Chichester Literary Society marks war anniversaries

Chichester Literary Society is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One with a special event on Friday, June 6 – a date which is also the 70th anniversary of World War Two’s D-Day invasion.

Spokeswoman Roberta Grieve said: “What they thought at home and what the soldiers knew at the front is the theme of Behind the Lines, a programme of World War One poetry and prose performed by actor Gabriel Woolf and Linda Hart, a freelance editor, writer and lecturer.

“They will read from the works of soldier poets including Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and Ivor Gurney. The enthusiasm for the war expressed by Julian Grenfell and Rupert Brooke will be contrasted with the bitterness of Siegfried Sassoon and the wry humour of E E Cummings.”

The readings darken in tone, reflecting the horror that unfolded as the war dragged on.

But, as Gabriel Woolf say: “Humour helped the soldiers to survive, so our programme includes readings that will provide some laughter, from the pages of the famous trench newspaper, The Wipers Times. We’ve included some snatches of songs that also lighten the atmosphere, as they did for the soldiers.”

Linda Hart said she was pleased to be reading several works by female poets who expressed their joy, their fears – and then their anger as the war went on.

Linda added: “Of course, no programme on World War One is complete without Vera Brittain and the loss of her beloved Roland. And, as an expat American, I am also delighted that we have included a poem about the war by Robert Frost.”

Proceeds from ticket sales will be divided between the British Legion and St George’s Church.

Behind the Lines takes place at St George’s Church, Cleveland Road, Chichester, PO19 7AD, on June 6 at 7pm for 7.30pm. Tickets (£10) are available on 01243 537646. See also www.chichesterliterarysociety.co.uk.