Richard Aldington

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(The Richard Aldington Newsletter)


Vol. 43. nos. 2-3                  Summer & Autumn 2015

Editor: Andrew Frayn, Department of English and Acting, School of Arts and Creative Industries, Edinburgh Napier University, Merchiston, Edinburgh. EH10 5DT. UK. E-mail:

Associate Editor: Justin Kishbaugh, Department of English, Duquesne University, 600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282  USA

RA and H.D. Website:
Correspondent and website editor: Paul Hernandez
Correspondents: Michael Copp, Simon Hewett, Stephen Steele, F.-J. Temple, David Wilkinson, Caroline Zilboorg.
Bibliographer: Shelley Cox. Biographers: Charles Doyle, Vivien Whelpton.

I want to consult with the readership about the future of the Newsletter in its current form.  Before any alarm is caused, please let me reassure you that Aldington news will continue with this name!  However, the time required to collect material for the newsletter – and, indeed, collecting enough material to make a worthwhile newsletter – is proving increasingly difficult.

            My proposal, therefore, is to shift the primary means of making this research available to a blog.  This, I think, will facilitate the regular publication of information, which will be helpful to the editors.  I believe it will also, more importantly, be good for Aldington Studies in general: that regular publication should help to build a profile.  That material might then be collected into a yearly or twice-yearly newsletter, for those who would still prefer to receive the material in that form.  This would enable the excellent repository provided by Paul Hernandez to continue, for which I know that I am grateful on a regular basis.

            This is a departure from a long-standing format, of course.  I would be grateful to hear any of your opinions about the proposed change.  But I believe that this is a good way to bring the format of the newsletter up to the date, and to stimulate some more exposure for Aldington with more regular updates.




In August 2014, Member Adrian Barlow published his 100th post to his blog, four years to the day since the first, ‘In Gloucestershire’.  He writes:  Counting to a hundred: ‘Let it Go!’ is a reflection on the rewards of blogging. It’s an art I have been learning for the past six years, for this is also the anniversary of my first post to  World and Time, the blog I wrote at Madingley Hall, Cambridge, between 2009-2011.

            Today’s post, I have decided, will be my last post – hence my title’s nod towards the film Frozen.  A blogger, like any other guest – particularly a self-invited one – should not outstay his welcome. I hope, though, that we’ll keep in contact, if you would like to. I shall keep my blog online and in the next few days will publish an index and inventory for anybody who may ever want to look up a past post. For those interested in stained glass I shall also continue writing for the Kempe Trust blog from time to time.

            A year or two ago, the novelist Joe Treasure discussed  on his blog the things that made him uneasy about blogging. I recommend this piece for, much as I have really enjoyed blogging, some of Joe’s reservations coincide with my own.  He ends, however, with a list of five bad things that a blog does not do; and in my defence as a persistent blogger, I think these are worth restating.




While re-reading Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle(1931), Correspondent Michael Copp came across this oblique reference to RA's  A Fool i' the Forest : ‘And as for "The Waste Land," it enchanted and devastated a whole generation. Attempts have been made to reproduce it – by Aldington, Nancy Cunard, etc. – at least a dozen times.’


Correspondent David Wilkinson notes that one or two of Arabella's illustrations for class=apple-converted-space> The Art of Lydia Lopokova can be found on line by Google image search with the terms ‘Lopokova’ and ‘Beaumont’.



Correspondent David Wilkinson, until recently our associate editor,  has three books in the pipeline. The first, Arthur Greening: That Damned Elusive Publisher (Rivendale Press, 2016) is published this month. It is a biography of the late-Victorian / Edwardian publisher Arthur Greening (1865-1938) who, as the title implies, published Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel. Greening began publishing as Lawrence Greening & Co. in 1897 and was brought down following a foolish court case over a personal dispute between one of his partners and T. W. H. Crosland, the litigious partner of Lord Alfred Douglas and their Academy magazine.

