Basil Blackwood

Basil Blackwood, the third son of the Marquess of Dufferin, was born in 1870. He became a close friend of Hilaire Belloc, while the men were students at Oxford University.

Although Blackwood became a solicitor, he also illustrated several of Belloc's books including The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896), More Beasts (1897), The Modern Traveller (1898), A Moral Alphabet (1899), Cautionary Tales for Children (1907) and More Peers (1911).

On the outbreak of the First World War, Blackwood became a Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. Basil Blackwood was killed in action in 1917.

Primary Sources

(1) Basil Blackwood, letter to Hiliare Belloc (15th October, 1915)

Many of the German guns have a range of eight miles, shells fall so impartially they can't be dodged, one must simply wait with resignation what fate has in store. The most horrible scene I have witnessed was one that followed the explosion of two shells of the largest calibre on our billets killing 24 and wounding 20. I was on the spot and helped to remove the shattered debris. I shall never forget the hateful sight or the long drawn out melancholy business of digging graves and giving the 18 bodies of the others Christian burial - nor shall I forget the idiotic address of the military chaplain who was brought up from the neighbouring hospital for the purpose.

I must tell you that your articles in Land and Water are enormously appreciated here by soldiers and it occurred to me at once to suggest to you that it might be worth your while to get the job of writing the official history. I expect it would be a gold-mine and one of the works which will live for ever.