Friday, 27 October 2017

Stephen Southwold (1887 – 1964) - British

It always surprises me when I research the forgotten poets of the First World War when I discover someone like writer and poet Stephen Southwold who was a very prolific writer but is now almost completely forgotten.   He has a brief mention in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) on page 300, giving the title of his WW1 collection and the fact that Reilly found a copy in the British Museum.  Fortunately, Stephen's grandson, Andrew, is working hard to ensure that Stephen's work is given more attention.

Stephen was born Stephen Henry Critten on 22nd February 1887 in Southwold, Suffolk.  His parents were George Miller Critten, an insurance agent, and his wife Emma Critten, nee Lambert.  The family lived in Suffolk but in 1911 were registered as living in West Ham, London.   Stephen’s siblings were Dorothea, b. 1880, Katherine or Catherine, b. 1882 and Percy, b. 1885.  Like Stephen, his siblings became school teachers.

Stephen studied to become a school teacher at St. Mark’s Training College in Chelsea, London.  He then worked as a teacher at Earlsmead Council School in Tottenham from 1907 until 1913 and at Culvert Road Council School from 1913 until 1927, with a break for military service.

Stephen joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Private and served on the Western Front from 1914 until 1919.   Many of his WW1 poems were written in France in 1918.

In 1928, Stephen married Edith A.S. Bill and they lived in Herne Bay, Kent.

Apart from poems, Stephen, who changed his surname to Southwold, wrote children’s stories, novels and science fiction and used the pen names Neil Bell, Miles, Stephen Green, S.H. Lambert and Paul Martens.

His WW1 poetry collection “The Common Day: Poems” was published by Allen & Unwin in 1915.

For further information about Stephen and to read some of his poems, please see Andrew Southwold’s Facebook page dedicated to his grandfather
Find my Past and Free BMD
Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and information from the Facebook Page Stephen Southwold kindly supplied by Andrew Southwold.