Merryn Williams

THE GEORGIANS 1901-1930

 

      This is an anthology which I felt was long overdue.  The Georgians were a group of poets, mostly under forty, who wrote or grew up before the First World War.  It seemed a good time to be a young author, reacting against Tennyson and the Victorians.  Edward Marsh published some of the most famous poems in English in Georgian Poetry. Harold Monro's Poetry Bookshop welcomed large audiences.  Poetry had never been, and never would be again, so popular in Britain.

       They were a brilliant, and strikingly different group.  Some wrote about the green heart of England, others about the poor in big cities, the mysterious East, loneliness and madness - and, later on, of course, the 1914-18 war.  The twenty-three men and one woman I selected are Lascelles Abercrombie, Ferenc Bekassy, Edmund Blunden, Rupert Brooke, G.K. Chesterton, W.H. Davies, Walter de la Mare, John Drinkwater, James Elroy Flecker, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, Robert Graves, Ivor Gurney, D.H. Lawrence, Francis Ledwidge, John Masefield, Charlotte Mew, Harold Monro, Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Charles Sorley, J.C. Squire, Edward Thomas and T.P. Cameron Wilson.  Why only one woman?  Because, sadly, Charlotte was the only one I could find.

      But, after August 1914, it was obvious that the language of poetry had to change.  One after another, the younger Georgians went to war, and eight of the twenty-four died.  Those who were left went out of fashion and, by 1930, the movement had practically collapsed.  Although some of us did go on reading some of the most famous Georgian poems in school.

        I've also included several letters - some of them letters from the front - and reviews in which the poets commented on one another.

      John Lucas and Shoestring Press took a considered risk publishing this book, as half of the poets are still in copyright.  It became possible with the help of subscribers, to all of whom I'm deeply grateful.

 

      This is an excellent anthology ....  Merryn Williams has given herself the opportunity to go beyond the artificial construct known as Georgian poetry, and in doing so has shown how rich and varied the work of this disparate and patchy group could be.  It is a group most of whose writing is unjustly neglected.

                                                                           Vivien Noakes, Wilfred Owen Journal.

 

      A wonderful anthology edited by Merryn Williams for the brilliant Shoestring Press.

                                                                                                                        David Morley

 

      The Georgians 1901-1930 is the first attempt to do justice to the period since James Reeves's highly regarded Penguin Georgian Poetry, first published in 1962.  

                                                                                                 Tony Roberts, PN Review  

 

       As a necessary anthology for the period, you can't go wrong.  In particular, it's helpful to see the now-famous names alongside their real-time contemporaries much as their first readerships would have seen them.

                                                                      Rennie Parker, Friends of the Dymock Poets.