            Of greater personal significance, Wilkinson's second book describes his six-year quest to detail RA’s time in Berkshire.  It is currently in prepartion with Pen and Sword books and due for publication in July or August 2016. It is being timed to coincide with the International D. H. Lawrence Conference at Tregenna Castle Hotel in St Ives next September, barely a mile from Wilkinson's current address.

            Although seemingly disconnected, Wilkinson’s books follow a sequence set in motion by our late editor. The Curious Reader began as notes for Professor Norman T. Gates, following his first visit to Padworth in June 1978. Wilkinson's first book was a biography of Cyril Ranger Gull, a name he first encountered in Aldington's Life For Life's Sake. 'Guy Thorne': C. Ranger Gull: Edwardian Tabloid Novelist and his Unseemly Brotherhood was published by Steven Halliwell’s Rivendale Press in 2012. Wilkinson was talking to Halliwell about Gull’s publisher, Arthur Greening. ‘Now there's a man I would be interested in’ Halliwell declared; hence the forthcoming title. Aldington's friendship with Henri Gaudier-Brzeska has led Wilkinson to write Henri Gaudier-Brzeska: Sculptor: The London Years 1911-1914, which has been accepted for publication by the Lutterworth Press, who also published the first volume of Vivien Whelpton’s RA biography.




Correspondent Caroline Zilboorg is pleased to report that her edition of H.D.’s Bid Me to Live (University Press of Florida, 2011) is now available in paperback.  The paperback is priced at a very reasonable $19.99 (currently £13.75).  This makes the text accessible to a more general market, and offers the possibility of using this, the definitive edition, as a teaching text.


Book Review


Edmund Blunden, Undertones of War, ed. by John Greening

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015)


It is intriguing to find the gentle Georgian pastoralist, Edmund Blunden, reacting positively to the combative, scathing enemy of cant, Richard Aldington. Soon after the appearance of Death of a Hero, Blunden wrote to Siegfried Sassoon (22 September 1929): ‘R. Aldington’s war book is excellent fury, and his bombardments &c are real.’ In a later letter to Sassoon (12 December 1937) he wrote in approving terms about Very Heaven: ‘R. Aldington has a smack at bogus artists and intellectuals in a new novel which amuses me a great deal. He has been watching the creatures with some care.’ Blunden, then, admired not only Aldington’s potent and authentic depiction of war but also his forceful and satirical debunking of hypocrisy. [Blunden reviewed Death of a Hero favourably for the Times Literary Supplement, as Aldington and Charles Prentice were corresponding lamenting that prospect.—Ed.]

            Undertones of War stands out among the crop of memoirs published in the years around 1928 as an unusual juxtaposition of prose chronicle and accompanying poems. It rapidly became an established classic, as Sassoon was among the first to realise. In a letter to Blunden (5 May 1929) he declared: ‘It cannot not be a classic.’

            Greening’s book is almost certainly the most comprehensive treatment that Undertones has received. Apart, obviously, from the prose memoir and the accompanying supplement of poems, Greening opts to give us a further supplement of thirty-two more of Blunden’s war poems. He justifies this decision as follows:


‘They offer another line of counterpoint to the narrative of Undertones. My choices would not have been Blunden’s, but I do not think that he necessarily went for the best poems so much as the most suitable: he seems to have seen the selection appended to Undertones as a commemoration, even if that meant the inclusion of his more hyperbolical elegies.’


            There are extensive and detailed Notes on the prose text, and on the ‘Supplement of Poetical Interpretations and Variations’. The Notes to the memoir include a judicious selection of extracts from three key Blunden texts which Greening rightly considers as relevant and helpful adjuncts. The texts he draws on are: A Battalion History, De Bello Germanico, and his 1917 Diary.

