“Sixteen years ago I built this house
Herbert Read (1893-1968), anarchist poet, veteran of the 1st World War (he got a DSO and a MC), living in Norfolk during the Second World War, published a short collection of poems in 1944 under the title ‘A World Within a War’, the above lines taken from the title-poem. It is a time when every thought and action is “within a war” – even here in his idyllic countryside retreat. Read, born in Yorkshire, orphaned as a child, was, my research tells me, committed to the ‘people’s war’, the aim of which Evelyn Waugh said was to “direct the struggle for national survival into proletarian revolution”. He wrote theory on anarchism; was an art critic, championing Henry Moore and other modern artists; and co-founded the Institute of Contemporary Art as “an adult play-centre” and “a source of vitality and daring experiment”. Later in his life he accepted a very un-anarchist knighthood from the very un-anarchist Queen of England.
Written during the Battle of Dunkirk, May 1940