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About the book
  • Published: 15 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9781845951801
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $29.99

Strange Meetings

The Poets of the Great War

An unusual and moving account of the lives and work of the poets of the Great War, 1914-1918.

Strange Meetings provides a highly original account of the War Poets of 1914-1918, written through a series of actual encounters, or near-encounters, from Siegfried Sassoon’s first, blushing meeting with Rupert Brooke over kidneys and bacon at Eddie Marsh’s breakfasts before the war, through famous moments like Sassoon’s encouragement of Owen when both are in hospital at the same time; on to the poignant meeting between Edward Thomas’s widow and Ivor Gurney in 1932; and the last, strange lunch and ‘longish talk’ of Sassoon and David Jones in 1964, half a century after the great war began.

Among the other poets and writers we encounter are Vera Brittain, Roland Leighton, Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg, Robert Nichols and Edmund Blunden. Ricketts’s unusual approach allows him to follow their relationships, marking their responses to each other‘s work and showing how these affected their own poetry – one potent strand, for example, is the profound influence of Brooke, both as a model to follow and a burden to reject. The stories become intensely personal and vivid – we come to know each of the poets, their family and intellectual backgrounds and their very different personalities. And while the accounts of individual lives achieve the imaginative vividness of a novel, they also give us an entirely fresh sense of Georgian poetry, conveying all the excitement and frustration of poetic creation, and demonstrating how the whole notion of what poetry should be ‘about’ became fractured and changed for ever by the terrible experiences of the war.

  • Pub date: 15 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9781845951801
  • Imprint: Pimlico
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $29.99

About the Author

Harry Ricketts

Harry Ricketts is a poet, writer and critic. After studying English at Oxford he lectured in Hong Kong and Leicester and now teaches literature and creative writing at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In addition to his collections of poetry, essays - and brilliant studies of cricket - his critical books include the acclaimed biography The Unforgiving Minute: A Life of Rudyard Kipling.

Also by Harry Ricketts

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Praise for Strange Meetings

“Constantly engaging, amiable account of one of the golden periods of English poetry”

Literary Review

“This fascinating book gives a realistic and very human account of the lives and works of these great poets”

Financial Times

“A haunting, almost cinematic group biography”

David Kynaston, Guardian

“An unusual book which merits the attentions of anyone who cares about poetry”

Robert Nye, Tablet

“Beautifully written and elegant”

Daily Express

“Poignant and fascinating”

William Leith, Evening Standard



“Harry Ricketts’s brilliant dissection of the complex web of relationships that linked the war poets”

Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday

“Poignant and fascinating”

William Leith, Scotsman

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