Cover image for Great poets of World War I : poetry from the great war
Great poets of World War I : poetry from the great war
Stallworthy, Jon.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll and Graf, [2002]

Physical Description:
192 pages : illustrations, facsimiles, portraits ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR106 .S82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PR106 .S82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In times of war and national calamity--writes Jon Stallworthy in his illuminating survey of the lives and work of twelve celebrated war poets--large numbers of people seldom seen in church or bookshop will turn for consolation and inspiration to religion and poetry. Never more so than in World War I did the poignant poetry of hundreds of young men scarred by battle reach so large and eager an audience. Among the most famous and memorable of these youthful voices were those of the strikingly handsome, golden-haired, nobly patriotic Rupert Brooke, dead at twenty-eight; the serious-minded, poignantly truthful Wilfred Owen, who was shot down, at twenty-five; and the defiant Siegfried Sassoon whose gallantry in the Somme Offensive earned him the Military Cross and nickname Mad Jack. Profiled in this volume, too, and illustrated throughout with photographs of the action they saw and manuscripts of the poems they wrote are Edmund Blunden, whose work is haunted by the war until his death in 1974; Isaac Rosenberg, the painter who captured the absurdity and horror of war in words; along with Julian Grenfell, Edward Thomas, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Frances Ledwidge, Ivor Gurney, David Jones, and Robert Graves. With access to the archives of the Imperial War Museum and its wide collection of rare color and black-and-white photographs, this volume beautifully combines art, poetry, biography, and the tragic, noble, bleak, and confounding experience that was the Great War.

Author Notes

Jon Stallworthy was born on January 18, 1935 in London, England. He served as second lieutenant in the Nigeria Regiment of the West African Frontier Force in the mid-1950s. After completing his national service, he studied English literature at Magdalen College, Oxford University, where he won the Newdigate Prize for his poem The Earthly Paradise in 1958.

His first collection of poetry, The Astronomy of Love, was published in 1961. His other collections of poetry include Root and Branch, Hand in Hand, A Familiar Tree, The Anzac Sonata, The Guest from the Future, Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems, Body Language, and War Poet. He received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award in 2010 in recognition of his sustained body of work as a poet. He also wrote an autobiography entitled Singing School: The Making of a Poet.

He wrote biographies about several poets including Wilfred Owen, Boris Pasternak, Alexander Blok, Herbert Read, and Geoffrey Dearmer. His biography of Louis MacNeice won the Southern Arts Literature Prize. He edited several collections of poetry including The Penguin Book of Love Poetry, The Oxford Book of War Poetry, and Complete Poems and Fragments. He also taught English literature at Cornell University and Wolfson College, Oxford University. He died on November 19, 2014 at the age of 79.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This heavily illustrated work discusses 12 poets (e.g., Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves) who wrote during World War I, seven of whom did not survive. Each poet is covered in a separate chapter, which includes a brief synopsis of his family background and education but focuses on the individual as a developing poet before he enlisted in the service and then on the influence that the war and other war poets had on his work. Stallworthy (Oxford Univ.) here incorporates excerpts from letters and facsimiles of autograph manuscripts of poems. He provides good, close readings of one or two of each poet's work and ends each chapter with a handful of reprinted poems. The volume appears to be organized by grouping together poets with similar views of the war; thus, the poets with a romanticized view, whose early deaths stopped them from experiencing the war, begin the work. Although the coverage is brief, this is a very moving book. Recommended for all libraries.-Paolina Taglienti, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.