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The Last to Fall: The Life & Letters of Ivor Hickman

The Last to Fall: The Life & Letters of Ivor Hickman


By John L. Wainwright
Hatchet Green Publishing
ISBN: 978-0956837219
January 23, 2012
300 pages

Tucked away by the side door of a College in Winchester there is a modest oak bench with a small and rarely-noticed memorial plaque to the memory of 'I. R. Hickman, a boy at this school between 1924 and 1933'. But who was I. R. Hickman? As John Wainwright reveals, he was a student who went on to win a scholarship to Cambridge to study under Ludwig Wittgenstein, only then to lay down his life in the fight against fascism during the closing moments of the Spanish Civil War. With exclusive access to the letters that Ivor sent to his wife from the front, as well as a number of detailed interviews with International Brigade veterans and Ivor's own family, the author pieces together the lost life of Ivor Hickman, revealing the idealism, the conviction, and ultimately the tragedy of an International Brigader in Spain – a compelling story that has at last been rescued from the past.

“I stand a moderately good chance of going back to England (that's quite honest) but somebody's got to be killed and this death business isn't dealt out fairly or honestly. Anyway, it's not really important. It's important to me because I have so many things to do yet...” 

– Ivor R. Hickman (Spain, June 1938)


'Wainwright’s work takes the reader through the brief life of this almost forgotten Spanish Civil War volunteer. The letters Hickman wrote to his wife both during their courtship and his time in Spain are the focal point of this work. [...] Hickman’s letters are introspective and contain less of the propaganda element many other volunteers interjected into their memoires and correspondence. Despite self-censorship, and strike-outs by the censors, Hickman provides a very human portrait of his service in Spain and Wainwright provides context, adding short biographical sketches, either in the text or in footnotes, of volunteers Hickman mentions in his letters. This element is strengthened by Wainwright’s inclusion of photographs of the volunteers when available. Additionally he includes relevant primary sources and provides transcriptions. Wainwright’s extensive research is evident and his narrative is engaging.  This book is a must read and is a worthy addition to Spanish Civil War libraries.' 

– Chris Brooks, The Volunteer.