority than Ezra Pound, it was Aldington and H.D. who together founded the Imagist school of poetry. As well as his friendship with Pound, he was also to have close relationships with Ford Maddox Ford (alias Hueffer) - both he and H.D. took dictation of passages that became The Good Soldier – and T.S. Eliot. That he was a fine writer there can be no doubt his biography of Wellington won the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Yet in all his writings (or all of them that I have read, at any rate), and particularly when he is being at his most intimate such as in the later letters to Durrell, there is a melancholic nostalgia for a world which probably never existed, or at least not as he would have liked it to. There is the sense of someone who very much wanted to be part of the literary establishment but felt himself a perpetual outsider gazing in through the window like Cathy and Heathcliffe at the Lintons’ dance. His self-imposed exile, the reasons for which baffled his friends and which he never explained, even to Durrell, can be seen in this light. Reading between the lines, much of this may be laid at his own door he seems to have found it difficult to sustain friendly relationships with other writers, or to come to terms with the lack of success which some of his books encountered, though much of this may well be the enduring long term after effects of shell shock, which was not in those days recognised as a disease requiring treatment, except in extreme cases, and certainly not on an ongoing basis (we know that he suffered from severe headaches in later life).

It is precisely this quality of slight detachment, however, that makes Death of Hero such an excellent novel. It is told as if by one standing passively on the sidelines and watching events unfold that, while they are part of one’s life, somehow have an air of unreality and unimportance. Lawrence Durrell was undeniably a great novelist, but maybe it takes one to know one.


What Aldington family records will you find?

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name Aldington. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Aldington census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 329 immigration records available for the last name Aldington. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 210 military records available for the last name Aldington. For the veterans among your Aldington ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 3,000 census records available for the last name Aldington. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Aldington census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 329 immigration records available for the last name Aldington. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 210 military records available for the last name Aldington. For the veterans among your Aldington ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


History

The “Walnut Tree Inn” was built during the reign of Richard II (1377-1399) in the year of the crusades. Five years before, seventeen horses fetched 19 shillings each and six 15 shillings each at auction held in St Martin’s church

When first built, the house was no more than a timber framed, wattle and doubt hut with thatched roof. A fire burned in a central hearth and an aperture in the roof, a louvre, acted as a flue. The floor, of the only room (called the hall) was covered with straw, there were no bedrooms, cupboards or furniture. Supplies and possessions were kept in baskets or boxes. Everyone in the familiy lived, ate and slept in this one room. The average cost of a dwelling of this type was about six pounds.

In the mid fifteenth century a small bedroom was added at a higher level. Reached by a ladder, here the children of the family would sleep on wooden cot beds, often suspended from beams.

In 1456, one Septimus Longbarrow, a yeoman of Ashford purchased the house and 10 acres of arable land for 11 pounds. In 1502 one Joseph Silver, yeoman resided here with his wife Rebecca and seven children, by the turn of the sixteenth great improvements had been carried out to the property and the main dwelling enlarged. in 1611, the property was purchased by one Nicholas Marren a former bailiff of the Manor of Aldington.

Sometime during the seventeenth century ale began to be brewed here, for in a sale document of 1687, a “brew-house” is included in the inventory. In 1704, the property was purchased by one Jonas Quilter.

In August of the same year Quilter stood before two justices at Ashford and was granted a license to sell ales and ciders, from the premises which at this date bore no title but was registered as an ale house under ownership. In 1749, the property was purchased by Thomas Gadhew, who upon being granted a license registered the house under the title of the “Walnut Tree”.

During the Napoleonic wars Aldington was the stronghold of the Aldington Gang, an infamous band of smugglers that roamed the marshes and shores of Kent plying their nefarious trade. The gang’s prolific leaders, Cephas Quested and George Ransley, both natives of Aldington, made the “Walnut Tree” their headquarters and drop point for their illicit contraband. High up on the southern side of the inn is a small window through which the gang would shine a signal light to their confederates up to Aldington Knoll.

The “Walnut Tree’s” association with lawlessness did not end with the demise of the smugglers for as late as 1904 the inn was centre of the cock fighting contests.


Death of a Hero

I initially bought this book when I realised what a big trauma WWI was for the Brits and wanted to learn more about it. Like most people in the world, I learnt history at school, and it was the usual, jingoistic and egocentric version of it that schoolchildren all over the world are subjected to. In Poland, WWI is glossed over but for its one, most important aspect, and that is the return of Polish independence. For us, of course it is all about WWII.

