Ross, had now taken it upon himself to push forward Sassoon’s literary career and introduced him to William Heinemann who expressed a desire to publish Sasoon’s poems. A contract was agreed and Sassoon began to choose the first of his poems to be published by the well-known company of Heinemann. Ross now began to have an even more significant effect on Sassoon’s work by encouraging him to write poetry critical of the military hierarchy. Ross particularly disliked the military mandarins and the complacency rife in the country.
Although critical of the war, Ross was very unhappy when he heard about Sassoon’s protest and his refusal to return to the front. He wrote:
“I am quite appalled by what you have done. I can only hope that the C.O. at Litherland will absolutely ignore your letter. I am terrified lest you should be put under arrest.”
As we know, Sassoon was not arrested, but sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh, supposedly suffering from shell-shock. There he met the emerging poet, Wilfred Owen on whose work Sassoon had such a great influence. When they parted, Sassoon gave Owen a letter of introduction to Ross and a ten pound note. Later, Owen stayed at Half Moon Street, where Ross introduced him to a number of important literary figures including Edward Marsh.
In 1918, Ross was preparing to travel to Melbourne, Australia to open an exhibition at the National Gallery when he died suddenly, an event which caused great grief to his many friends. In 1950, on the 50th anniversary of Wilde's death, Ross's ashes were added to Wilde's tomb in the eLe Pre Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.
I have recently been fortunate enough to obtain a letter (below) written by Robert Ross from 40, Half Moon Street. The letter does not mention Sassoon, however it does mention Nellie Burton and also contains some very interesting and vivid desriptions of life during the First World War German blitz of London.