Frank Prewett

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Frank James Prewett (February 24, 1893 - February 16, 1962) was a Canadian poet, who spent most of his life in the United Kingdom. He was a war poet of World War I, and was taken up by Siegfried Sassoon. After a period of being lionised socially he led a mainly unsatisfactory life, suffering from bad health.

He was born near Mount Forest, Ontario and brought up on a farm near Kenilworth, Ontario. He hinted that he had an Iroquois background on his mother's side; this was once accepted in his version, but has been questioned by later scholarship. In 1915 he left his studies at the University of Toronto and enlisted as a private soldier in the Canadian Army. Later he was offered and accepted a commission in the British Army, serving in the Royal Field Artillery. He served in France, but was invalided out of the armed forces in 1917. It was at Lennel Auxiliary Hospital, a sister hospital to Craiglockhart War Hospital that he met Sassoon, who paints a brief portrait of him in Siegfried's Journey,[1] his autobiography. Sassoon introduced him to Lady Ottoline Morrell and he stayed at Garsington, her estate, while he awaited repatriation to Canada.[2] While in Canada, Prewett maintained a regular correspondence with Lady Ottoline (Darroch 215). And when he returned to England he was offered a job at Garsington, but "he fell under suspicion of keeping back farm earnings" (Darroch, 233) and "Toronto," (the nickname given him by Sassoon) was asked to leave.

He had an academic job from the mid-1920s to 1934 in an agricultural research institute. He married, but the marriage failed; on Sassoon's evidence he was a depression sufferer.

His poetry was recognised by inclusion in the final Georgian Poetry anthology and Oxford Poetry, and by publication by the Hogarth Press; followed by a collection The Rural Scene in 1922. In the 1930s he was a BBC broadcaster and did editorial work. A historical novel set in Berkshire in the times of Captain Swing, The Chazzey Tragedy (1933), made little impact. He was married again, to Dorothy Pollard who was a colleague on the editorial staff of The Countryman magazine where he was working.

During World War II he served in the RAF, staying on in the Air Ministry until 1954. Retiring because of poor health, he farmed near Abingdon until his death in Inverness.

Robert Graves, a friend from Oxford days, edited his Collected Poems,[3] published in 1964. Graves' Introduction to the Collected (xvii-ix) provides the longest printed account of Prewett's life available. A Selected Poems was published in 1987.


  1. ^ Siegfried Sassoon, Siegfried's Journey (1946; rpt London: White Lion Publishers, 1972, pp. 75-6.
  2. ^ Sandra Jobson Darroch, Ottoline (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1975), p. 210.
  3. ^ Frank Prewett, Collected Poems (London:Cassell, 1964).

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