Unseen First World War Siegfried Sassoon poem to be offered at auction

A signed manuscript poem by eminent wartime poet Siegfried Sassoon is to go on sale this month.

The unseen original version of The Dug Out, written in pencil in August 1918 and later overwritten in ink, will be sold together with three photographs of Sassoon, two of which are signed.

Sassoon enlisted as a trooper in the Sussex yeomanry, and in 1915 was commissioned in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and posted to France. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, Sassoon’s poetry often describes the horror of war in vivid detail.

A signed manuscript of The Dug Out - Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions
A signed manuscript of The Dug Out - Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

A signed manuscript poem by eminent wartime poet Siegfried Sassoon is to go on sale this month.

The unseen original version of The Dug Out, written in pencil in August 1918 and later overwritten in ink, will be sold together with three photographs of Sassoon, two of which are signed.

Sassoon enlisted as a trooper in the Sussex yeomanry, and in 1915 was commissioned in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and posted to France. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, Sassoon’s poetry often describes the horror of war in vivid detail.

The Dug Out, which begins “Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled/ And one arm bent across your sullen, cold/ Exhausted face? It hurts my heart to watch you…” was written in August 1918 after Sassoon had been wounded and invalided for the final time.

The manuscript was owned by British anti-war writer and journalist Henry Major Tomlinson. The men became friends when Sassoon worked as a book reviewer for British newspaper the Daily Herald.

Their lifelong friendship lasted until Tomlinson’s death in 1958. Sassoon died in 1967.

The manuscript features a later note on the reverse, which reads: "Siegfried Sassoon original drafted in pencil – then inked over. (H.C. Tomlinson confirmed)."

It is expected to fetch £2,000–£3,000 when it is offered for sale for the first time in Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ sale of Modern Literature on Friday 11 April.

To find out more, visit www.dreweatts.com

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