            An interesting innovation is the insertion of the titles of what Greening considers to be related poems at the beginning of each chapter. For instance, one of the three poems listed for Chapter XX, ‘Like Samson in his Wrath’ is ‘Vlamertinghe: Passing the Château, July, 1917’. The relevant extract in this chapter, mentioning the extraordinary and unexpected colourful floral display, is countered by the poem, which after a rhapsodic reaction to this splendour, ends with the down-to-earth vernacular of:

‘But if you ask me, mate, the choice of colour

                        Is scarcely right; this red should have been duller.’

Greening acknowledges the original work first carried out in this respect by Martin Chown (the husband of Margi, one of Blunden’s daughters) in his privately published A Companion Guide to Edmund Blunden’s Undertones of War.

            Greening cites Blunden’s ‘Into the Salient’ as atypical, given that it approaches the Imagist treatment:

‘Blunden employs free verse here to suggest the fragmented town and does so to powerful effect (somewhat in the manner of the war poet Richard Aldington).’

            One aspect of Undertones that is neglected by Greening is Blunden’s treatment of guidebooks and maps as trustworthy interpreters of topography. The poem, ‘The Prophet’ is a key text in this respect, as Blunden ironically juxtaposes the old guidebook’s out of date descriptions alongside the present reality. Regarding the fallibility and untrustworthiness of war maps and the obstacles to the process of anything like accurate and useful mapping, in Chapter XI ‘Very Secret’, Blunden writes:

‘The situation southward in the wide battlefield “remained obscure.” One afternoon, when some tremendous attempt was being made to clear it up, smiling Geoffrey Salter and myself sat on the chalk-heaps in the most easterly sap of our incomprehensible line – was it Pêche Street, or Louvercy? – with orders to record what could be seen of the battle. A moorland overwhelmed in a volume of tawny and blue smoke, thunderously murmuring, in which innumerable little lights in ones, twos, threes, white, green, red, purple, were thrown up like coloured waterdrops, was not easy to tabulate. Salter’s pencil travelled at speed, but in vain. The battle died away into ordinary bad temper. The situation remained obscure.’

In his Select Bibliography Greening fails to list Mark D. Larabee’s Front Lines of Modernism: Remapping the Great War in British Fiction. Awareness of and reference to Larabee’s analysis of this problematic area would have added a further and valuable aspect to his discussion. Apart from this omission Greening has tackled Undertones and its related texts with great thoroughness, and his book re-establishes beyond doubt the position of Blunden as a major war writer and Undertones of War as a major war book.


Michael Copp



Member Gemma Bristow found an RA reference in an unlikely place: Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer Kloester (London: Heinemann, 2011), pp. 263-5. According to Kloester, Georgette Heyer was the uncredited picture editor for the British publication of RA’s Wellington biography.

            RA and Heyer were both friends and clients of A.S. Frere at Heinemann. When, in 1945, Frere was planning to bring out the Wellington biography (already published in the U.S.A.), he asked Heyer to read the book and suggest illustrations. Heyer had written two novels featuring Wellington and was known for her meticulous research. She made a list of possible illustrations, proposed a design for the cover and also suggested some revisions to the text. Aldington rejected the revisions (which Frere diplomatically concealed from Heyer), but agreed to her suggestions for the illustrations and cover. These duly appeared in the first British publication of  Wellington (1946).




The Eliot-Aldington Letters (Part V)

Volume 5 of The Letters of T.S. Eliot covers the years 1930 and 1931. In these two years there is only one letter from TSE to RA (13 May 1930). In it TSE expresses his anxiety that he and RA are moving apart: “It is very long since I heard from you or you from me; but we were friends when we last communicated; and I hope that your feelings towards me have not changed since then; as certainly my feelings towards you are always those of affection and gratitude.” He then discusses the question of what to do about the Poets’ Translation Series, and concludes, “I am afraid it is hopeless to revive the Poets’ Translation Series at present”. The moving apart develops into a serious rift, as the following exchange of views between Geoffrey Faber (of Faber & Faber) and Harold Raymond (of Chatto & Windus) reveals.