Now that I have read ‘Death of a Hero’ I can I initially bought this book when I realised what a big trauma WWI was for the Brits and wanted to learn more about it. Like most people in the world, I learnt history at school, and it was the usual, jingoistic and egocentric version of it that schoolchildren all over the world are subjected to. In Poland, WWI is glossed over but for its one, most important aspect, and that is the return of Polish independence. For us, of course it is all about WWII.

Now that I have read ‘Death of a Hero’ I can’t believe this country seems to have completely forgotten the unruly, modernist gem. Or perhaps, I can believe it, because Aldington doesn’t have anything positive to say about his motherland.

This book is a precocious and observant child who doesn’t quite know what it wants to be when it grows up but. The author himself acknowledges that in the preface where he says:

“This book is not the work of a professional novelist. It is, apparently, not a novel at all. Certain conventions of form and method in the novel have been erected, I gather, into immutable laws, and are looked upon with quite superstitious reverence. They are entirely disregarded here. To me the excuse for the novel is that one can do any damn thing one pleases.”

And so he does. Even though it seems like the novel has a beginning, middle and end, it really feels like three different novels carelessly stitched together that differ in style and tone. The third person narrator, who claims to be our hero’s friend, every now and then turns omniscient where it suits him and spends the middle part of the book on a soapbox informing us of his various opinions about art, sex and the society.

Finally, Aldington includes the main spoiler in the very title of the book, as well as its prologue. Yes, the main character, George Winterbourne, dies. It’s not so much the war that kills him but the idea of peace and his return to the so called ‘normal life’.

After announcing Winterbourne’s death, the book goes back in time to focus on his parents and grandparents in a sardonic take on the British society. It’s a merciless and very funny caricature of the aspiring British middle class. The reader might question what Winterbourne’s grandparents grotesque marriage had to do with the World War I, but I think the author wanted to do away with this dreamy notion that WWI somehow ended some age of innocence in Britain. That innocence was never there.

It’s not until the last part of the book where we finally get to the war and the life in the trenches. It’s all pathos and bathos, and a pointless horror that WWI was. As powerful as I expected. . more

This book initially came into my hands when I was fifteen years old, and found, by chance, the first unexpurgated edition in a bookstore in Paris. For decades it was censored in England on account of the sheer venom that Aldington brought to his depiction of pre-World War One British society, and of the war itself as conducted by the British High Command. The novel tells the story of George Winterbourne (as in Winter-born), a young modernist British painter who before the war lives marginally in This book initially came into my hands when I was fifteen years old, and found, by chance, the first unexpurgated edition in a bookstore in Paris. For decades it was censored in England on account of the sheer venom that Aldington brought to his depiction of pre-World War One British society, and of the war itself as conducted by the British High Command. The novel tells the story of George Winterbourne (as in Winter-born), a young modernist British painter who before the war lives marginally in London, focused mainly on his art, and has relationships with two young women: Elizabeth (who becomes his wife) and Fanny (who doesn’t, but with whom he continues his liaison). With the coming of war, he on principle joins up as an enlisted man, though his education would entitle him to become an officer. Eventually, the sheer attrition rate of officers obliges him to become one. The novel graphically and eloquently depicts both the hypocrisies of British pre-War society, and the horrors and follies of the War itself. While it was censored in Britain, it became very popular in the Soviet Union: ironically, given that Aldington considered himself an anti-communist.

As I was living in France at the time, this book more than any other I can think of helped me to get a sense of the extremity of horror and societal upheaval that lay behind the vast and silent cemeteries of Verdun, the Somme, and Ypres, and that had helped shape the twentieth century.
. more

A largely autobiographical novel about a British soldier, George Winterbourne, and his experiences in WW1 as an infantryman and then an officer. The novel is broken into thirds. The first part is about George’s parents and his own childhood before the war at the beginning of the 20th century. The Winterbourne’s are faux nobility and an odd family with a manipulative mother. In the middle of the novel we see George strike out on his own to London as an author and then marry a young woman named El A largely autobiographical novel about a British soldier, George Winterbourne, and his experiences in WW1 as an infantryman and then an officer. The novel is broken into thirds. The first part is about George’s parents and his own childhood before the war at the beginning of the 20th century. The Winterbourne’s are faux nobility and an odd family with a manipulative mother. In the middle of the novel we see George strike out on his own to London as an author and then marry a young woman named Elizabeth. George and Elizabeth end up in an open marriage and each take different lovers that makes for some unique situations.

The final third of the novel addresses George’s experiences while fighting on the front lines for the British. He starts as infantryman and serves seven months in France, then is sent home to officer’s school where he returns six months later. This part of the novel is very vivid and shocking much like All’s Quiet on the Western Front.

