Gladness and Good Luck

hunting sketch

‘Hunting’, in ‘The Poems’, 1897. From MS Add. 9852.

While we are growing up we discard the past with heartless superiority. We have no time to stop and think tenderly about it.

The Old Century

On one side artistic and professional, on the other cosmopolitan and mercantile, Siegfried Sassoon's ancestry endowed him with a distinctive mix of advantages and uncertainties. He was born in 1886, the son of Alfred Ezra Sassoon, a cadet of an outstandingly successful family of Sephardic traders recently settled in Britain from India, and his wife Theresa, the daughter and sister of noted sculptors with roots in agricultural England. His parents separated when he was young and his father died soon afterwards, leaving Sassoon with an attenuated awareness of his Jewish heritage. He had a secluded rural upbringing in the Weald of Kent, where his intense response to the English countryside was fostered.

Sassoon came up to Clare College, Cambridge, in 1905, but left without taking a degree. Sufficiently wealthy not to need to work, he adopted a life of sporting leisure and bookish versifying—a young man, he later wrote, of 'emptiness and immaturity of mind, so clueless, so inconsequent, and so unforeseeing.'

Hunting annual

A page from Sassoon's hunting diary for December 1908. From MS Add. 9852.

House sketch

Sketch with an oast house, by Siegfried Sassoon, aged 10. From MS Add. 9852.


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