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Page from the autograph manuscript of Fifty Poems, by Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon wrote this fair copy in 1924 while choosing material for his Selected Poems (1925). When the autograph manuscript was rebound in 1953, many empty pages were removed, but Sassoon had intended to fill them eventually, as his note at the end of the volume reveals: ‘The blank pages are the rest of my life.’ He gave the volume to the Fitzwilliam where he had found inspiration during the Great War. While stationed in Cambridge in 1915, he met the Museum Director, Sydney Cockerell, and later recalled returning from an evening with Cockerell to his ‘camp bed in Pembroke College in a trance of stimulation after having handled manuscripts of D.G. Rossetti, William Morris and Francis Thompson … almost a living contact with the Pre-Raphaelites whom I have worshipped since my dreaming adolescence.’