The writing style used by Aldington is a mix of beautifully poetic paragraphs interspersed with realism and its shocking descriptions of trench warfare. At times there is very choppy dialogue. Aldington was a poet so this may explain the lack of continuity between sentences and his reluctance to use many conjunctions to extend sentences.

So the novel is a little quirky but so authentic in disposing of and railing at many of the Victorian sentiments seen in novels just a decade or so earlier. This novel was banned on its publication in 1929 because of vulgar language, sexual dalliances and graphic descriptions of trench warfare. There is probably little in this novel that would be objectionable to a teenager today. Aldington is an excellent narrator although the dialogue is pretty average. Here is an example of his views in a wonderful prologue.

Under the heading “Killed in Action,” one of these later lists contained the words:

“Winterbourne, Edward Frederick George, A/Capt., 2/9 Battn. R. Foddershire Regt.”

“The small interest created by this item of news and the rapidity with which he was forgotten would have surprised even George Winterbourne and he had that bottomless cynicism of the infantry subaltern which veiled itself in imbecile cheerfulness, and thereby misled a good many not very acute people. Winterbourne had rather hoped he would be killed, and knew that his premature demise in the middle twenties would be borne with easy stoicism by those who survived him. But his vanity would have been a little shocked by what actually happened.”

So I give this novel 4.5 stars, if you like war novels probably five stars.

Death of a hero is a book possessed by a righteous unpitying fury.

The book tells the story of George Winterbourne, an English artist who enlists in WWI, from the perspective of a deeply cynical friend. I assume the book draws heavily on the author’ own experience. Unlike other WWI fiction as much focus is spent on George’s pre war years all the better to castigate and rubbish Edwardian hypocrisy as on the trenches.

In turns moving, funny and sad it does the best job of any book I have read in c Death of a hero is a book possessed by a righteous unpitying fury.

The book tells the story of George Winterbourne, an English artist who enlists in WWI, from the perspective of a deeply cynical friend. I assume the book draws heavily on the author’ own experience. Unlike other WWI fiction as much focus is spent on George’s pre war years all the better to castigate and rubbish Edwardian hypocrisy as on the trenches.

In turns moving, funny and sad it does the best job of any book I have read in capturing the anger returning soldiers must have felt. . more

This is a book of contrasts. The title and start of the novel tells the reader that the central character, George Winterbourne is a soldier in the First World War, killed a week before the signing of the armistice. Published in 1929, it is one of the many novels from the war which in part helped define its historical significance by presenting characters who were seen as victims rather than victors. Not only this, but also, with the increasing mechanisation of warfare, their actual significance This is a book of contrasts. The title and start of the novel tells the reader that the central character, George Winterbourne is a soldier in the First World War, killed a week before the signing of the armistice. Published in 1929, it is one of the many novels from the war which in part helped define its historical significance by presenting characters who were seen as victims rather than victors. Not only this, but also, with the increasing mechanisation of warfare, their actual significance to the outcome of the war was vastly reduced. And many of them realised this.

After telling us about George's demise, the narrator takes us back to his earlier life, his background, childhood and young manhood, his parents, friends, wife and mistress. This part of the book is very funny, almost a social comedy, but as we already know the outcome there is an obvious pathos to it. The humour is dark, the characters who stay in England pathetically ill-informed and unable to comprehend what is about to happen. When the war begins, and carries on, they still have no idea what it is really like to them the British Tommies are heroic gentlemen, and the Germans are barbaric scum. The final section of the book deals with George's time in the trenches in France, first as a Private, and then as an Officer, a suitably more somber time, filled with some of the most graphic details of life and death on the Western Front that I have read.

On leave in 1917 George returns to England where he cannot settle into a 'normal' existence, sleeping during the day and walking around London at night. The following passage made me realise (yet again it seems), that things do not change very much:

'He spent the night aimlessly wandering about the streets and sitting on Embankment benches. He noticed that there were very few occupants of the benches - the War found work for everyone. Odd, he reflected, that in War-time the country could spend five million pounds sterling a day in trying to kill Germans, and that in peace-time it couldn't afford five million a year to attack its own destitution.'

Having recently been told that NATO have informed Britain that we won't fulfill our commitments to them at our current level of spending, it made me consider that the Business of war hasn't changed much over the years, even as we approach the 100th anniversary of the end of that war.

This novel is about George Winterbourne who is drafted into the British Army during WWI, and as an infantryman, is sent to the Western Front, France, to fight and survive as best he can in the trenches. Due to attrition he becomes a lieutenant along the front lines. During battle in the trenches as they are beating back retreating German troops out of their trenches, George, seeing many of his troops dead astound him, pushes himself up to run and gunned down by German machine gun.

