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Writing, Healing and the First World War

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Lady Violet Room

National Liberal Club

Whitehall Place

London

SW1A 2HE

United Kingdom

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Authors’ Club member Ford Madox Ford was 41 and had just published his celebrated novel The Good Soldier when he volunteered for active service in 1915. Concussed and gassed on the Western Front, he would eventually draw on his experiences of war in his tetralogy Parade’s End.

We are pleased to welcome three distinguished panellists to reflect on how writers, from England to India, responded to that conflict, and the role of literature in the healing process during and after conflict.

Ford specialist Sara Haslam will explore his literary response to the war and the social changes it brought about, and draw on her researches into the way that women (including suffragettes) dispensed literary caregiving to wounded soldiers through projects such as Helen Mary Gaskell’s War Library and the library at Endell Street Military Hospital in London.

Ford Madox Ford’s friend and collaborator Richard Aldington was one of the Imagist poets and founders of Modernism who revitalised pre-war London. His biographer Vivien Whelpton will explore the ways in which he struggled to find beauty in the ugliness of war and its aftermath, and went on to write the most powerful – and successful – British novel to come out of the Great War, Death of a Hero.

Sunny Singh will talk about Chandradhar Sharma Guleri’s landmark story, The Troth (Usne Kaha Tha), first published in 1915. Often considered an early example of the modern form in Hindi, it continues to serve as touchstone not only for the short story in India but for all writing about war. It was made into a film by Bimal Roy in 1960, and a dance-theatre version has just finished touring UK as part of the British Council-backed Reimagine India project.

Sara Haslam is the co-founder and Chair of the Ford Madox Ford Society, and Senior Lecturer in English at the Open University. She has published widely on Ford and war literature, and is currently co-editing the Routledge Research Companion to Ford Madox Ford, and editing Evelyn Waugh’s historical novel Helena for the Oxford University Press’s Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh.

Vivien Whelpton has an MA in War Studies from King’s College London and is an accredited member of the Guild of Battlefield Guides. Her biography Richard Aldington, Poet, Soldier and Lover was shortlisted for the Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian Prize in 2011 and published by Lutterworth Press in January 2014.

Sunny Singh is a Senior Lecturer Creative Writing and English Literature at London Metropolitan University. She has published three novels, a non-fiction book on lives of single women in India, and numerous short stories and essays. Her latest book is a biography of the Indian film star Amitabh Bachchan (BFI/Palgrave Macmillan).

The discussion will be introduced by Chris Schüler, former chair of the Authors’ Club and author of Writers, Lovers, Soldiers, Spies: A History of the Authors’ Club of London, 1891–2016.

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Lady Violet Room

National Liberal Club

Whitehall Place

London

SW1A 2HE

United Kingdom

View Map

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Refunds up to 1 day before event

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