Richard Aldington

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(The Richard Aldington Newsletter)


Vol. 41, No. 4                  Winter 2013

Editor: Andrew Frayn, English and American Studies, Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester,
Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL. 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, Caroline Zilboorg.
Bibliographer: Shelley Cox. Biographers: Charles Doyle, Vivien Whelpton.

Biographer Vivien Whelpton’s new biography, Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier, Lover 1911–29 is now available from the Lutterworth Press (CTRL+click links).  Sample chapters are available on the publisher’s website.  The book promises to be a major contribution to rethinking Aldington’s life and work sympathetically.  Twenty-five years after the last biography, Aldington’s position in the ever-expanding modernist networks is riper than ever for reconsideration.


Whelpton invites readers of the NCLSN to write to the editors with their responses to the volume; she hopes that it might provoke some debate for these pages.  You can also contact her directly via her website,




Ever a man of the moment, Richard Aldington now has a presence on social media. 


The International Richard Aldington Society / Imagist Conference now has a Facebook page, which you should follow for updates on this summer’s meeting in Venice and, presumably, future activities of the society.


Some Aldingtonians have set up a Twitter account for Richard Aldington: you can follow him @AldingtonR.  He tweets about his writings, those who write about him and fellow early twentieth-century authors, along with other observations and trouvailles.




In these Internet / Kindle days Correspondent David Wilkinson has been mulling over the following extract from page 241 of the 1968, Cassell edition of Aldington's autobiography, Life For Life's Sake. The passage was first published in 1941.


In Perfect State, which, perhaps fortunately, we shall never see, the literature of the world will not be scattered about in bulky and costly editions or ignominious hacked-off impressions. Everything non-copyright and worth reading will be contained in a kind of Opera Omnia in volumes of about a thousand pages of India paper, costing no more than a new novel, like the Nonesuch poets in England and the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade in France. You will then be able to house all the literature of the world in a small apartment. All these people who don't buy books because they've nowhere to put them will be instantly defeated, and culture will reign from China to Peru.


- - - - and a happy new year to all Aldington's readers.




The Editor notes that there are a couple of references to Richard Aldington in Jonathan Wild’s The Rise of the Office Clerk in Literary Culture, 1880-1939 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).  Wild looks beyond the usual Aldingtonian texts to talk about A Fool i’ th’ Forest and ‘The Case of Lieutenant Hall’.




Given the expurgation of Death of a Hero and its consequent notoriety, the Editor was surprised to note that RA is not mentioned at all in Rachel Potter’s new volume, Obscene Modernism: Literary Censorship and Experiment, 1900-1940 (Oxford University Press, 2013).




Carl Rollyson’s A Higher Form of Cannibalism: Adventures in the Art and Politics of Biography (Ivan R. Dee, 2005) includes a chapter on RA’s biography of T. E. Lawrence.  Rollyson has also written extensively about other modernists and imagists such as Rebecca West and Amy Lowell.




Caroline Zilboorg pointed the Editor towards articles about the controversy which is already being provoked in the UK as the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War approaches.  The trenchant comments of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, precipitated a strong response from Richard Evans, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge in this piece for the Guardian, and many more historians who took issue with the narrow view of the war and its causes put forth by Gove.  There was a similar response from those wedded to a notion of the First World War focused on futility and pity, which narrative recent histories such as Gary Sheffield’s Forgotten Victory: The First World War: Myths and Realities (Headline Review, 2002) and Dan Todman’s The Great War: Myth and Memory (Continuum, 2005) problematise.  The fighting for ownership of historical narratives promises to continue, as this piece by Daniel Boffey of the Observer suggests.


A very good contribution to this debate which, one hopes, will set the tone, is the new BBC series Britain’s Great War, presented by Jeremy Paxman.  Whilst there were some errors and incongruous moments, the first programme showed a commendable commitment to a pluralistic version of history, highlighting the varieties of experience on the home front and challenging some long-established but questionable myths about the war.




NCLS Member Gemma Bristow has recently made available online a conference paper she gave in 2008 on Aldington’s The Love Poems of Myrrhine and Konallis, which sees the volume as ‘a reworking of material from the existing canons of Hellenic and pseudo-Hellenic, particularly Sapphic, literature’ and also ‘a masked response to the Great War: a fantasy of an Arcadian otherworld in which relationships and gender did not have to fulfil social utility’. You can read the full paper at Gemma’s website:



The Editor, Andrew Frayn, has a literary-critical monograph forthcoming in 2014.  Entitled Writing Disenchantment: British First World War Prose, 1914-1930 (Manchester University Press), the book examines the idea that fiction about the war was ‘disenchanted’, or ‘disillusioned’.  This concept is interrogated in terms of early twentieth-century theories of decline, decay and degeneration, and a variety of popular, middlebrow and literary texts are analysed.  Aldington features strongly in the final chapter on the War Books Boom of 1928-1930, particularly Death of a Hero; of Aldington’s literary network, also discussed at some length are Ford Madox Ford, D. H. Lawrence, Frederic Manning.


