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Alun Lewis: Collected Stories

Alun Lewis
Cary Archard
Publication Date: 
Thursday, February 23, 1995
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Alun Lewis (1915-1944) was one of the few great British writers of the Second World War. His early death at the age of twenty-eight robbed Wales of its most promising poet and story writer. Born and brought up near Aberdare in south Wales, the son of a teacher, he read history at Aberystwyth and Manchester. After a period of unemployment he became a teacher in south Wales, before enlisting in the Royal Engineers in 1940.

Although he had been writing since an early age, becoming a soldier had a stimulating effect on Lewis’s writing: his first book of poems, Raiders’ Dawn, was published in 1942, and The Last Inspection, a collection of stories, appeared in the same year, alerting critics and editors to the arrival of a new war writer. Both books are characterised by vivid realism and emotional power.

Later in 1942 Lewis’s new regiment, the South Wales Borderers, travelled to India. His experiences there are recreated in the beautiful poems of Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets and the stories and letters of In the Green Tree. On the reputation of these four books Alun Lewis is widely seen, with Keith Douglas, as the outstanding writer of World War Two.

Collected Stories reprints the war stories in their entirety for the first time. It also collects stories published in student magazines and newspapers such as The Guardian, together with several previously unseen. In bringing together all this material, editor Cary Archard shows Lewis’s development from remarkable schoolboy writer to mature and established author whose stories appeared in magazines such as Horizon and Lilliput.

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