The Patriot's Progress, Being the Vicissitudes of Pte. John Bullock

Hardback, Geoffrey Bles, third impression, May 1930.

Book condition: dust wrapper slightly frayed along top edge and top and bottom of spine, but otherwise a very nice copy of this early impression, printed just a month after the book's publication.
Price: £15.00


The Patriot's Progress was immediately recognised for the power of its writing and the striking lino-cuts by William Kermode, and has stood the test of time. It has been reprinted many times over the years and is recognised as a classic of First World War literature.


The front flap of the dust wrapper of this impression quotes from two 'early press opinions':


Mr. Arnold Bennett [then the leading book critic of the day] in The Evening Standard:


"Its power lies in the descriptions, which have not been surpassed in any other war book within my knowledge. I began by marking pages of terrific description. But I had to mark so many that I ceased to mark. I said: 'Nothing could beat that, or that, or that.' I was wrong. Henry Williamson was keeping resources in reserve for the supreme attack in which his hero lost a leg. This description (p. 169), quite brief, is a marvel of inspired virtuosity. And it is as marvellous psychologically as physically. . . . No overt satire, sarcasm, sardonic irony in the book. Yet it amounts to a tremendous, an overwhelming, an unanswerable indictment of the institution of war – 'the lordliest life on earth.'


"A word as to Mr. Kermode's pictures. . . . They are very good, and just as much a part of the book as the text itself. It would be as fair to say that the text illustrates the pictures as that the pictures illustrate the text. The two forms of expression are here, for once, evenly complementary."


Mr. Gerald Gould in The Observer:


"'The Patriot's Progress' really is a great book. Even after all the war books of a similar pattern that have gone before, it beats on nerve and heart with a terrific and almost intolerable power. . . . I cannot attempt to illustrate this book by quotation. It must be read for its crescendo. Timid as I am about superlatives, I think it is perhaps the most deadly, the most dreadful, and at the same time most beautiful, of the English war books."


(For a further consideration of the book and the background to the writing of it, see Anne Williamson's The Patriot's Progress.)