Great character This novel is about George Winterbourne who is drafted into the British Army during WWI, and as an infantryman, is sent to the Western Front, France, to fight and survive as best he can in the trenches. Due to attrition he becomes a lieutenant along the front lines. During battle in the trenches as they are beating back retreating German troops out of their trenches, George, seeing many of his troops dead astound him, pushes himself up to run and gunned down by German machine gun.

Great characterization. It makes the development of the plot inevitable, believable, authentic. Makes one think about the lunacy of trench warfare. However, to war generally, the novel makes intelligent, thought provoking points about the sanity of war by nations, and how war changes the soldiers fighting it. . more

The Lost generation. How many times did you hear this definition in regards of people who in their youth went through the battles of World War I and were never the same as a result? Struggles of those young men were commemorated in works of many authors, most noticeable, Hemingway and Remarque. Even though those novels are undeniably classic, as far as I remember they never explore the reasons behind the tragedy of this generation, only consequences and everyday life`s misery of lifeless men and The Lost generation. How many times did you hear this definition in regards of people who in their youth went through the battles of World War I and were never the same as a result? Struggles of those young men were commemorated in works of many authors, most noticeable, Hemingway and Remarque. Even though those novels are undeniably classic, as far as I remember they never explore the reasons behind the tragedy of this generation, only consequences and everyday life`s misery of lifeless men and women. Richard Aldington was the first who introduced the term, and for me, the one who goes full way to explain, why this generation was doomed long before the war.

Death of a Hero spends a lot of time exploring and condemning failings of the old-fashioned British society starting from the imposing of broken and dishonest model of family and relationship between men and women and ending with patriotism and mindset of being the cog in the Imperial machine. George Winterbourne, whose life and death is the focus of the novel, is the young artist, intelligent and sensitive person, whose life was slowly ruined from the very beginning. Combination of low key family abuse and manipulation, an education system that values unquestioning following of orders and not an individuality, abandoning of the hypocritical concepts of a relationship without working alternatives – all of those things shaped George`s character into this introverted, reserved person, that was deeply disillusioned in the world and the majority of people. The observation of humanity at its lowest during the war was just the last straw that eventually drives him to the possible suicide.

Death of the Hero has one of the most brutal and terrifying depictions of war that I can recall. Aldington doesn`t spend a lot of time in glorification of soldier`s brotherhood like Remarque or in the introspection about heroism and life during the war as Hemingway did. He just depicts war from the perspective of one lonely man, that never fits anywhere during peace and whose will for life was just sucked out of him in the cold muddy trenches of the Western Front. The most depressing thing of all here is the fact that this was supposed to be the War to end all wars. But again, Aldington close his novel with the poem, realization, that all this pain and suffering and death was for nothing. Since World War I we saw multiple lost generations and unfortunately, this will happen again.

I want to acknowledge the style of writing on this novel, that Aldington himself describes as jazz novel. I enjoy it a lot, it is fluent and filled with pages of author`s introspection between the story itself. It reminds me of my own rare attempts on writing so I feel connected with this manner.
In conclusion, I think that Death of a Hero is a great novel with a lot of depth, interesting analysis of the society of its historical period, progressive viewpoint on its issues and powerful antiwar message. . more

"The living must protect themselves from the dead, especially the intrusive dead." (page 1)

An excellent sentence that. Isn&apost every ghost story an attempt on our part, those of us who go on living, to reassure ourselves that there is a difference between those who are living and those who are no longer with us, the dearly departed? What&aposs remarkable about this novel with its central character, George Winterbourne, are precisely the ways in which four other characters react to his departure from t "The living must protect themselves from the dead, especially the intrusive dead." (page 1)

An excellent sentence that. Isn't every ghost story an attempt on our part, those of us who go on living, to reassure ourselves that there is a difference between those who are living and those who are no longer with us, the dearly departed? What's remarkable about this novel with its central character, George Winterbourne, are precisely the ways in which four other characters react to his departure from this life, from their world, and in an extended sense, from our world.

The narrator describes each in brief details which should excite the average reader: The Father- "he had spent his life avoiding realities so he took refuge, upon hearing the news of his son's death, in a drivelling religiosity. The Mother- "She found the news of George's death somehow stimulating, especially erotically stimulating. She was in the habit of dramatizing her life and this added to that effort." Death always adds a note to every drama. The Wife and Fanny, the Mistress. They were both good friends and took the death of George in stride, as modern young women are wont to do. . more

I can’t remember who or what directed me to this book. It had to be retrieved from the stacks of the central library and sent to our little branch. It is an original from 1929 and still has the old borrower’s card in the back.

