My Religion

My Religious Experience, by Hugh Walpole

In 1926 the London Daily Express commissioned and published a collection of sixteen essays on religion by well-known people (mostly authors) including Arnold Bennett, Hugh Walpole, Rebecca West; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Compton Mackenzie, J.D. Beresford; Israel Zangwill, H deVere Stacpoole, Henry Arthur Jones, and several prominent clergy.

After the essays were published in the Daily Express, the publisher Hutchinson & Co. collated them together into a book called My Religion. The New York times said of the book in it’s review on the 18th April 1926:

Somebody had a brilliant and fruitful idea when he conceived this little book, wherein a group of famous English authors discuss their religion. Its most outstanding feature is the sincerity and frankness with which one dives down into his soul, searches for the absolute truth concerning his attitude toward all that is meant by the word “religion” and puts it into simple, concise words.

Hugh Walpole’s contribution to the collection of essays delves into the effect of the cruel bullying he experienced during his school years, and the experiences Hugh encountered when working with the Red Cross recovering bodies from the battlefields of World War one, had on his spiritual life.

Like millions of others, I, who had never before seen more than the death of a bird, witnessed day after day every kind of horror; indeed I believe that the retreat of the Russion Army back to Tarnopol in the second year of the war offered even more persistent experiences of horror, distress and wasted life than many other phases of the war.

And yet undoubtedly the main experience that I got from the war was the unimportance of physical death. Again and again and again it was impressed on me, whether I wished it or not, that the cessation of bodily life did not mean the cessation of spiritual life.

With thanks to David Wales for the reading. The full audiobook containing all the essays from the other contributing authors can be found here at Librivox.


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