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'The Hessian Prisoner'
Page Count
Word Count
Fortnightly Review
Auckland Star
Telegraph (Brisbane)
Publication Year
Document Types
Original Manuscript (mss)
War, Youth

London: William Jackson Ltd., 1930 (No. 2 of the Furnival Books).
Foreword by Edward Garnett (pp. 7-10, attached). Drawing by John Austen.

In The Vanished World (p. 95) Bates writes of a German prisoner-of-war who assisted a local farmer in 1916; 'I taught him a few rudimentary words of English. Perhaps it isn't altogether odd that I should remember Johann with such clarity and some affection, since I have over and over again been convinced that this young fair pawn, one of millions moved remorselessly hither and thither in a bloody game of chess, sowed in my mind the first of my doubts on war's futilities. We all grew very fond of Johann and he of us.'

Johann in this story is a lively, humorous, and strong young man who misses his mother and homeland, quickly melts the distrust of his aged English 'masters,' and becomes loved by them as a son.

A holograph manuscript is held in the collection of the Cushing Memorial Library, Texas A&M University, USA (https://catalog.library.tamu.e...).


  • Times Literary Supplement (March 27, 1930, p. 268, Orlo Williams, attached).

In The Black Boxer Tales (1932), Thirty Tales (1934), The Bride Comes to Evensford and Other Tales (1949). Reprinted in Fortnightly Review (March 1931), The Furnival Book of Short Stories (1932).

An abridged version with the title 'The Prisoner' was reprinted in the Telegraph (Brisbane, June 7, 1934, p. 15), The Auckland Star (September 4, 1934, p. 15).


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.