Hester Gatty

Siegfried Sassoon had a number of homosexual affairs during his lifetime, one that lasted longer than any other was with Stephen Tennant, the youngest son of Scots peer Lord Glenconner. The relationship lasted from 1927 to 1933, when Tennant finally put an end to it.

Hester Gatty, (right) who had two brothers, Richard and Oliver, was the daughter of the barrister, Stephen Gatty, who was later knighted and took up the position of Chief Justice of Gibraltar. Edith Olivier introduced Sassoon to Hester in 1933 and to the surprise of many people, they were married later the same year. In 1936 they had a son, George, but the marriage would not last. Sassoon, too used to living on his own terms felt smothered by Hester’s attention and in 1945 they had separated, Hester leaving the family home, Heytesbury  House, in Wiltshire, eventually to live on the island of Mull.

The books on this page all belonged to Hester Gatty, most coming from the auction of books belonging to George Sassoon after his death in 2006.

Hester Gatty

Matthew and the Miller

Matthew and the Miller, a novel by Violet Bradby. Published in 1909 by Blackie and Son Ltd.

The inscription on the front endpaper (right) reads: “To Miss Hester Gatty with love from K. M. Bennett. July 8th 1914. A small prize for a good girl.”


Matthew and the Miller Inscription

In Quest of a Kingdom

In Quest of a Kingdom, a novel by Samuel Walkey. Published in 1919 by Cassell and Company Ltd.

The inscription on the front endpaper (right) reads: “Hester from O. Xmas 1919.” ‘O’, being Hester’s brother, Oliver.


In Quest of a Kingdom Inscription

Golden Bells

Golden Bells or Hymns for Our Children - A collection of 628 hymns for children, published around 1909 by the Children’s Special Service Mission.  The inscription reads:

“Hester Gatty from Mummy October 1909.”

Golden Bells Inscription

Ventures In Verse

Ventures in Verse by Members of the Scratch Society - A collection of 31 poems published around 1924 by Arthur H. Stockwell. This seems to have been a group of quite well-off but amateur poets and story writers who formed this society and occasionally got their work into print. Hester Gatty was a member of the society and she has three poems in this book, “From the Hebrides,” “Tired” and “Moon-Beam.” The inscription reads:

“Hester Gatty 1924.”

Ventures In Verse Inscription


Old English Love Songs and Madrigals - A collection of songs published in 1926 by Philip Allan & Co. Ltd. The inscription reads:

“Hester Gatty 1926”

Madrigals Inscription

Collected Poems of Edith Sitwell

Collected Poems of Edith Sitwell - Published in 1930 by Duckworth, the book, which has an errata slip pasted in, must have been a review copy as the signature is 1929 and the publisher’s date is 1930. The inscription reads:

 “Hester Gatty 1929”

Collected Poems Inscription

The Nature of the Universe

The Nature Of The Universe, by Fred Hoyle. Published in 1950 by Basil Blackwell, Oxford.

This book belonged to Hester after she was married and she has written her name on the front endpaper, (right) “Hester Sassoon.” This is quite unusual as I have only ever come across her books where she has signed them using her maiden name, Hester Gatty, before she was married.

Hester Sassoon Signature

Mont Saint Michel - By Sir Stephen Gatty

Mont Saint Michel


A little off topic here as this is not a book, however, this lovely watercolour painting has a very close connection to Siegfried Sassoon as it was painted in 1876 by his future father-in-law, Sir Stephen Gatty. The picture is signed and dated as can be seen, above right. I had the picture mounted and framed after I bought it.

Sir Stephen Gatty 1849-1922, was the Chief Justice of Gibraltar 1895-1905, and the father of Hester Gatty who married Siegfried Sassoon in 1933.

The Book Of Common Prayer - From the Library of George Sassoon

The Book of Common Prayer

The Book Of Common Prayer - This book is inscribed “George Sassoon from his loving mother. 1950”.

George (1936 - 2006), was the only son of Siegfried Sassoon and this book was given to him by his mother, Hester Sassoon (nee Gatty).

The Book Of Common Prayer Inscription

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