Drawing of Sherriff’s servant Morris, c.1916 (SHC ref 2332/3/9/3/3)

Drawing of Sherriff’s servant Morris, c.1916 (SHC ref 2332/3/9/3/3)

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.

Sherriff in his East Surrey uniform, c.1918 (SHC ref 2332/6/4/2/2/1)

Sherriff in his East Surrey uniform, c.1918
(SHC ref 2332/6/4/2/2/1)

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.

Download a pdf (PDF) copy of the original exhibition panel.

Click on the links below to see the exhibition text and images:

To Journey’s End and Beyond: The Exhibition

The Man Behind Journey’s End

R C Sherriff’s Family Background

Sherriff and Kingston Grammar School

Sherriff and the Artists Rifles

Sherriff with the 9th East Surreys

A Star is Born

The Making of a Playwright

The 1930s: Sherriff’s Golden Decade

Man of Letters: Sherriff’s Later Career

The Curtain Comes Down