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MS 755

Reference code

MS 755


Siegfried Sassoon collection



Administrative / Biographical history

Sassoon, Siegfried (1886-1967)

Sassoon, Siegfried Loraine (1886–1967), poet and writer, was born on 8 September 1886 in Kent. He was the second of the three sons of Alfred Ezra Sassoon, sculptor, and Georgiana Theresa, the daughter of two sculptors. His father left the family when Sassoon was seven and died soon after.

Sassoon received his education at Marlborough College and went up to Clare College, Cambridge. While in Cambridge he began a romantic relationship with David Thomas; the two lived together briefly. Thomas would die on the Western Front in 1916.

Sassoon left Cambridge without a degree and returned to a life of country pursuits, during which time he began to write poems. Some of these he printed privately as pamphlets. At the outbreak of war Sassoon enlisted in the Sussex yeomanry and was posted to France in the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1915. Earning the nickname “Mad Jack”, he was awarded the Military Cross and recommended for (though not awarded) the Victoria Cross.

Convalescing after an injury in 1917, Sassoon composed an impassioned statement in opposition to the war and arranged for it to be read in the House of Commons. Rather than a court-martial, he received a diagnosis of shell-shock. He was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland. It was here that he met Wilfred Owen and encouraged the young poet. In 1918 he returned to his battalion in France, and was wounded in the head. He continued to write war poems; The Old Huntsman was published in 1917 and followed by Counter Attack in 1918. Several volumes of poetry followed in the 1920s, while Sassoon lived in London. He continued to keep diaries, which he used in the preparation of Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (1928, published anonymously), which was followed by Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) and Sherston's Progress (1937).

In 1933 Sassoon married Hester Gatty (1906–1973), and they removed to Wiltshire, where Sassoon spent the rest of his life. Their son was born in 1936, and the couple separated in 1944. In Wiltshire Sassoon began work on his autobiography, published between 1938 and 1945.

In 1957 Sassoon joined the Catholic church. His final anthology of poetry, The Path to Peace (1960), was printed by the nuns of Stanbrook Abbey.

Sassoon died at home on 1st September 1967.

References: Rupert Hart-Davis, ‘Sassoon, Siegfried Loraine (1886–1967)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2009 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35953, accessed 19 May 2015]



Extent & medium

1 box, 1 folder, 1 volume, 1 notebook and 1 oversize photograph

Content description

The Siegfried Sassoon collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, a sketchbook and some printed material. The manuscripts contain two autograph manuscripts by Sassoon and other, related, manuscripts by others. The correspondence consists of autograph letters from Sassoon, letters to Sassoon and letters to Sassoon's relatives. This autograph material is complemented by original photographs of Sassoon, a sketchbook that belonged to Sassoon's wife and related printed material.


Provenance information, when known, is specified at file and item level.
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