I have read a number of books about the First World War because I wanted to know more about the war my grandfather fought in, a man I never knew. He survived the war but died prematurely from pneumonia that was attributed to him being gased. Aldington vividly describes the I can’t remember who or what directed me to this book. It had to be retrieved from the stacks of the central library and sent to our little branch. It is an original from 1929 and still has the old borrower’s card in the back.

I have read a number of books about the First World War because I wanted to know more about the war my grandfather fought in, a man I never knew. He survived the war but died prematurely from pneumonia that was attributed to him being gased. Aldington vividly describes the brutality of the trenches, the gas attacks, the constant bombardments, the layers that years of fighting leave as you fight over the same piece of ground for months, years. But that is at the end of the book. We learn on the first page that our hero is dead. Aldington takes us back through his life, his loves and leads us back to the death of our hero. If you are interested in this period of history, dig out this book and read it. . more

I approached it with the expectation that it will be strictly about WWI. However, the author decided to thoroughly whip Victorian Britain before. I thought "OK, that&aposs a jolly good idea - show me the roots of the society and who&aposs to blame for the mess". But it dragged and dragged and dragged on. Then it dragged on more, more and then some. By the time I approached the end of the George&aposs childhood, I decided to google the plot.

It turned out that only the last third was about the trenches t DNF.

I approached it with the expectation that it will be strictly about WWI. However, the author decided to thoroughly whip Victorian Britain before. I thought "OK, that's a jolly good idea - show me the roots of the society and who's to blame for the mess". But it dragged and dragged and dragged on. Then it dragged on more, more and then some. By the time I approached the end of the George's childhood, I decided to google the plot.

It turned out that only the last third was about the trenches themselves. I have nothing against it, but I'm not that interersted in the British society of the 1900-10s. Hence, DNF.

This time no rating as there's nothing wrong with the book - just not my cup of tea. . more


Aldington History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Aldington is an ancient Scottish name that was first used by the Strathclyde-Briton people of the Scottish/English Borderlands. It is a name for someone who lived in Cumberland. Alternatively, the name could have been from the Old Norse, Hallstein from the Flemish, Alsteens and appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Alstan, Alestan a personal name. [1]

In England, the name was derived from "als-ton, the hill by the sea-shore," [2] and as Alston(e) appears as at least five different parishes or townships.

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Early Origins of the Aldington family

The surname Aldington was first found in Cumberland, where they held the manor of Aldanstone. One of the first records of the name was "Jurdan de Aldanston [who] was juror on an inquisition held at Berwick on the lands of Lady Elena de la Zuche lying in the sheriffdom of Edinburgh, 1296." [3]

In the same year, Andreu de Haldanstone of Edinburghshire rendered homage to King Edward I after his conquest of Scotland. In the same century, the name had often been shortened to Alston, and in some cases lengthened to Haldanston. The Scottish branch at Craig Head in Lanarkshire and at Westerton in Dumbartonshire also assumed the spelling of Auldston and Alstounes.

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Early History of the Aldington family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Aldington research. Another 158 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1667, 1684, 1687, 1681, 1905 and 1683 are included under the topic Early Aldington History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Aldington Spelling Variations

In Medieval times, spelling and translation were not nearly so highly developed as today. They were generally carried out according to the sound and intuition of the bearer. For that reason spelling variations are extremely common among early Scottish names. Aldington has been spelled Aldanston, Alston, Auldston, Alstounes, Alstone, Alstowne, Aldenston and many more.

Early Notables of the Aldington family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Charles Alston (1683-160), a Scottish scientific writer, born at Eddlewood, and educated at Glasgow. "On his father's death.
Another 26 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Aldington Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Aldington family to Ireland

Some of the Aldington family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Aldington family

Unrest, poverty, and persecution caused thousands to look for opportunity and freedom in the North American colonies. The crossing was long, overcrowded, and unsanitary, though, and came only at great expense. Many Strathclyde families settled on the east coast of North America in communities that would form the backbone of what would become the great nations of the United States and Canada. The American War of Independence caused those who remained loyal to England to move north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the 20th century, Strathclyde and other Scottish families across North America began to recover their collective heritage through highland games and Clan societies. Among them: Samuel and William Alston settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1767 John Alston settled in Barbados in 1685 Rose Alston settled in New England in 1661. In Newfoundland, John Alston an immigrant from Liverpool, was married in St. John's in 1858..

Contemporary Notables of the name Aldington (post 1700) +

  • Richard Aldington (1892-1962), English poet
  • Major Aldington George Curphey MBE, Jamaican President of the Legislative Council of Jamaica (1952-1958)

Related Stories +

The Aldington Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Immotus
Motto Translation: Immoveable.


