Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Graves, Robert (von Ranke)

(414 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Graves, Robert (von Ranke) (July 26, 1895, Wimbledon [now part of London] – December 7, 1985, Deyá [Majorca]), British writer and literary scholar. Graves’ prewar work is customarily assigned to the so-called Georgian school, a group of poets that cultivated a Late Romantic style. Both he and his friend the writer Siegfried Sassoon, who, like him, served as an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, were profoundly influenced by the war. Graves was wounded in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, his many …

Grey, Sir Edward

(405 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Grey, Sir Edward (April 25, 1862, Fallodon, County of Northumberland – September 7, 1933, Fallodon; from 1916 First Viscount Grey of Fallodon), British politician. Grey was foreign secretary from 1905 to 1916, and chief architect of Britain’s foreign policy before the war. After studying at Balliol College, Oxford, he was elected to the House of Commons in 1885 as Liberal member of parliament for the constituency of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Grey retained this seat for his entire political career. As par…

Sitwell, Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell

(339 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Sitwell, Sir Francis Osbert Sacheverell (December 6, 1892, London – May 4, 1969, Florence), British writer. Sitwell enlisted with the First Battalion of the Grenadier Guards in December 1914. His experience of trench warfare between 1914 and 1917 awakened in him a profound awareness of the pointlessness of the slaughter, an awareness he sought to articulate in his early poems. Sitwell and his sister Edith, who was also active as a poet and writer, influenced the younger generation of writers in the 1…

Owen, Wilfred

(538 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Owen, Wilfred (March 18, 1893, Oswestry [Shropshire] – November 4, 1918, Landrecies [Département du Nord; killed]), British lyric poet. During the World War Owen served on the Western Front with the Second Manchesters. His experiences in positional warfare provided the material for forceful lyrics, which after his death counted among the most significant English-language testimonials of the antiwar movement. Owen had already travelled to France, where he worked as a language teacher. Then in 1915, he returned to England to enlist as a volunteer soldier.…

Cecil (of Chelwood), Edgar Algernon Robert

(318 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Cecil (of Chelwood), Edgar Algernon Robert (September 14, 1864, London – November 24, 1958, Tunbridge Wells; from 1923 First Viscount), British politician. Cecil was one of the architects and longstanding champions of the League of Nations. After training as a lawyer, he began his political career in 1906 as Conservative Member of Parliament for East Marylebone. At the outbreak of the First World War he first became involved with the Red Cross. He became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Fore…

Cavell, Edith Louisa

(464 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Cavell, Edith Louisa (December 4, 1865, Swardeston [Norfolk] – October 12, 1915, Brussels [executed]), British nurse. Cavell directed the nurses’ school ( École Belge d’Infirmières Diplomées) at Berkendael on the edge of Brussels from 1907 to 1915. In the autumn of 1914 she met Herman Capiau, a Belgian engineer engaged in aiding the escape of Allied soldiers caught behind the German lines after the fall of Mons. Capiau asked her to take in two British soldiers who had disguised themselves as Belgian workers. These two w…

Sassoon, Siegfried Lorraine

(753 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Sassoon, Siegfried Lorraine (September 8, 1886, Weirleigh [Kent] – September 1, 1967, Heytesbury [Wiltshire]), British writer. Sassoon joined the Sussex Yeomanry in 1914, and in the following year signed up with the Royal Welch Fusiliers, an elite British regiment. At the end of June 1916, Second Lieutenant Sassoon was awarded the Military Cross for outstanding courage in the field. He was seen as an audaciously daring soldier (“Mad Jack”), who frequently volunteered for nighttime assaults. Some we…

Asquith, Herbert Henry

(520 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Asquith, Herbert Henry (September 12, 1863, Morley [West Yorkshire] – February 15, 1928, London; from 1925 Earl of Oxford and Asquith), British politician and leader of the Liberal Party; prime minister 1908–1916. Asquith belonged to the liberal-imperialist wing of his party. A member of the House of Commons from 1886, from 1891 he served as home secretary under William Gladstone. After the landslide victory in the 1906 election, which ended a period of nearly ten years in opposition for the Libera…