How Dear is Life (1954) was the fourth entry in Henry Williamson's fifteen-volume A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight spanning the years from the late Victorian period to the Second World War. It finds Phillip Maddison in the portentous months leading to the outbreak of war in 1914. Now a clerk in the Moon Fire Office, Phillip decides to join the territorials - attracted by the money, the camp near the sea, and the prospect of a new suit of clothes. As a glorious summer slips away war seems unreal; but the old world is in peril, and before long the British Expeditionary Force is setting sail for France. "Williamson's style is romantic, though rarely sentimental, and his sensuous response to nature is fresh and surprising." (Anthony Burgess, Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939).