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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

Edgell Rickword: Politics and Poetry David Holbrook

'One of the important figures in English poetry af the 14-18
War', said F. R. Leavis,

is Edgell Rickword. I think the book to look at is Invocation to Angels, a real talent. Rickword was, of course, editor of the distinguished Calendar of Modern Letters, which published that series of Scrutinies by D. H. Lawrence and others . . . I don't know what happened to Rickword: I think he came under the influence of Garman, who is now 'culture' for the Party . . .


This was in 1945, when I was an ex-service student, back at Cambridge on Class 'B' release, licking my wounds, and catching up with the English Tripos. I ordered the cardboard box of Calendars in the University Library and read them from cover to cover, and found much in them that was remarkable, not least the pieces by Edgell Rickword and his cousin C. H. R. I also asked for the slim volumes of Edgell's verse, Behind the Eyes and Twittingpan. One of my drinking companions, Peter Gunn, turned out to know Edgell very well, and one weekend in 1947 I met him in the Rosslyn Arms in Hampstead. So, after completing the Tripos, it happened that I began work with Edgell as Assistant Editor on Our Time, the Left-wing journal of the arts which he edited.

I can't remember much about that period, except the rather bleak atmosphere of the upstairs office ...


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