Biography

H.D. (born Hilda Doolittle) was an American poet, novelist and memoirist known for her association with the early 20th century avant-garde Imagist group of poets such as Ezra Pound and Richard Aldington. The Imagist model was based on the idioms, rhythms and clarity of common speech, and freedom to choose subject matter as the writer saw fit. H.D.'s later writing developed on this aesthetic to incorporate a more female-centric version of modernism.

H.D. was born in Pennsylvania in 1886, and moved to London in 1911 where her publications earned her a central role within the then emerging Imagism movement. A charismatic figure, she was championed by the modernist poet Ezra Pound, who was instrumental in building and furthering her career. From 1916–17, she acted as the literary editor of the Egoist journal, while her poetry appeared in the English Review and the Transatlantic Review. During the First World War, H.D. suffered the death of her brother and the breakup of her marriage to the poet Richard Aldington, and these events weighed heavily on her later poetry. Glenn Hughes, the authority on Imagism, said of her 'her loneliness cries out from her poems. She had a deep interest in Ancient Greek literature, and her poetry often borrowed from Greek mythology and classical poets. Her work is noted for its incorporation of natural scenes and objects, which are often used to emote a particular feeling or mood.

She befriended Sigmund Freud during the 1930s, and became his patient in order to understand and express her bisexuality.

H.D. married once, and undertook a number of heterosexual and lesbian relationships. She was unapologetic about her sexuality, and thus became an icon for both the gay rights and feminist movements when her poems, plays, letters and essays were rediscovered during the 1970s and 1980s. This period saw a wave of feminist literature on the gendering of Modernism and psychoanalytical misogyny, by a generation of writers who saw her as an early icon of the feminist movement.

Hilda Doolittle was born into the Moravian community in Bethlehem in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. Her father, Charles Doolittle, was professor of astronomy at Lehigh University and her mother, Helen (Wolle), was a Moravian with a strong interest in music. In 1896, Charles Doolittle was appointed Flower Professor of Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, and the family moved to a house in Upper Darby, an affluent Philadelphia suburb. She attended Philadelphia's Friends Central High School, at Fifteenth and Race streets, graduating in 1905. In 1901, she met and befriended Ezra Pound, who was to play a major role both in her private life and her emergence as a writer. In 1905, Pound presented her with a sheaf of love poems under the collective title Hilda's Book.

That year, Doolittle attended Bryn Mawr College to study Greek literature, but left after only three terms due to poor grades and the excuse of poor health. While at the college, she met the poets Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams. Her first published writings, some stories for children, were published in The Comrade, a Philadelphia Presbyterian Church paper, between 1909 and 1913, mostly under the name Edith Gray. In 1907, she became engaged to Pound. Her father disapproved of Pound,] and by the time her father left for Europe in 1908, the engagement had been called off. Around this time, H.D. started a relationship with a young female art student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Frances Josepha Gregg. After spending part of 1910 living in Greenwich Village, she sailed to Europe with Gregg and Gregg's mother in 1911. In Europe, H.D. began a more serious career as a writer. Her relationship with Gregg cooled, and she met a writing enthusiast named Brigit Patmore with whom she became involved in an affair. Patmore introduced H.D. to another poet, Richard Aldington.

Soon after arriving in England, H.D. showed Pound some poems she had written. Pound had already begun to meet with other poets at the Eiffel Tower restaurant in Soho. He was impressed by the closeness of H.D. poems's to the ideas and principles he had been discussing with Aldington, with whom he had shared plans to reform contemporary poetry through free verse, the tanka and the tightness and conciseness of the haiku, and the removal of all unnecessary verbiage. In summer 1912, the three poets declared themselves the "three original Imagists", and set out their principles as:
Direct treatment of the 'thing' whether subjective or objective.
To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of a metronome.

During a meeting with H.D. in a tea room near the British Museum that year, Pound appended the signature H.D. Imagiste to her poetry, creating a label that was to stick to the poet for most of her writing life. However H.D. told different versions of this story at various times, and during her career published under a variety of pseudonyms. That same year, Harriet Monroe started her Poetry magazine and asked Pound to act as foreign editor. In October, he submitted three poems each by H.D. and Aldington under the rubric Imagiste. Aldington's poems were in the November issue of Poetry and her poems "Hermes of the Ways," "Orchard," and "Epigram", in the January 1913 issue. Imagism as a movement was launched with H.D. as its prime exponent.

