A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH - Before, Now & In-Between
A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH - Before, Now & In-Between

'I Shall Not Be Away Long'


A new book for 2020 is based on the letters of Charles Bartlett from the Group Photograph, described by Michael Morpurgo as 'Moving, Powerful, Important' and with a Foreword from William Boyd saying:


'This is not only a beautiful-looking book, generously and wonderfully illustrated, it is also a remarkable human document, as rich in detail and commentary on the human condition as a long novel. Tens of thousands of books have been written about the First World War and who would have thought that, over a hundred years since it ended, there was anything more to say. But ‘I Shall Not Be Away Long’ fully earns its place in the Pantheon of literature about the Great War. We come away from it amused, moved, informed, baffled, shocked, saddened and, with a bit of luck, wiser. It is a classic of its kind.'


Further details plus reviews, radio interviews, sample pages and a video flicking through the book are below but if you already know you want it:

Lt Col Charles Bartlett was a larger-than-life and slightly roguish infantry officer who served on the Western Front from August 1915 to March 1917. Not only are his letters almost completely uncensored and full of incident described with directness and bluff humour, but the people he mentions along the way give a full spectrum of supporting characters, from his actress wife and their friends on the West End stage, to soldiers noted for their heroism or eccentricity or insubordination or complicated love lives (or combinations of all of these), to men avoiding conscription, to spies, royalty and a newspaper magnate. The letters give a portrait of a man, a marriage, and a time of traumatic uncertainty. Charles Bartlett is not an exemplary hero, but his flaws make him all the more human as he struggles through leading his Battalion at the Battles of Loos and the Somme and the frights and labours of life on the Western Front.


I have presented the letters so that you see the originals and have a chance of feeling you’ve just opened them yourself. Insights and atmosphere come through pictures and details of the events, objects, people and places that Charles Bartlett encounters along the way, and behind it all has been the aim of giving voice to the variety of war experiences as well as showing how families dealt with their losses and what the survivors did with the rest of their lives.


This book is designed to be read alongside my first book ‘A Group Photograph – Before, Now & In-Between’. As well as having many characters in common, both books explore the same ideas of what it is like to be a human being in any time, how our beliefs and hopes compare to reality, and what remains of us after we are gone.


'It's a wonderful tribute and personalisation of a great historical event. It has all the marks of a true labour of love and a love of essential detail. I'm sure it will be treasured by all who read it.'

                               Melyvn Bragg


Compelling reading’ ‘Absolutely intriguing’ ‘Of human interest that we can all relate to as all our lives are more complex and nuanced than they might seem at first glance’

Helen Tovey, Editor of Family Tree magazine


‘The book is beautifully illustrated and the depth of research is most impressive’

Professor Ian Beckett, author of ‘The Great War’


‘The achievement of it, the depth, breadth, humanity, suspense (what on earth was Charles going to be up to next?), the 300-strong cast, the meticulousness, brilliant structure and design... It is a more than worthy sequel to ‘A Group Photograph’ and the two fit beautifully, seamlessly, together’

Patrick Miles, author of

‘George Calderon - Edwardian Genius’


You can get an idea of the content for yourself from:


464 pages, printed on quality paper in full-colour with a fully-sewn binding, 21 x 26.2 x 2.6 cm, ISBN 978-0-9935302-2-7 (9780993530227), published by Arvo Veritas.

Print Reviews


‘If there’s one book you read about the Great War during this time of remembrance, I heartily recommend this one.’                              – Britain at War magazine

‘Tatham does the roller-coaster ride of Bartlett’s life proper justice in an impeccably produced book.’
History of War magazine


Feature in the Telegraph Magazine:



'A revelatory gripping read' 'Andrew Tatham has discovered a new way of writing about the First World War and the result is both devastating and irresistible' 

- The Sunday Times          



5 STARS - 'It will make excellent reading for scholars of the conflict'                                   - Soldier magazine


BOOK OF THE WEEK - 'Andrew Tatham has produced a remarkable human document' - Country Life magazine


The letters are beautifully presented’ .. ‘As both a personal story and a record of the First World War, this book is an impressive piece of work’

The Genealogists’ Magazine
of the Society of Genealogists


'I Shall Not Be Away Long' is a fascinating insight into the life of a First World War officer, and beautifully designed to boot.'

- Who Do You Think You Are? magazine


Radio interviews


BBC Radio 4:


The Today Programme, 14th November 2020

(6 minutes)


RNIB Connect Radio:


The Daily Connect programme, 11th November 2020

(12 minutes)


BFBS Radio:


Hatch and Geere Breakfast, 10th November 2020

(11 minutes)

Readers' Comments


‘It feels like a fascinating exhibition in one’s own museum or gallery.’


