The Fellowship will seek to take an active role in the campaign launched by Cambridge University on Thursday 25th
June 2009 - to buy an important collection of personal papers belonging to Siegfried Sassoon.
With admirable prescience this year’s annual conference took place on September 12th at Lucy Cavendish
College Cambridge, highlighting Sassoon’s Cambridge experiences and connections. The progress of the campaign was discussed
extensively at the conference.
The archive of manuscripts 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.
Sotheby's, which is handling the private sale of the archives, called them "unquestionably the most valuable collection
of Sassoon's papers ever to be offered for sale."
Cambridge University has valued the archive, comprising seven boxes of material, at £1.25 million.
It includes Sassoon's journals, pocket notebooks compiled on the Western Front, poetry books, photographs and love letters
to his wife Hester. The papers also include 34 volumes of journals dated 1920-1959, many unpublished, documenting
Sassoon's post-war life including his affair with aristocrat Stephen Tennant.
Led by Max Egremont, Sassoon Fellowship patron and official biographer, the campaign also has the backing of Birdsong
author Sebastian Faulks, former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion and military historian Professor Richard Holmes.
Lord Egremont said: "As well as being one of the most famous of all British war poets, Sassoon was a distinguished
autobiographical writer. For most of his life he kept copious journals.
"A successful fundraising campaign would create the most important gathering of Sassoon papers anywhere in the world.
The alternatives - which might include the breaking up of the archive and its dispersal - could represent a disaster for the
British archival heritage. I appeal to those who care about the preservation of this extraordinary archive to support the
University Library's campaign."
Your committee will be updating this website on the progress of the campaign and best way to support it. Donations
towards the campaign can be made by cheque, payable to 'The University of Cambridge' and sent to Cambridge University Library
(Sassoon Appeal), West Road, Cambridge, England, CB3 9DR.
Update Wednesday, 4 November 2009
The campaign to save
the papers of World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon for the nation has been
bolstered by a grant of £550,000.
Heritage Memorial Fund's award to Cambridge
University puts it closer
to raising the £1.25m needed to permanently secure the collection.
The Cambridge University
campaign to purchase
Sassoon's papers from his family is led by his official biographer Max
grant will leave
the fund with £110,000 still to raise.
"If the rest of the money can be raised, the papers will soon be available
to the public.
to the appeal has been heartening in these difficult times and shows Sassoon's
popularity and importance as a writer."