The early models for the Imagist group were from Japan, and H.D. often visited the exclusive Print Room at the British Museum in the company of Richard Aldington and the curator and poet Laurence Binyon in order to examine Nishiki-e prints that incorporated traditional Japanese verse. However, she also derived her way of making poems from her reading of Classical Greek literature and especially of Sappho, an interest she shared with Aldington and Pound, each of whom produced versions of the Greek poet's work. In 1915, H.D. and Aldington launched the Poets' Translation Series, pamphlets of translations from Greek and Latin classics. H.D. worked on the plays by Euripides, publishing in 1916 a translation of choruses from Iphigeneia at Aulis, in 1919 a translation of choruses from Iphigeneia at Aulis and Hippolytus, an adaptation of Hippolytus called Hippolytus Temporizes (1927), a translation of choruses from The Bacchae and Hecuba (1931), and Euripides' Ion (1937) a loose translation of Ion.

She continued her association with the group until the final issue of the Some Imagist Poets anthology in 1917. She and Aldington did most of the editorial work on the 1915 anthology. Her work also appeared in Aldington's Imagist Anthology 1930. All of her poetry up to the end of the 1930s was written in an Imagist mode, utilising spare use of language, and a classical, austere purity. This style of writing was not without its critics. In a special Imagist issue of The Egoist magazine in May 1915, the poet and critic Harold Monro called H.D.'s early work "petty poetry", denoting "either poverty of imagination or needlessly excessive restraint".

Oread, one of her earliest and best-known poems, which was first published in the 1915 anthology, illustrates this early style:

Whirl up, sea—
Whirl your pointed pines.
Splash your great pines
On our rocks.
Hurl your green over us—
Cover us with your pools of fir.

World War I and after

Before World War I, H.D. married Aldington in 1913 however, their first and only child, a daughter, was stillborn in 1915. Aldington enlisted in the army. The couple became estranged and Aldington reportedly took a mistress in 1917. H.D.

became involved in a close but platonic relationship with D. H. Lawrence. In 1916, her first book, Sea Garden, was published and she was appointed assistant editor of The Egoist, replacing her husband. In 1918, her brother Gilbert was killed in action, and that March she moved into a cottage in Cornwall with the composer Cecil Gray, a friend of Lawrence's. She became pregnant with Gray's child, however, by the time she realised she was expecting, the relationship had cooled and Gray had returned to live in London. When Aldington returned from active service he was noticeably traumatised, and he and H.D. later separated.

Close to the end of the war, H.D. met the wealthy English novelist Bryher (Annie Winifred Ellerman). They lived together until 1946, and although both took numerous other partners, Bryher remained her lover for the rest of H.D.'s life. In 1919, H.D. came close to death when she gave birth to her daughter Frances Perdita Aldington—although the father was not Aldington, but Gray—while suffering from war influenza. During this time, her father, who had never recovered from Gilbert's death, died. In 1919, H.D. wrote one of her few known statements on poetics, Notes on Thought and Vision, which was unpublished until 1982. In this, she speaks of poets (herself included) as belonging to a kind of elite group of visionaries with the power to 'turn the whole tide of human thought'.

H.D. and Aldington attempted to salvage their relationship during this time, but he was suffering from the effects of his participation in the war, possibly post-traumatic stress disorder, and they became estranged, living completely separate lives, but not divorcing until 1938. They remained friends, however, for the rest of their lives. From 1920, her relationship with Bryher became closer and the pair travelled in Egypt, Greece and the United States before eventually settling in Switzerland. Bryher entered a marriage of convenience in 1921 with Robert McAlmon, which allowed him to fund his publishing ventures in Paris by utilising some of her personal wealth for his Contact Press.Both Bryher and H.D. slept with McAlmon during this time. Bryher and McAlmon divorced in 1927.

Novels, films and psychoanalysis

In the early 1920s, H.D. started to write three projected cycles of novels. The first of these, Magna Graeca, consists of Palimpsest (1921) and Hedylus (1928). The Magna Graeca novels use their classical settings to explore the poetic vocation, particularly as it applies to women in a patriarchal literary culture. The Madrigal cycle consists of HERmione, Bid Me to Live, Paint It Today and Asphodel, and is largely autobiographical, dealing with the development of the female artist and the conflict between heterosexual and lesbian desire. Kora and Ka and The Usual Star, two novellas from the Borderline cycle, were published in 1933. In this period, she also wrote Pilate's Wife, Mira-Mare, and Nights.

