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early science fiction will be less likely to overlook some of the authors Stableford has included. This might be one real value in what is otherwise, for me, a very disappointing book. William J. Scheick University of Texas, Austin 10. SORLEY'S LIFE AND POETRY Jean Moorcroft Wilson. Charles Hamilton Sorley: A Biography. London: Cecil Woolf, 1985. £12.50 The Collected Poems of Charles Hamilton Sorley, ed. Jean Moorcroft Wilson. London: Cecil Woolf, 1985. £9.95 On 13 October 1915, during the battle of Loos, Charles Hamilton Sorley was killed by a sniper's bullet. He was twenty years old. What he left us is a small but impressive collection of poetry and a bundle of letters which reveal a remarkable wit and prescience. Among his contemporaries, the late Robert Graves once ranked him alongside Wilfred Owen and Isaac Rosenberg as one of the three greatest losses to English poetry in the war. Sorley's poetry, collected by his father, W. R. Sorley, was titled Marlborough and Other Poems; it went through several editions, the last published by the Cambridjge University Press in 1932. In 1916, the family privately issued Letters from Germany, a collection they made from letters Sorley had written during a seven-month visit to Germany to improve his German and to study at the University of Jena. In 1919, Cambndge University Press published The Letters of Charles Sorley, with a Chapter of Biography, a volume put together by the Sorley family. Over the years Sorley's place among the "war poets" has remained secure. During the past twenty-five years, in fact, his work has received considerable attention for a minor literary figure. For instance, John H. Johnston treated him in his English Poetry of the First World War (1964), Bernard Bergonzi dealt with his work in Heroes' Twilight (1965), and Thomas B. Swann published the first book-length biography, The Ungirt Runner (1965). In 1972 Jon Silkin included him in Out of Battle, and in 1973 my own "Charles Hamilton Sorley: An Annotated Checklist" appeared. In 1978 Hilda D. Spear edited The Poems and Selected Letters of Charles Sorley, the first collection of his poetry since the 1932 edition and the first selection of his letters since 1919. In November 1985, Sorley's name was included on a plaque hung in poet's comer in Westminster Abbey to commemorate British poets of the Great War. Now we have Jean Wilson's contribution to our understanding of Sorley's life and poetic achievement. Charles Sorley was- of lowland Scottish descent, one of a set of twins bom in Aberdeen to Professor and Mrs. William Ritchie Sorley on 19 May 1895. The family was academically distinguished. At the height or his career, for example, Professor Sorley, a moral philosopher, was Knightsbridge Professor at King's College, Cambridge. Charles attended King's College Choir 451 School and eventually Marlborough College. He left Marlborough in 1913 for Schwerin and, eventually, the University of Jena. When the war broke out in August, he and an English friend were on a walking tour in Germany and, after turning themselves in to the police, spent a few hours in a German jail. Upon returning to Britain, Sorley was appalled by English anti-German feeling and enthusiasm for the war. But he enlisted anyway. On 10 May 1915, he arrived in France. On 13 October he was killed. Based on interviews with members of the Sorley family, including Sorley's sister, the late Jean Bickersteth, and on materials kept by them and by the archives of Marlborough College, Jean Wilson's biography provides more than the facts of Sorley's life. It must, for as D. J. Enright has said, since he died at twenty Sorley can hardly be said to have had a life. Wilson provides what is needed for understanding Sorley: a feeling for high spirits and youthful rebellion in a British public school during the first decade and a half of the twentieth century. One of the strengths, especially for American audiences, of Wilson's biography is its evocation of public school life and the shaping influence of Marlborough College. She is also good at clarifying Sorley's ambivalence toward...


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pp. 451-453
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