New followers of the blog deserve an explanation, I feel, of why the last four posts have been purely military and what stage ‘Calderonia’ is at.
The main object of the blog is to follow the last year of writer George Calderon’s life in a kind of ‘real time’, i.e. by posting events and documents exactly a hundred years after they happened. We need to contextualise these by keeping track of other, simultaneous developments — military, social, political — that impacted, however obliquely, on Calderon’s life. Concurrently, when there is time I discuss any theme that arises, e.g. Edwardian semantics, George’s Chekhov translations, or the writing of my 160,000-word biography, which is now almost finished. (Another theme is, please consider Leaving a Comment on the blog rather than e-mailing me or writing, so that your views can be shared directly with other followers.)
On 9 January 1915, at the age of forty-six, George was given a commission as lieutenant with the 9th Ox and Bucks. Shortly after he moved with them into Fort Brockhurst at Gosport, the whole battalion went down with flu and tonsilitis, and he was very ill. About the middle of February 1915 he was well enough to come home to Hampstead on sick leave. My guess is that he returned to Fort Brockhurst and his military training in the first week of March 1915 (see post of 3 March 2015).
Unfortunately, we have no personal documents relating to Calderon’s life between the beginning of February and the middle of April 1915. This could be because, as his wife Kittie’s memoirs tell us, he was home Friday-Monday every weekend. However, George was a pretty prolific letter-writer and one of the purposes of his letters home from military service was to provide a record of his experiences for a later book. It seems quite possible, therefore, that he wrote home in this period but that some of his letters were concerned with Kittie’s attempts to persuade him to give up active service and work on the home front. He was unresponsive to her arguments, and those of many of his friends. So she may well have destroyed this part of their correspondence.
Rest assured, from the middle of April we can resume the story of George’s life in much more continuous ‘real time’, with some wonderful personal documents. Meanwhile, my supposition is that on weekend leave, amongst other things, George worked on a synopsis of his travel book Tahiti which would enable Kittie to assemble it if he did not return from the War, and on his last play The Lamp, which she was similarly able to complete for publication. Tomorrow, then, I will look at aspects of Tahiti (see also my blogs of 27 February and 1 March), and subsequently I shall discuss The Lamp.
On the military front, my priority will be to keep in step with developments at the Dardanelles. For a superb recent interview on the subject, go to:
Next entry: Tahiti: an imagined world?