Sherriff later used his letters for inspiration when writing Journey’s End. His servant Morris appears to have been the basis for the character of Mason. Like his fictional counterpart Morris tried and often failed to keep his officers well fed in the face of erratic food supplies and rats. Sherriff enjoyed chronicling Morris’s various culinary gaffs in his letters home and described him as being a: “humourist” who helped him to cope with the stresses of the front line. Similarly Mason offers nuggets of light relief in Journey’s End which stop the play’s growing sense of tension from peaking prematurely.
A more complex parallel exists between the character of Hibbert and Sherriff himself. In a letter of 25 January 1917 Sherriff reported that he was suffering from attacks of neuralgia. Further letters show that he endured more attacks during the summer, and it plagued him in August 1917 while receiving hospital treatment in England for battle wounds. Hibbert also complains of suffering from neuralgia in Journey’s End. As he is one of the less sympathetic characters in the play, this suggests that Sherriff did not consider himself to be heroic in any way.
Click on the links below to see the exhibition text and images: