December 18, 2009 / 12:12 AM / 10 years ago

Cambridge acquires anti-war poet Sassoon's papers

LONDON (Reuters) - Cambridge University has acquired an important collection of personal papers belonging to Siegfried Sassoon, the British anti-war poet noted for his bravery in battle, after a six-month fund-raising campaign.

The university’s library has taken delivery of the papers, which cost 1.25 million pounds ($2.0 million) and had been kept by the poet’s son until his death in 2006.

The collection includes war diaries Sassoon kept on the Western Front and in Palestine between 1915 and 1918, notebooks recording his schoolboy cricket scores and post-war journals tracing his turbulent personal life and literary career.

The archive also includes a draft copy of the 1917 “A Soldier’s Declaration,” in which Sassoon argued that World War One was being “deliberately prolonged” by those in power.

The declaration, which he sent to his commanding officer, was read out in parliament and caused a storm of controversy.

Sassoon was subsequently taken to Craiglockhart hospital in Scotland where he was treated for shell-shock and met fellow war poet Wilfred Owen, who was killed in action just before the conflict ended.

Sassoon has been credited with helping to change people’s perception of the Great War, doing away with patriotic propaganda and conveying the horror and agony of life and death in the trenches for thousands of young men.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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