Studdert Kennedy, better known by his nickname of ‘Woodbine Willie’ was a vicar in Worcester and the most famous chaplain of the First World War. He received the Military Cross in 1917 for bravery – retrieving the wounded from ‘no man’s land’ during battle. Even now, his life and writings inspire people to ponder war, life and religious belief.
The four clergy of the Cathedral, along with the Bishop of Worcester, Dr Mark Dorsett of the King’s School and Dr David Bryer, lay canon of the Cathedral and former director of Oxfam, have each written a chapter of the book, which invites readers to consider different aspects of the First World War in the light of faith. Andrew G. Studdert Kennedy, Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy's grandson (pictured in the group photo far right), has written the foreword.
Canon Michael Brierley, one of the editors, said:
‘We’re delighted to have produced this, and hope that it will be of interest to local historians, faith communities and people more generally interested in the First World War.’
The book was launched today at the Three Choirs Festival in College Hall. The book is available in the Cathedral shop, priced at £15 (RRP £24).
The book has already had strong endorsements from noted scholars of the First World War:
"Padres were given a rough ride by British memoir writers of the First World War. However, Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, 'Woodbine Willie' to the soldiers, demonstrates how wrong they were. His reflections on the war and its implications for his own Christian faith resonate to this day. The innumerable insights in this powerful book make plain how the conflict's spiritual challenge still reverberates."
\--Sir Hew Strachan, author of the Oxford University Press history of the First World War
"Michael Brierley and Georgina Byrne have judiciously gathered these measured essays on ministry, suffering, tragedy, and hope: they leave the reader more immersed in sadness, admiration, desolation, and ultimately faith. After all, if Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy's life was a failure, so was that of Jesus."
\--Sam Wells, Vicar, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London
"Life after Tragedy is a profound and moving account of the struggle of Christian theology with the ravages of the First World War. . . . Essential reading for anyone trying to understand the earthquake that was the Great War."
\--Jay Winter, Yale University
"A significant contribution to the flourishing revisionist scholarship on religion and war, the central essays in this volume . . . offer a set of moving, often provocative reflections on the complex and transformative relations between faith and suffering that are as relevant now as they have ever been."
\--Sue Morgan, University of Chichester, UK