All posts by Christopher Linfoot

The World War 1 Diaries of Arthur Linfoot

Cover InageWe now have a limited number of copies of the book of Arthur Linfoot’s diaries available to purchase.

The book contains all of the diaries plus supplementary information not available on-line.

Copies cost £14 each, including P&P to UK addresses. For overseas purchasers an additional international shipping charge will apply.

If you would like to request a copy, please send an email to [email protected] with the subject “Book Order”, stating number of copies desired and the full postal address to which they should be sent. Payment instructions will be confirmed by email.

The period covered by the centenary of Arthur Linfoot’s diaries has now ended and no further diary posts by Arthur Linfoot will appear here. The final post was for 31 December 1918. We thank our loyal readers for their interest. This site will remain as a permanent record. Additionally we are considering a limited print run of a book containing most of this site’s contents, supplemented with additional narrative and background information. If you would like to express an interest, without obligation on either side, please get in touch via our feedback page and leave your name and number of copies you may require. Further news will appear here early in 2019.

The Ordeal of Richard Feverel

cover imageThe Ordeal of Richard Feverel  (subtitled “A History of Father and Son”) is the earliest full-length novel by George Meredith, published in 1859.

Sir Austin Feverel’s wife deserts him to run away with a poet, leaving her husband to bring up their boy Richard. Believing schools to be corrupt, Sir Austin, a scientific humanist, educates the boy at home with a plan of his own devising.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that his comrade, Harvey, had lent him “Richard Feverel” on 20 August 1918, while stationed at Choques, midway between Lillers and Béthune in Northern France. He continued to read the book in the following days.

The History of Mr Polly

cover imageThe History of Mr Polly is a comic novel by H. G. Wells, first published in 1910.

The History of Mr. Polly has three parts. The first part (chapters 1–6) tells of his life up to age 20, when he marries his cousin and sets up a shop. The second part (chapters 7–8) tells of his  suicide attempt, after which he abandons his shop and his wife. The third part (chapters 9–10) and an epilogue sees him becoming a happy and settled assistant innkeeper.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had read some of The History of Mr Polly on 9 August 1918, while stationed at Choques, midway between Lillers and Béthune in Northern France.

The Author’s Craft

cover imageThe Author’s Craft is a short book written in 1914 by Enoch Arnold Bennett, author of another book previously mentioned by Arthur Linfoot, Anna of the Five Towns.

It is a short exposition on writing but doesn’t explore technique in the same depth as some modern writers’ guides do, rather concentrating on emotional aspects and the need for an author to express passion and beauty.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read through” this book and discussed it with a comrade, Harvey, while posted at Pleurs, south of Épernay on 27 June 1918.

The Passionate Friends

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The Passionate Friends is a 1913 novel by H. G. Wells.

It takes the form of a letter to the his son by Stephen Stratton in which he sets out the story of his relationship with Lady Mary Christian, later Lady Mary Justin, with whom he had had a lifelong, on-again, off-again affair, although they had never married.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had ‘Commenced to read “The Passionate Friends”’ on 10 June 1918, shortly after arriving at Pierry, just south of Epernay.

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.