            Before considering those letters it is worth mentioning a letter from TSE to F.S. Flint (4 May1931) with this P.S. “From what you say about Richard’s novel, don’t you think that it would be only decent for the Criterion to ignore it completely?” The footnote on p.560 identifies the ‘novel’ as At All Costs. This is clearly wrong. At All Costs is a short war story, not a novel, and is not about “recognizable people in the village”, nor is there a “semi-seduction”. The controversial ‘novel’ referred to must be Stepping Heavenward, the subject of the following letters.

           In a letter (11 November 1931) from Faber to Raymond, the former describes RA’s Stepping Heavenward as “a bitter and malevolent attack on Eliot [which] will, of course be immediately obvious to everybody with any knowledge of contemporary letters. . . . Aldington permits himself – and you permit him – to air in public his own opinions on the relationship between Eliot and his wife. . . . It is an unpardonable interference with the lives of two people.”

            In his reply to Faber (20 November 1931), Raymond writes: “I am sorry that you regard it as so bitter an attack. I fear that I personally am not in a position to gauge its bitterness, as I do not know Aldington well enough, and Eliot not at all. But with regard to the passages which you mention as particularly distressing, I can hardly think that Aldington intended them to apply in the manner you suggest. . . . I feel that the issue really lies between Aldington and Eliot, and not between you and me.”

            Faber to Raymond (23 November 1931: “Aldington is, or was, a friend of Eliot’s and knows those circumstances as well as anybody; it is simply not conceivable that he was not intentionally using them to edge his satire. . . . So perhaps there was some justification for my suggesting that the publishers might have had something to say. Don’t you sometimes warn an author that he’s on dangerous ground?”

            Raymond to Faber (3 December 1931): “We must agree to differ on the question what is a publisher’s job, and what isn’t. We still do not feel it is our problem; we still feel that the issue lies between Aldington and Eliot.”

            Faber to Raymond (4 December 1931): “I could do no more than point out to you, as Aldington’s publisher, that his story contains at least one passage which I and others think to be not only a libel, but a peculiarly unpleasant libel. To which you reply, in effect, that it’s no business of yours – a view of a publisher’s responsibilities from which I, most respectfully, dissent. And there, so far as I am concerned, the matter ends.”

Michael Copp





June 30 – July 2, 2016, The Franklin Inn Club, Philadelphia

And the Franklin Inn club...

    and young fellows go out to the colonies

but go on paying their dues

Ezra Pound, Canto LXXX

“Making Pacts: Before & After Imagism”

I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman—

I have detested you long enough.

Ezra Pound, “A Pact”

Thursday 30 June @ 5 PM

Opening Reception at the Franklin Inn Club        Poetry Reading, Cocktails and Dinner

Keynote Address: Emily Mitchell Wallace, “Imagists in Philadelphia: H.D., Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams”


Friday 1 July

9am-5pm   Academic sessions at the Franklin Inn Club

5.30pm      Cocktails & Dinner (with speakers)


Saturday 2 July

Field trips to Walt Whitman House and/or Ezra Pound House & Presentation of Historical Marker


Conference Co-Directors: Matthew Nickel & H. R. Stoneback


Suggested topics: The Imagists in Philadelphia (EP, H.D., WCW), Imagist “Pacts” with Whitman, Aldington & H.D. (or Pound, Williams, Whitman), H. D. & Pound (or Aldington, Williams, Whitman), Pound & any of the above topics. Treatments of any other writer considered under the rubric of Imagism (e.g., Ernest Hemingway, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Lawrence Durrell, et al).

150-word abstracts to be sent to Matthew Nickel ( and H. R. Stoneback ( by 30 January 2016.

The "don't-miss once-in-a-lifetime" conference held in an extraordinary venue, the legendary Franklin Inn Club in the heart of Old Philadelphia. Send abstracts and register early—the capacity at the Franklin Inn Club is limited and registration will be closed when the maximum number is reached.