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Sir John Collings Squire


Biography of Sir John Collings Squire

Sir John Collings Squire (2 April 1884 – 20 December 1958) was a British poet, writer, historian, and influential literary editor of the post-World War I period.

Born in Plymouth, he was educated at Blundell's School and St. John's College, Cambridge. He was one of those published in the Georgian poetry collections of Edward Marsh. His own Selections from Modern Poets anthology series, launched in 1921, became definitive of the conservative style of Georgian poetry.

He began reviewing for The New Age; through his wife he had met Alfred Orage. His literary reputation was first made by a flair for parody, in a column Imaginary Speeches in The New Age from 1909.

His poetry from World War I was satirical; at the time he was reviewing for the New Statesman, using the name Solomon Eagle (taken from a Quaker of the seventeenth century) - one of his reviews from 1915 was of The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence. Squire had been appointed literary editor when the New Statesman was set up in 1912;[3] he was noted as an adept and quick journalist, at ease with contributing to all parts of the journal. He was acting editor of the New Statesman in 1917-18, when Clifford Sharp was in the British Army, and more than competently sustained the periodical. When the war ended he found himself with a network of friends and backers, controlling a substantial part of London's literary press.

From 1919 to 1934, Squire was the editor of the monthly periodical, the London Mercury. It showcased the work of the Georgian poets and was an important outlet for new writers. Alec Waugh described the elements of Squire's 'hegemony' as acquired largely by accident, consequent on his rejection for military service for bad sight. Squire's natural persona was of a beer-drinking, cricketing West Countryman; his literary cricket XI, the Invalids, were immortalised in A. G. Macdonell's England, Their England, with Squire as Mr. William Hodge, editor of the London Weekly. In July 1927 he became an early radio commentator on Wimbledon.

In his book If It Had Happened Otherwise (1931) he collected a series of essays, many of which could be considered alternative histories, from some of the leading historians of the period (like Hilaire Belloc and Winston Churchill[); in America it was published that same year in somewhat different form under the title If: or, History Rewritten.

Squire was knighted in 1933, and after leaving the London Mercury in 1934, he became a reader for Macmillans, the publishers; in 1937, he became a reviewer for the Illustrated London News.

His eldest son was Raglan Squire, an architect known for his work at Rangoon University in the 1950s, as the architect for the conversion of the houses in Eaton Sq, London into flats thus ensuring the preservation of that great London Square, and many buildings including offices and hotels in the Middle East and elsewhere. His second son was Antony Squire, a pilot film director (The Sound Barrier). His third son Maurice was killed in the Second War while his youngest daughter Julia Baker (née Squire) was a costume designer for theatre and cinema. She married the actor George Baker.Obituary.

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