All posts by Christopher Linfoot

Mr Britling Sees It Through

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Mr. Britling Sees It Through is H.G. Wells‘ “masterpiece of the wartime experience in England”1. The novel was published in September 1916.

The book  tells the story of a writer, Mr. Britling, who lives  in the fictional village of Matching’s Easy, Essex. The novel is divided into three parts. Book the First, entitled “Matching’s Easy At Ease”; Book the Second, “Matching’s Easy at War”; and Book the Third, “The Testament of Matching’s Easy”.

This book appears to have had a lasting appeal to Arthur Linfoot; a copy remained at his home in Sunderland and was read during WW2 by ALL’s own offspring.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had started to read this book on 3 April 1918, while stationed near Bailleul in Northern France.


  1. According to David C. Smith, writing in “H.G. Wells: Desperately Mortal: A Biography”. 

Old St. Paul’s

Cover ImageOld St. Paul’s, also titled Old Saint Paul’s: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire, is a novel by William Harrison Ainsworth serially published in The Sunday Times from 3 January 1841 to 26 December 1841.

The story of Old St. Paul’s is spread over six books which range between April 1665 and September 1666, culminating in the Great Fire of London.

Arthur Linfoot noted that he had ‘spent [the] afternoon on French and reading “Old St Paul’s”’ (presumably not all of it) in his diary entry of 20 November 1917 while stationed at Wallon Cappell.

Emerson’s Essays

Cover ImageRalph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet.

He wrote two books of essays, a First Series, published in 1841, and a Second Series, published in 1844. A further book of essays, Representative Men, the printed form of a series of lectures given by Emerson, was published in 1850. Emerson’s essays have subsequently sometimes been published together in anthologies.

On 18 November 1917, while stationed at Wallon Cappell, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read some of Emerson’s essays at night”. Clearly we cannot know which of Emerson’s essays Arthur Linfoot read on this day, or in what form.

Sinister Street

Cover ImageCompton Mackenzie (17 January 1883 – 30 November 1972) was an English born Scottish writer and lifelong Scottish nationalist. He was one of the co-founders in 1928 of the Scottish National Party but is possibly now more widely remembered as the author of his 1947 novel, Whisky Galore, which has been adapted as films twice, in 1949 and 2016.

Sinister Street is Compton Mackenzie’s novel published in  two volumes in 1913 and 1914. The work was published  in the UK as Sinister Street, volumes 1 and 2, and in the USA as two books, Youth’s Encounter and Sinister Street. It is a novel about growing up, and concerns two children, Michael Fane and his sister Stella, both born out of wedlock to rich parents. The book had several sequels, which continue until Michael Fane’s marriage.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had ‘finished reading “Sinister Street” volume I’ on 18 November 1917 while stationed at Wallon Cappell.

Sunderland Daily Echo 8 November 1917

ROLL OF HONOUR

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Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

WHITTAKER – – Killed in action October 22nd1, 1917 aged 22 years, 2nd-Lieut, William Gaylard Whittaker2, Northumberland Fusiliers, dearly loved son of William and Agnes Whittaker.


  1. See ALL’s retrospective note of W’s death on 22 October – coincidentally, the news actually reached ALL on 8 November, the same day that W’s name appeared in this Roll of Honour in the Sunderland Daily Echo. 

  2. See also: William Gaylard Whittaker at Lives of the First World War. 

Sunderland Daily Echo 2 November 1917

MILITARY MEDAL

Newspaper Cutting
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
Newspaper image and text sourced from The British Newspaper Archive.

Mrs E. W. Linfoot1, of 16, Nelson Street, has received a letter from her husband, Bomb. Linfoot, R.G.A., intimating that he has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery and devotion to duty on October 4th. Bomb Linfoot was an assistant with Messrs Hills and Co., stationers, Fawcett Street, prior to joining the Colours in May, 1916, and has been six months in France.


  1. “Mrs E. W. Linfoot” refers, of course, to Hilda Linfoot (née Tulip), wife of Mr E. W. Linfoot, ALL’s brother Ernie. See also Family page, and Hilda. 

Stacpoole

The Blue LagoonOn 29 May 1917, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read a bit of Stacpoole’s Wilderness”. He continued reading it on 30 May.

Stacpoole could be either Henry De Vere Stacpoole (1863 – 1951), a very popular and prolific Irish author best-known for his novel The Blue Lagoon (1908; adapted as films many times, most famously in 1980), or; HDVS’ eldest brother, William Henry Stacpoole (1846 – 1914), doctor of divinity, Dean of Kingstown1 school and also a published author.

No book entitled “Wilderness” appears in bibliographies of either Stacpoole although much of HDVS’ oeuvre (including The Blue Lagoon) takes wilderness as a theme, while WHS’ books are all science fiction. This may suggest that the book Arthur Linfoot was reading on this day was by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, although which of his books this was remains unclear.


  1. The Irish coastal town of Dún Laoghaire was known as Kingstown from 1821 to 1920. 

Sunderland Daily Echo 23 May 1917

FUNERAL OF MR J. MULLENS.

Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Image and text via the British Newspaper Archive.

The funeral of the late Mr James Mullens, commercial traveller, who died while travelling by train on Sunday to fulfil a preaching engagement, took place at noon to-day. The coffin was of polished fumed oak with brass mountings, the shield bearing the inscription : “James Mullens, died May 20, 1917, aged 73 years.” The officiating minister was the Rev. Edward Eaves, and the interment was made in the family burial ground in Sunderland Cemetery, Ryhope Road. The mourners included Mrs F. W. Waggott (sister), Mr G. P. Mullens, Mr H. R. Mullens (sons), Mr and Mrs Arthur Mullins (son and daughter-in-law), Mr F. Waggott (son-in-law), Mr E. Stokes (brother-in-law), Mr J. H. Waggott, Sister Annie, Mr. E. Potts, Miss Hammond, Mr J. W. Gant, Mr R. P. Hann, Mr R. Bailes, Mr Eaves, and Mr J. Hine. There were no flowers, by request. Messrs Crofton and Sons had charge of the funeral arrangements.