The Tears of War

The Tears of War

The Story of a Young Poet and a War Hero

by May Wedderburn Cannan and Bevil Brian Quiller-Couch

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Published on 1st July 2000 to coincide with the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, ‘The Tears of War’ is the passionate and true love story of First World War poet May Wedderburn Cannan and an artillery officer Bevil Quiller-Couch.
May Wedderburn Cannan wrote three volumes of poetry which were published by Blackwell during and after the war.

May was the daughter of Charles Cannan, Dean of Trinity College, Oxford and Secretary of the Delegates to the Oxford University Press. He was also in charge at OUP from 1895 until his death in 1919.

Bevil Quiller-Couch, son of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (known as Q) was at Trinity College, Oxford before joining up as a special reservist and fought as an artillery officer throughout the war continuously from 1914 to 1918.

Within days of the Armistice Bevil found May in Paris and asked her to marry him. They had barely three weeks together before Bevil marched his Battery into Germany and died there in the great flu epidemic of 1919, just two weeks before he was due to be demobilised.

The book tells their story through May’s poems, extracts from her autobiography (originally published in 1976) and through Bevil’s letters. An extraordinary personal memoir which gives fascinating glimpses into life for a young woman at the hub of literary society in Oxford during the war and of a young man and his experience of war and love.