The vigie on the island of Port Cros where the poet Richard Aldington stayed in 1928 with his partner of ten years and his new lover, along with D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda. It was here that Aldington started to write his novel of the war, 'Death of a Hero'.

photo of Viv 2I was educated at a boarding school in Devon and at Bedford College London. I taught English and Media Studies in secondary schools and F.E. colleges in England and Wales for nearly forty years and settled permanently in Suffolk in 1995. I am married with two adult children.  Since retirement from teaching in 2006, I have been able to pursue my life-long interest in the history and literature of the First World War as well as my ambition to write literary biography.  I have an M.A. in War Studies from King’s College London and have conducted battlefield tours on the Western Front for several years.  I began my belated ‘literary career’ by publishing two monographs in the Cecil Woolf War Poets series, one on a minor poet, Leslie Coulson, and the other (in collaboration with my brother, the naval historian David Childs) on the poetry of the Gallipoli Campaign. I have contributed articles to the War Poetry Review, Stand To! The Use of English, Despatches and the Wilfred Owen Association and Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship journals.

I began work on Richard Aldington, Poet, Soldier and Lover in 2009 and it was shortlisted for the Biographers' Club Tony Lothian Prize in 2011.

A member of The Society of Authors and The Biographers’ Club, I am also an active member of The Wilfred Owen Association, The Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship, The Western Front Association and the Guild of Battlefield Guides. Apart from reading and visiting northern France, my leisure interests include fell-walking and, closer to home, walking in the Suffolk countryside and on the coast. I enjoy the cinema (and miss teaching film), the theatre, ballet and folk music.

Currently, I am conducting on behalf of the Western Front Association and in association with the tour company ‘Battle Honours’, a series of battlefield tours to explore the nature of the various conflicts in which the First World War combatant poets took part and the roles they played, and to use this context to explore the verse they wrote and its relationship with the times, places and circumstances in which it was written. The 2015 tour will visit the battlefields of Loos and Cambrai to explore the experiences in these two sectors of Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon, Charles Sorley, Edmund Blunden, Ivor Gurney and Richard Aldington.  In 2016 we shall focus on the Somme, where a number of fine poets, not all familiar ones, fought and in some cases lost their lives.  The 2017 and 2018 tours will be devoted to the battlefield experiences of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen respectively; our 2018 tour will end, poignantly, on the bank of the Sambre-Oise canal, exactly one hundred years from the date on which Owen was killed. For more information, please visit

Singer Once

Leslie Coulson: A Singer Once,
(2008), 7.00; and British and
Irish Poets of the Gallipoli
Campaign, 1915: Heirs of
(2010), 9.50. Price
inclusive of postage, obtainable
from Cecil Woolf, 1 Mornington
Place, London, NW1 7RP