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1001 Stories Collection

Journey's End

1001 Journeys End
Added on 06th August 2020

Author R.C. Sheriff
First performed 1928 by the Incorporated Stage Society

A powerful play set in the trenches of the First World War.

Story

It is the First World War, and Raleigh, 18 years old and fresh out of school, finds himself in the trenches on the Western Front. There, he joins the motley company of his old school hero, Stanhope, now a captain, but finds him tragically altered by the harsh realities of war.

Why we chose it

A powerful anti-war drama set in the trenches in World War 1, Journey’s End condemns war and the damage it does whilst remembering the camaraderie of the trenches and paying tribute to those who lost their lives.

Where it came from

Robert Cedric Sherriff (1896 – 1975) was an English playwright and screenwriter. After school, Sherriff worked for his father’s insurance business, but volunteered for the army shortly after the outbreak of the First World War. He served as a captain in the East Surrey Regiment, and after the war he used his experiences on the front line to write Journey’s End. The play was initially rejected by many, but eventually it was given a single performance by the Incorporated Stage Society in 1928, in which Lawrence Olivier played Captain Stanhope.

Where it went next

Journey’s End was an instant hit in London, unexpectedly running for 595 performances. Its success enabled Sherriff to become a fulltime writer. Reviews praised its unflinching portrayal of the trenches and the effects of the war on the men who fought it. It is a complex story. Journey’s End achieved popularity at the same time as All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and Goodbye to All That by Robert Graves. Like these books, Journey’s End seemed to say the war was a pointless waste of young men’s lives. However Sherriff wanted too to pay tribute to those served and to the comradeship he himself experienced in France. Journey’s End has been staged countless times. It has also been adapted for the screen, including a film in 1930, directed by James Whale, and one in 2017, directed by Saul Dibb.

Associated stories

R. C. Sherriff went on to write several more plays, but was arguably more successful as a screenwriter, for which he was BAFTA and Academy Award nominated. His screen plays include The Invisible Man (1933), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), and The Dam Busters (1955). Journey’s End also inspired other writers, including Noel Coward, who wrote his own play Post-Mortem (1930) after playing Captain Stanhope.

Added on 06th August 2020

Author R.C. Sheriff
First performed 1928 by the Incorporated Stage Society