T. H. White’s first five novels, one of which was written in collaboration with R. McNair Scott and two of which were concealed under the pseudonym James Aston, were all naturalistic. White wrote his first novel—They Winter Abroad—under the pseudonym Aston. This work is of some interest for the insight it offers into his youthful state of mind. Also as Aston he published his second novel, First Lesson. His first novel as White was Darkness at Pemberley. All three novels were published in 1932. The only one of White’s novels from this period that is now remembered is his nostalgic panorama of the Victorian era, Farewell Victoria; it is also the only one not solidly rooted in his own experiences.
Earth Stopped and Gone to Ground
Earth Stopped is a satiric comedy paying respectful homage to the works of English novelist Robert Smith Surtees, whose addiction to hunting, shooting, and fishing was shared by White. White’s similarly addicted friend, Siegfried Sassoon, had introduced him to a reprint of Surtees’ 1845 novel Hillingdon Hall in 1931. Sassoon’s autobiographical novel Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (1928) reflects sarcastically on the fact that he had been sent to a sanatorium to save him from a court-martial when he refused to return to the front after being wounded in action in 1917; his influence on White’s attitudes was profound.
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