During this period her mother had died and Bryher had divorced her husband, only to marry H.D.'s new male lover, Kenneth Macpherson. H.D., Bryher, and Macpherson lived together and traveled through Europe as what the poet and critic Barbara Guest termed in her biography of H.D. as a 'menagerie of three'. Bryher and Macpherson adopted H.D.'s daughter, Perdita. In 1928, H.D. became pregnant but chose to abort the pregnancy in November. Bryher and Macpherson set up the magazine Close Up (to which H.D. regularly contributed) as a medium for intellectual discussion of cinema. In 1927, the small independent film cinema group POOL or Pool Group was established (largely funded with Bryher's inheritance) and was managed by all three. Only one POOL film survives in its entirety, Borderline (1930), which featured H.D. and Paul Robeson in the lead roles. In common with the Borderline novellas, the film explores extreme psychic states and their relationship to surface reality. As well as acting in this film, H.D. wrote an explanatory pamphlet to accompany it, a piece later published in Close Up.

In 1933, H.D. traveled to Vienna to undergo analysis with Sigmund Freud. She had an interest in Freud's theories as far back as 1909, when she read some of his works in the original German. H.D. was referred by Bryher's psychoanalyst due to her increasing paranoia about the rise of Adolf Hitler which indicated another world war, an idea that H.D. found intolerable. The Great War (World War I) had left her feeling shattered. She had lost her brother in action, while her husband suffered effects of combat experiences, and she believed that the onslaught of the war indirectly caused the death of her child with Aldington: she believed it was her shock at hearing the news about the RMS Lusitania that directly caused her miscarriage. Writing on the Wall, her memoir about this psychoanalysis, was written concurrently with Trilogy and published in 1944 in 1956 it was republished with Advent, a journal of the analysis, under the title Tribute to Freud.

World War II and after

H.D. and Bryher spent the duration of World War II in London. During this time, H.D. wrote The Gift, a memoir of her childhood and family life in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, which reflects on people and events in her background that helped shape her as a writer. The Gift was eventually published in 1960 and 1982. She also wrote Trilogy, published as The Walls do not Fall (1944), Tribute to the Angels (1945) and The Flowering of the Rod (1946). The opening lines of The Walls do not Fall clearly and immediately signal H.D.'s break with her earlier work:

An incident here and there,
and rails gone (for guns)
from your (and my) old town square.

After the war, H.D. and Bryher no longer lived together, but remained in contact. H.D. moved to Switzerland where, in the spring of 1946, she suffered a severe mental breakdown which resulted in her staying in a clinic until the autumn of that year. Apart from a number of trips to the States, H.D. spent the rest of her life in Switzerland. In the late 1950s, she underwent more treatment, this time with the psychoanalyst Erich Heydt. At Heydt's prompting, she wrote End to Torment, a memoir of her relationship with Pound, who allowed the poems of Hilda's Book to be included when the book was published. Doolittle was one of the leading figures in the bohemian culture of London in the early decades of the century. Her later poetry explores traditional epic themes, such as violence and war, from a feminist perspective. H.D. was the first woman to be granted the American Academy of Arts and Letters medal.

During the 1950s, H.D. wrote a considerable amount of poetry, most notably Helen in Egypt (written between 1952–54), an examination from a feminist point of view of a male-centred epic poetry. H.D. used Euripides's play Helen as a starting point for a reinterpretation of the basis of the Trojan War and, by extension, of war itself. This work has been seen by some critics, including Jeffrey Twitchell-Waas, as H.D.'s response to Pound's Cantos, a work she greatly admired. Other poems from this period include Sagesse, Winter Love and Hermetic Definition. These three were published posthumously with the collective title Hermetic Definition (1972). The poem Hermetic Definition takes as its starting points her love for a man 30 years her junior and the line 'so slow is the rose to open' from Pound's Canto 106. Sagesse, written in bed after H.D. had broken her hip in a fall, serves as a kind of coda to Trilogy, being partly written in the voice of a young female Blitz survivor who finds herself living in fear of the atom bomb. Winter Love was written together with End to Torment and uses as narrator the Homeric figure of Penelope to restate the material of the memoir in poetic form. At one time, H.D. considered appending this poem as a coda to Helen in Egypt.

H.D. visited the United States in 1960 to collect an American Academy of Arts and Letters medal. Returning to Switzerland, she suffered a stroke in July 1961 and died a couple of months later in the Klinik Hirslanden in Zürich. Her ashes were returned to Bethlehem, and were buried in the family plot in the Nisky Hill Cemetery on October 28, 1961. Her epitaph consists of the following lines from her early poem "Let Zeus Record":

So you may say,
Greek flower Greek ecstasy
reclaims forever
one who died
following intricate song's
lost measure.


Watch the video: 061 Apathy - Richard Aldington (May 2022).