Figure 1.--The Sassoon brothers and their father in 1895. Notice the different blouse and long curls worn by the Hamo, the younger brother, even though the boys are almost the same age.
Alfred Sassoon had three sons, Siegrried (b 1885), Michael (b. 1886), and Hamo (b. 1887). The photograph shows the boys and their father about 1895, several months before Alfred's untimely death,
Alfred and his wife were estranged. He spent most his time in London
where he was having an affair.
This photo shows the Sassoon brothers and their father about 1895.
The ages of the brothers range from 8-10 years. From left to right the
boys are Siegfried, Michael, and Hamo. I think the English must have
taken some pride in giving their youngest sons unusual names such as
Hamo. In this case the names probably relate to the German-Jewish origins
of the family.
The estrainged Mrs. Sassoon often had the boys wear fancy lace blouses when important people, including members of the royal family came to visit. From this I gathered that the Sassoons were a very well connected family although their Jewish origins may have affected the social circles in which they moved. They were part of British high society which would mean that they presumably was attuned to British fashion and would have ensured the children were correctly dressed. Their German connections may have meant that they were somewhat more atuned to continental fashion than many other contemporary English families.
The boys are apparently dressed for sports. The youngest, Hamo,
carries a tennis racket. All three of the boys in the photograph wear
white blouses, white shorts, and white shocks. I think they all wear
regular boys shoes although Hamo's and Michael's shoes can't
be seen in the photo. The shorts and shoes look rather modern.
The blouses look strangely out of place with the modern shorts and
shoes. The blouses show the Edwardian penchant for clothes carefully
graduated by age, kind of an evolutionary photo of upper class boys
styles. Even though the boys are relatively close in age, notice the
very different blouse style and hair do of Hamo. The older brothers
are only 1 and 2 years older than Hamo, but they have short hair and
regular front buttoning blouses. However, not only does Hamo
wear elaborate, but also carefully arranged ringlet curls,
but his blouse appears to button at the back, have smocking, and some lace work around the collar.
I'm not sure what was the customary dress for sport at the time.
Clearly it was much more elaborate and formal than modern sports
clothing. In addition, sport was still primarily an activity for the
wealthy or at least comfortable middle class families. Working class
families had little time for such frivolity. Thus the clothes
worn by the Sasoon boys could be an example of tennis fashions for
children at the turn of the century.
The youngest boy, Hamo, wears his hair
stangely done up on the top and in long ringlets, but without
bangs. The hair on the top of his head seems to be rolled into a large
curl held in place with hair pins. I would think from this hair style
that while in dresses, and probably later, he wore
hair bows or barettes at home to keep his hair in place.
Presumably the two oldest Sasson boys had already started at their boarding
preparatory schools and
were home for summer vacation. The younger boy,
Hamo, is pobably still at home and had not yet started school, explaing
his curls which his mother has not yet had cut.
There seems to be an close relationship amongst these upper class
English intellectuals. Siegfried was to become a decorated Captain in
World War I. He later became a celebrated poet and author. He also was a
close friernd of the notorious
Stephen Tennant and spent a great deal of time with him. This
occurred when Stephen was in his late teens and early twenties. At the
time Siegfried was already a famous poet. Siegfried eventually married
and settled down. He married Hester Gatty in, 1933 at Christ Church.
At least for the first years he was extremely happy with her. I believe
they had one son. I don't think their marriage made it through World
War II. His wife was apparently a rather plain looking woman. Siegfried
died in 1967 of natural causes.
The youngest brother, Hamo the boy in curls, was killed in World War
I at Galipoli--a disatrous British action against Turkey promoted by
Churchill. The charnage of World I and the impact on European nations is
difficult for most Americans to comprehend. It is remarkabe the number
accounts of Edwardian families which end by brothers being killed in the
War. The modern visitor to Britain (as well as New Zealand and Australia)
will almost always see two large books in virtually any church. Each
day a page is turned. The book is a list of the members of the parish
killed in the two wars. When one thinks that these books exist in
countless churches throughout the country--the emensity of the carnage
is brought home.
I have no information on Michael.
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