It’s an incredible work of art and I wish history had been presented like this when I was at school.'


‘I haven't found such a rewarding read for some time.’


‘Even as I type my husband had disappeared into the loo clutching the book - I may never see him again!’


‘I don’t think that I have ever read a book in which I have been so gripped 99.9% of the times.’


'What a fantastic book!  It’s even better than I expected. The amount of research and information is amazing and so beautifully presented!!'


‘Like your previous book, A GROUP PHOTOGRAPH, this one is beyond words (but I am sure YOU could find some).’


‘Many, many thanks again for another beautiful book, packed with so much truth and history.’


Congratulations once again on your dedication and perseverance in producing such a wonderful and beautifully evocative personal history.  It captures perfectly the spirit of those days with its contrast of close family ties and the disruptive horrors of warfare.’


'Where to begin? A sequel, that in many ways surpasses “A Group Photograph”, giving further detail and background about many of the men mentioned there as well as scores of others. (Rather as Godfather II was seen by many as an even greater achievement than Godfather I.)’


'As someone who has seen service in Afghanistan I believe it important for war to be understood as an activity that is conducted by individual men and women who when they are killed or mutilated are not just “casualties” but individual human tragedies which echo down the years. Your books highlight this fact in a brilliant way and deserve a wide readership.'


'The graphics and layout make the book a work of art. One can appreciate why it isn't cheap!’


'A fascinating, different view of the war'


'I knew it was going to be a fantastic book having read (several times) A Group Photograph but with this latest book you have produced a truly unique masterpiece.'


'I think your book is simply remarkable and clearly a work of love. I know of no other collection of letters that is so well organized and illustrated.'


'The book itself is outstanding – beautifully illustrated and every page a revelation, the letters fascinating – but to me the extended research in every direction is amazing, and I envy you the excitement of discovery as you followed small clues to tell big stories.  It’s not just the war story of one local man, but a social history and coverage of the war at the front and at home. It’s all in the detail!’

‘Your book does record a unique time period in a unique way.’


'‘l Shall Not Be Away Long’ is a true Masterpiece.’


‘I enjoyed A Group Photograph but am completely bowled over by I Shall Not Be Long Away. It deserves to outsell Birdsong and all the other books written about The Great War.’


‘Worth every penny too...it’s a stunning book.’


I have read many, many books about the Great War and this is one of the very best.’


‘It is an eye opener, unlike anything I have ever read.’ 


‘It is entirely to your merit the creative and innovative way of presenting them, starting by transcribing them to make them easy to read, numbering them, adding notes and details to make them easier to understand.’


I actually enjoy more your commentary, which is spot on - scholarly, poignant and often funny. These make the book so much more than one man's letters to his wife.’


'What an extraordinary work - how many hours of work, beautifully laid out and annotated, and surely destined to be an essential work for future historians and enquiring readers. The mixture of the horror of war and the domestic mundanity of one individual wrapped up together doubles the impact; and on top of that, the lurking undercurrent of domestic disharmony.' 


'Your whole book, your research, your presentation are all truly extraordinary. The content of some of the letters is so mundane and is then juxtaposed with such utter horror that in some ways it is more effective than the war poetry.'


'I have read many published books of memoirs, diaries and letters. Your book is definitely at the top of my ‘best’ list'!


'It is one of the most extraordinary books about WW1 that I have read and I cannot put it down.'


'I have read a lot of material on the Great War and have walked a fair few of the battlefields. However, I cannot think of any work which has so clearly conveyed the combination of fear, horror, tedium and comradeship with which our soldiers had to live over such a long time.'


'This book is amazing. If it appears costly, just see what you get for your money. I am in awe of Andrew Tatham in view of the huge task it must have been. If your emotions are not stirred you have ceased to live!'

Buying 'I Shall Not Be Away Long’

I'm incredibly proud of 'I Shall Not Be Away Long'. I really don't think there's another book quite like it. It is a large high quality book of 464 pages, designed to transport you in time and to be kept as a reference.


Such a book is expensive to produce, particularly when independently publishing, and I am only able to offer it at a decent price by selling it myself through my website (for the economics of this see this document). 


It has over twice the number of pages of 'A Group Photograph' but at £29.50 inc P&P is only one and half times the price.

Currently in stock


Pick your postal location to find full price inc postage. (UK delivery is by 2nd class parcel)


(Note that Air Mail outside of Europe is expensive, so I have included a Surface Mail option, though instead of up to 7 days it will take from up to 42 days to USA to up to 84 days to Australia):


Postal Locations


If you don't want to use PayPal:

  • you can pay by cheque by printing off and posting me this form
  • or you can order via Amazon (though because of their fees it's slightly more expensive, and make sure to go through to my Amazon marketplace listing)


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