The remarkable thing about the book's success is that, prior to its publication, Sassoon's reputation rested entirely on his poetry, mostly written during and about World War I. Only ten years after the war ended, after some experience of journalism, did he feel ready to branch out into prose. So uncertain was he of the wisdom of this move that he elected to publish MFHM anonymously. It is in effect the autobiography of his early years, but is presented in the form of a novel, with false names being given to the central characters, including Sassoon himself, who appears as "George Sherston", and his mother ("Aunt Evelyn").
The title is somewhat misleading, as the book is mainly concerned with a series of landmark events in Sassoon's childhood and youth (such as his first riding lesson and a particularly important cricket match), and his encounters with various comic characters. It is an intensely humorous work, in which fox-hunting, which had been one of Sassoon's major interests, merely represents the young man's happy-go-lucky frame of mind in the years before war broke out. The book ends with his enlistment in a local regiment. The story is continued in two sequels: Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and Sherston's Progress.