Owen died aged 25 on 4th November 1918, a week before the end of
the Great War.
was completely unknown at the time of his death with only five of
his poems having been published.
he became one of the most popular poets of the 20th Century and
is now the national poet of war.
For decades very little was known about Owen's life as his public
image was firmly controlled by his family and friends, not least
by his brother Harold, who was obsessed by class, personal failure
and terror lest anyone should suspect Wilfred of having been gay.
partly because of the myths surrounding him that Owen was seen as
a typical soldier. In this new biography, the author, Dominic Hibberd
makes it clear that Wilfred Owen was anything but typical.
Owen, born in 1893 in Oswestry, Shropshire, joined up in 1915 and
was sent to the front in 1917 as an officer with the Manchester
horrors he endured whilst fighting near the Somme in bitter winter
conditions inspired some of his greatest poems.
a letter to his mother, he described his experience as "seventh
Hibberd, an acknowledged authority on Wilfred Own, has discovered
new information at virtually every point in Owen's life, refashioning
and reinterpreting what is known about the First World War's greatest
poet - the reality of his childhood and his work as a pupil-teacher;
the Evangelical pressures on him from 1911 -13 when he worked as
a parish assistant; his time in France where he was a tutor and
began to develop as a poet; his joining-up in 1915; his terrible
experiences at the Front in 1917 and the question over his shellshock
and the accusation of cowardice; his time at Craiglockhart where
he met Siegfried Sassoon who encouraged him directly to write about
the war; his time at Scarborough (1917-1918) where he found his
mature voice as a poet; his sexual orientation and gay friends in
London; and his final months in France, a victory for him as a man
and as a poet, as well as a tragedy.
whose work did not achieve widespread fame until the 1960s, was killed
leading his men in an attempt to bridge the Oise-Sambre canal under
Dominic Hibberd's biography
His family were given the news a week later, on 11th November 1918.
the day the war ended.
"As the bells celebrating the armistice were ringing in Shrewsbury,
the postman arrived to give his parents the telegram," said
Peter Owen, Wilfred's nephew.
Illustrated with over 50 photographs, eight maps and several drawings,
this fascinating and compelling biography brings the reader much closer
than ever before to the real Wilfred Owen, a complex, endearing and
deeply impressive man.