David Lynd’s letter in ATG asked for help to track down Keith Henderson's elusive ‘little book’.

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There is a book titled Letters to Helen. Impressions of an artist at the Western Front published by Chatto & Windus in 1917 which has the following preface: “These letters were never intended for publication.

“But when the pictures were brought back from France it was suggested that they should be reproduced, and a book evolved.

“Then a certain person (who shall be nameless) conceived the dastardly idea of exposing private correspondence to the public eye. He proved wilful in the matter, and this book came into the world.” It has 106 pages and 12 colour pictures, but alas not the drawing of Lt Nickalls shown in David Lynd’s letter.

The book starts on June 6, 1916, describing his departure to France. “Well, here we are in the slowest train that ever limped, and I’ve been to sleep for seven hours. The first good sleep since leaving England.

And now, as we’ve got twenty-eight hours to go still, there’s time to write a letter. The last three days’ postcards have been scrappy and unintelligible, but we departed without warning and with the most Sherlock Holmes secrecy. Not a word about which ports we were sailing from or to.”

Military censorship demanded no mention of place names, but this precious selection of an artist’s observations and descriptions is beautifully written and ends on April 6, 1917, on an aerodrome after the aeroplanes are returning from a bombing raid.

“No sign of Rupert yet. Probably he has landed at another aerodrome. Dear old Rupert. One of the very best in this world.

“He’ll be alright. Come on. It’s too cold. Let’s turn in.”

‘Helen’ was Helen Knox-Shaw, whom Henderson married in 1917.

Robin Batchelor

Thame, Oxon

Fine Art Society exhibition

Gordon Bennett Books I believe the book is Letters to Helen. Impressions of an Artist on the Western Front, published in 1917 by Chatto & Windus.

The book contains 12 colour-plates by Henderson, including the interior of an old château-farm in northern France, an explosion in an ammunition dump and a landscape near Ypres.

The text is of letters sent by Henderson between June 6, 1916 and April 6, 1917, to his wife Helen Knox-Shaw (1888-1971), who he married on July 4, 1917 at the Church of St Martin’s- in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London.

In June, 1917 Henderson held an exhibition at the Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London, titled Impressions of the Western Front, on which the Globe (June 23, 1917) wrote: “War is terrible, and although in these delicately-wrought drawings one still realises the terror, there is a subtle sense of the beautiful that even the horror of force in its most awful aspect cannot dispel.”

Anthony J Lester, FRSA

Fine art consultant and researcher on British artists