Page extent: 128
ISBN: 9781849433952
Binding: PaperBack

Journey's End: The Classic War Play Explored

Robert Gore-Langton


R C Sherriff’s Journey’s End is a syllabus text and the most famous play about World War One. First staged in 1928, this book tells the story of what went into the making of this extraordinary and powerful trench drama. It outlines Sherriff’s career from humble insurance clerk to infantry officer and his unforgettable 10 months on the western front before he was invalided home, lucky to be alive.  

Sherriff poured into his first professional play his personal experience of living in a front-line dug-out. Using his diary and letters home, the book charts his emotional life under fire and relates it directly to the play, its events and its characters.  It also tells the story of Journey’s End’s incredible box office success across the world, a triumph which made its shy young author famous overnight.

Taking in the history of the show right up to the most recent productions, Journey’s End: The Classic War Play Explored is a meditation on Journey’s End’s achievement as a war document, its fascination for audiences when it was first staged and its continuing grip on theatregoers and students today.

Additional Information

ISBN13 9781849433952
Binding PaperBack
Page Extent 128


'Gore-Langton supplies enough information to satisfy the theatrical connoisseur and be of use to school-pupils mugging up on this syllabus staple. But by retracing the journey Sherriff went on before he produced his epitaph for the lost generation he provides an illuminating route into the vast subject of the Great War itself. Furthermore the way in which he assesses the complex legacy of the play... contributes to the big debate as to how we should consider the conflict that rumbles on right up to this minute... The rest is theatrical history and Gore-Langton charts it all with respectful, awed aplomb.' Dominic Cavendish, Theatre Record

'The research is comprehensive and detailed, to the extent that this publication might appeal as much to those interested in the Great War as Sherriff's depiction of it. For theatre lovers, the story of how an unknown playwright managed first to get an initial production and then transform one of several plays in an almost identical genre that appeared practically at the same time into the most popular straight play of its era will fascinate.' British Theatre Guide

'Thoughtful and perceptive…. This is a book for anyone interested in the First World War narrative and, as the centenary of the war’s outbreak approaches in 2014, for students of theatre history and practitioners wanting to know more about interpretation. The book is also a good read' The Stage

'Robert Gore-Langton presents an attractive picture of Sherriff, whose papers he has studied exhaustively in the Surrey Record Office. An experienced drama critic, he is particularly illuminating on the theatrical history of the play. In a final chapter he traces the changes in interpretation with each major revival of Journey’s End since the 1950s... discovering profundities in the clownish Lieutenant Trotter, and demonstrating that despite Sherriff’s conservative adherence to values rooted in Edwardian England, the play, in the hands of a penetrating director, still has  new things to tell a 21st-century audience. No other British play about the Great War by a veteran has supplanted it. The Spectator

‘I have no hesitation in saying that Robert Gore-Langton’s new book brings a highly sharp and perceptive eye to R C Sherriff the man, the soldier, author and playwright… Journey’s End – The Classic War Play Explored is a skilled and valuable appraisal of the play and the major presentations which made and still burnish ‘Bob’ Sherriff’s reputation as Britain’s only worthwhile playwright of the Great War.’ David Filsell, Stand To!