The diaries of war poet Siegfried Sassoon, who wrote many poems about the horrors of World War I, are being published online for the first time.
Siegfried Loraine Sassoon was an English poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. Sassoon's poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirized the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon's view, were responsible for a jingoism-fueled war.
Sassoon's stance against the madness of the First World War led to him becoming a focal point for dissent within the armed forces. This culminating with him making a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his "Soldier's Declaration" of 1917. In response, the British Army sent Sassoon to a a mental hospital. A line from "Soldier's Declaration" runs:
"I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this War, on which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest."
Post-war Sassoon continued to write poetry and prose until his death in 1967.
Sassoon is regarded as one of the most significant war poets and an important chronicler of life during the war. As a way to mark the centenary of the war, Sassoon's diaries are being published online for the first time. The archive of 23 journals and two notebooks of poetry has been digitized by the Cambridge University Library. The journals are freely available as of August 1.
Librarian Anne Jarvis told the BBC that: ""From his 'Soldier's Declaration' to his eyewitness accounts of the first day of battle on the Somme, the Sassoon archive is a collection of towering importance, not just to historians, but to anyone seeking to understand the horror, bravery and futility of the First World War as experienced by those on the front lines and in the trenches.
"We are honored to be able to make them available to everyone, anywhere in the world, on the 100th anniversary of the First World War."