Arthur Wheen was an Australian who escaped the parochialism of Sydney in the 1920s to live his life in England, after arriving on a Rhodes Scholarship. His brilliance as a writer and linguist was recognised by the wide acclaim that followed his 1929 translation from German of the classic, All Quiet on the Western Front. The book's author, Erich Maria Remarque, credited Wheen with a "sensitive artistry (that) turned the translation into an original." These qualities, together with wit and eloquence, also characterised the many letters treasured by his family and friends. As a young soldier in the AIF during World War I, Wheen was admired for his compassion and his unusual courage on the battlefield and was honoured for conspicuous gallantry. After the war, his interest in literature and the arts drew him into a circle of avant-garde writers, critics and artists, including T.S. Eliot, Herbert Read and David Jones. As Keeper of the Library at the Victoria and Albert Museum for more that twenty years, he used his knowledge of history and languages to broaden and enhance the museum's collection of publications on aesthetics and the philosophy of art.
This is the story, told through letters, of one man's war and his slow struggle out of the trenches towards peace - a peace soon shattered by personal loss and Hitler's advance. It is also the story also of a special relationship between father and daughter.