Thursday, 3 October 2019

Arthur Hugh Sidgwick (1882 - 1917) – British soldier poet

Born on 2nd October 1882 in Headington, Oxfordshire, UK, Arthur was the son of Arthur Sidgwick, later Fellow and Tutor of Corpus Christi College, Oxford and Reader of Greek at the University, and his wife, Charlotte Sophia Sidgwick, daughter of the Reverend Arthur Wilson, Vicar of Nocton in Lincolnshire.    He had three sisters and one brother.

Arthur was educated at Winchester College and won the Queen’s Gold Medal for English Verse, and the Hawkins’ English Literature Prize. He was Richardson Mathematical Prizeman in 1900 and Goddard Scholar in 1901 – a very rare combination – and played in College VI in his last year. He went up to Balliol College, Oxford University in 1901, obtained distinction in the examination for the Ireland Scholarship and took his degree with First Classes in Mathematical Moderations, Classical Moderations and Literae Humaniores. In 1905 he was elected to a Fellowship at University College and in 1906 won the Chancellor’s Prize for English Essay on “The Influence of Greek Philosophy on English Poetry”. The same year, Arthur was appointed a Junior Examiner under the Board of Education and, when the First World War broke out, he was acting as private secretary to Sir Lewis Selby-Bigge (Coll. 1873-1879), Permanent Secretary of the Board, where he seemed assured of a brilliant career.

Unable to obtain his release before the end of 1915, Arthur was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery.  After serving for a year, he was recalled from France to assist his colleagues at the Board of Education in preparing for the Education Bill of 1917. Arthur returned to his Battery on the Western Front in April 1917, and was killed in action near Ypres on 17th September 1917. Arthur Hugh Sidgwick is buried in Mendingham Military Cemetery, Grave Reference VII.E.6. He was a keen supporter of the Workers’ Educational Association and left a legacy to them and also to his schools and to Balliol College.

In 1912 Arthur published “Walking Essays” and in 1914 ”The Promenade Ticket”. His poetry collection “Jones’s Wedding, and other Verses” was published by Arnold in 1918.
Further information can be obtained from the Balliol College Archives:

Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)