Battle of the Somme (1 July – 18 November 1916)

From: Penelope Fitzgerald – a Life (2013) by Hermione Lee:

“(Christina’s) father grieved over Edwin’s death and over the defection of his youngest son Ned, who, after being wounded on the Somme, converted to Roman Catholicism under the influence of Ronald Knox…When he gave her the choice in 1910 of being a “home-daughter” or having a career, she went to teach at St Felix School in Southwold. The Bishop approved of that as much as he did of her engagement to Eddie Knox, son of his old acquaintance, the Bishop of Manchester, in 1912.

Christina and Eddie met in Oxford, probably introduced by her younger brother Ned, who, at Magdalen School, had already brought home an admirer for his sister, his fellow chorister Ivor Novello, who on family holidays followed her about devotedly. Nobody wanted the engagement to be long. One sensible bishop’s wife, Mrs Hicks, conferred with the other, Mrs Knox: “Christina says…it does seem such a long time till May! She is anxious because he is lonely…” They were married in St Hugh’s Chapel in Lincoln Cathedral on 17 September 1912. It was a family affair. Her father-in-law-to-be, the Bishop of Manchester, officiated, assisted by the Reverend Ronald Knox, her new brother-in-law. The local papers made much of the event: “BISHOP’S SON WEDS BISHOP’S DAUGHTER”. Christina was described as an active supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, an amateur actress with a brilliant Oxford career…

Christina Hicks’s marriage, at twenty-seven, to Edmund George Valpy Knox, aged thirty-one, was a love match between two exceptional people…Beyond that close personal relationship, in marrying a Knox, Christina became part of a remarkable tribe.

…It was not the habit of the four brothers to show enthusiasm about their own work. That would have gone contrary both to their real modesty and to the Edwardian habit of understatement, the habit which called the massacre of the Somme “a show”, and an expensive lunch at Simpson’s “something to eat”.”

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