Saturday, 23 January 2021

Maurice Henry Hewlett (1861 – 1923) – British writer and poet

Maurice was born in Weybridge, Surrey, UK, the eldest child of Henry Gay Hewlett, of Shaw Hall, Addington, Kent, and his wife Emmeline Mary, nee Knowles. Dducated at the London International College, Spring Grove, Isleworth, Maurice then studied law and was called to the bar in 1891. He gave up the law after the success of his book “The Forest Lovers”. From 1896 to 1901 Maurice was, like his father before him, Keeper of Lands, Revenues, Records and Enrolments, a government post as adviser on matters of medieval law.

On 3rd January 1888, Maurice married Hilda Beatrice Herbert at St Peter's Church, Vauxhall, where her father was vicar. The couple had two children - a daughter, Pia, and a son, Francis - but went their separate ways in 1914, partly due to Hilda's increasing interest in aviation. In 1911, Hilda became the first woman in the UK to gain a pilot's licence, although she was not the first British woman to become a pilot as Winifred Buller gained her pilot’s licende in 1909.

Maurice went to live in Broad Chalke, Wiltshire. Among his friends were the poets Evelyn Underhill and Ezra Pound - who he met at the Poets' Club in London. Maurice was also a friend of J. M. Barrie, who named one of the pirates in Peter Pan - "Cecco"  - after Hewlett's son.

Maurice was parodied by Max Beerbohm in “A Christmas Garland” in the part titled "Fond Hearts Askew".  He died in London on 15th June 1923.

Maurice Hewlett’s WW1 collections were:  “A Ballad of “The Gloster” and “The Goeben” (Poetry Bookshop, London, 1914); “Flowers in the grass: Wiltshire plainsong” (Constable, London, 1920), “Gai saber: tales and songs” (Elkin Mathews, London, 1916), “Singsongs of the War: poems” (Poetry Bookshop, London, 1914) and “The song of the plow” (Heinemann, London, 1916.  He also had poems published in seventeen WW1 poetry anthologies.

From “The Village Wife’s Lament” by Maurice Hewlett with an Introduction by J. C. Squire. (Martin Secker, London, 1918)  pages 51 – 53.


When forth my love to duty went 

I sought my old home, 

My few months' joy over and spent, 

And lean years to come. 

My mother blinkt her patient eyes ; 

She said, It was to be. 

Was I less temperate or more wise 

To question t her decree ? 

Was it for this, our clasp and kiss ? 

For this end and no other 

That I was shapt to have increase, 

And call'd to be mother ? 

Did God make o'er the power to soar 

On men, that they should sink ? 

Did He outpour a flood of war 

And leave us on the brink ? 

Was't so He wove the robe of Love, 

To mock the lovely earth ? 

Sees He, above, creation move 

To death, not birth ? 

Go, thou dear head, for God is dead, 

And Death is our Lord : 

Between us, red, lies in the bed 

War, like a naked sword. 


O failing heart, accept your part, 

And thank the Lord, Who bound 

Your labour daily to the mart, 

Your service to the ground ! 

Take to the mart your stricken heart, 

Tho' the chaffer graze it ; 

Shrink not altho' the quick flesh smart- 

But meet pain and praise it ! 


He came to see me once again, 

Stiffen 'd in his new buff : 

A few short hours compact of strain, 

Too hasty for love ; 

For Love can never be confin'd, 

But asks eternity. 

To nurse the lov'd one in the mind 

The bond must first be free. 

And he, he now serv'd otherwhere 

And could not be the same ; 

To all the world my love was there 

And answer 'd to his name ; 

But not to me, oh, not to me 

The kisses of his lips 

Were as of old,, but guardedly, 

Like sunlight in eclipse. 

The moment came, I held him close, 

But had no word to say — 

Good-bye, sweetheart, Good-bye, Blush Rose 

'Twas his old way. 

Then in a hush which seem'd to rock 

Me like a leaf about, 

I heard the pulsing of the clock, 

Counting my dear life out. 

And I am here, and you are, where ? 

While the long hours go by, 

And on my eyes the glaze of care, 

And in my heart a cry. 

Bury my heart deep in the grave 

Where all its grace is hid : 

What other service should I have 

Than tend my lovely dead ? 

Sources:  Find my past, Free BMD,

Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) pp. 167 - 168