Cold comfortBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b554 (Published 11 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b554
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
In 1938 Siegfried Sassoon, the war poet and author of Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, published a further memoir of his childhood and youth, called The Old Century and Seven More Years. It is a beautiful evocation of a privileged childhood in what was (for the privileged and perhaps even for some others) a golden age. Sassoon captures perfectly that strange childish mixture of imagination and literal mindedness, of cunning and naivety, that I remember from my own childhood.
Privileged as he was, serious illness made its appearance early in his life. His father, who was estranged from his mother, died in 1895 from tuberculosis when Sassoon was 9 …