Further details can be found in the Manchester University Press catalogue for 2014 (see p. 29).




Correspondent Caroline Zilboorg notes a review of her University Press of Florida edition of H. D.’s Bid Me to Live which, of course, is a thinly-fictionalised account of wartime events in London and Cornwall with RA. 


In the Modern Language Review (vol. 109, no. 1 (January 2014), 243-5) Alice Kelly states that ‘Bid Me to Live demonstrates an avant-garde mode of writing about the Great War, depicting the experience of non-combatants. Zilboorg’s excellent critical edition will help to introduce this fascinating, much underrated modernist text to a new readership.’  Kelly compliments Zilboorg’s work as a ‘much-needed and very well-executed new edition of this important text’. 




David Wilkinson reports that a number of RA's novels can be accessed and their contents searched for particular quotations via Google Books.  The one exception is Death of a Hero. This causes Wilkinson to ponder the fuss that is made over copyright infringements.


The Editor adds that many of RA’s early works are available via the Internet Archive.  Works prior to 1922 are in the public domain in the US, so RA’s first collections of poetry, including limited editions such as the Images of War for Beaumont, with illustrations by Paul Nash, are easily accessible.  A search for Aldington’s name also brings up less-well-known volumes to which he contributed, such as Some Soldier Poets (1920), edited by T. Sturge Moore. 

You can also access much of Aldington’s periodical work via invaluable resources such as the Modernist Journals Project website, hosted by Brown University.  There are runs of The New Age, in which Aldington’s ‘Letters from Italy’ feature in 1913, The Freewoman, The New Freewoman, and The Egoist, to which Aldington was a key contributor, Poetry, and many other interesting volumes such as Wyndham Lewis’s Blast and The Tyro.




NCLSN Member Robert Richardson has work in the exhibition ‘The Postcard is a Public Work of Art’, which runs at X Marks the Bökship, Unit 3, 210 Cambridge Heath Road, London.  The official announcement posits that the ‘purpose of an artist's a postcard is to express an idea, aesthetic and intellectual, specifically and exclusively in the form of a postcard, that could be actually postable, even when made of wood, or bone, or steel. The exhibits are not merely postcard-sized paintings, but instead they engage individually with the form and purpose of the postcard.’  The exhibition runs from 23 January to 1 March 2014.




Two books on Imagism have recently been published. The first, entitled, Imagism: Essays on Its Initiation, Impact and Influence, was published by the University of New Orleans Press as the fifth entry in the Ezra Pound Center for Literature Book Series. John Gery, Daniel Kempton, and H.R. Stoneback edited the volume and the description of the book offered in the official press release follows:


This collection of new essays explores the well-known yet rarely investigated movement of Imagist poets and poetics. Launched in the British Museum tearoom by Ezra Pound with H.D. and Richard Aldington in April 1912, Imagism was rooted in earlier movements, yet its influence has reached across the literary world. Framed by an Introduction on Imagism’s embattled cultural heritage and an Afterword recording its echoes as far off as China, this book offers a blueprint of the historical, theoretical, and literary prevalence of Imagism from its inception until now. 

The volume features an introduction by the distinguished scholar of Imagism Helen Carr, and twelve essays on Pound’s early years, his impact and influence.  There are essays by Associate Editor Justin Kishbaugh, editor of Aldington’s letters Ian S. MacNiven, and NCLS member and Ford Madox Ford scholar Max Saunders, among many other contributors who will be familiar to attendees of Aldington conferences and readers of previous proceedings.


Also recently released is Florida English’s special issue, Ghosts in Background Moving: Aldington and Imagism. Edited by Daniel Kempton, Matthew Nickel, and H. R. Stoneback, this handsome volume collects the proceedings of the III International Imagism/VII International Richard Aldington Conference. Focusing, as the title suggests, on Aldington and his Imagist work, the book begins with “Ghosts in the Background Moving: Introduction” by H.R. Stoneback.  It includes essays by Valerie Hemingway and scholars such as Anderson Araujo, Jeff Grieneisen, Christos Hadjiyannis, Daniel Kempton, Matthew Nickel.


Along with contacting the Aldington/Imagism conference organizers, one can also purchase copies of this book by contacting Jeff Grieneisen or Courtney Ruffner Grieneisen at or, respectively.