|Who is it?||Poet|
|Birth Day||March 18, 1893|
|Birth Place||Oswestry, British|
|Age||126 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||4 November 1918(1918-11-04) (aged 25)\nSambre–Oise Canal, France|
|Period||World War I|
2nd Lt, Wilfred Edward Salter Owen, 5th Bn. Manch. R., T.F., attd. 2nd Bn.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the attack on the Fonsomme Line on October 1st/2nd, 1918. On the company commander becoming a casualty, he assumed command and showed fine leadership and resisted a heavy counter-attack. He personally manipulated a captured enemy machine gun from an isolated position and inflicted considerable losses on the enemy. Throughout he behaved most gallantly.
Owen was born on 18 March 1893 at Plas Wilmot, a house in Weston Lane, near Oswestry in Shropshire. He was the eldest of Thomas and Harriet Owen (née Susan Shaw)'s four children; his siblings were Harold, Colin, and Mary Millard Owen. When Wilfred was born, his parents lived in a comfortable house owned by his grandfather, Edward Shaw.
After Edward's death in January 1897, and the house's sale in March, the family lodged in the back streets of Birkenhead. There Thomas Owen temporarily worked in the town employed by a railway company. Thomas transferred to Shrewsbury in April 1897 where the family lived with Thomas' parents in Canon Street.
Thomas Owen transferred back to Birkenhead again in 1898 when he became stationmaster at Woodside station. The family lived with him at three successive homes in the Tranmere district, They then moved back to Shrewsbury in 1907. Wilfred Owen was educated at the Birkenhead Institute and at Shrewsbury Technical School (later known as the Wakeman School).
Owen discovered his poetic vocation in about 1904 during a holiday spent in Cheshire. He was raised as an Anglican of the evangelical type, and in his youth was a devout believer, in part due to his strong relationship with his mother, which lasted throughout his life. His early influences included the Bible and the "big six" of romantic poetry, particularly John Keats.
Owen's last two years of formal education saw him as a pupil-teacher at the Wyle Cop school in Shrewsbury. In 1911 he passed the matriculation exam for the University of London, but not with the first-class honours needed for a scholarship, which in his family's circumstances was the only way he could have afforded to attend.
From 1912 he worked as a private tutor teaching English and French at the Berlitz School of Languages in Bordeaux, France, and later with a family. There he met the older French poet Laurent Tailhade, with whom he later corresponded in French. When war broke out, Owen did not rush to enlist - and even considered the French army - but eventually returned to England.
On 21 October 1915, he enlisted in the Artists Rifles Officers' Training Corps. For the next seven months, he trained at Hare Hall Camp in Essex. On 4 June 1916, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant (on probation) in the Manchester Regiment. Initially Owen held his troops in contempt for their loutish behaviour, and in a letter to his mother described his company as "expressionless lumps". However, his imaginative existence was to be changed dramatically by a number of traumatic experiences. He fell into a shell hole and suffered concussion; he was blown up by a trench mortar and spent several days unconscious on an embankment lying amongst the remains of one of his fellow officers. Soon afterward, Owen was diagnosed as suffering from neurasthenia or shell shock and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment. It was while recuperating at Craiglockhart that he met fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, an encounter that was to transform Owen's life.
Owen held Siegfried Sassoon in an esteem not far from hero-worship, remarking to his mother that he was "not worthy to light [Sassoon's] pipe". The relationship clearly had a profound impact on Owen, who wrote in his first letter to Sassoon after leaving Craiglockhart "You have fixed my life – however short". Sassoon wrote that he took "an instinctive liking to him", and recalled their time together "with affection". On the evening of 3 November 1917 they parted, Owen having been discharged from Craiglockhart. He was stationed on home-duty in Scarborough for several months, during which time he associated with members of the artistic circle into which Sassoon had introduced him, which included Robbie Ross and Robert Graves. He also met H. G. Wells and Arnold Bennett, and it was during this period he developed the stylistic voice for which he is now recognised. Many of his early poems were penned while stationed at the Clarence Garden Hotel, now the Clifton Hotel in Scarborough's North Bay. A blue tourist plaque on the hotel marks its association with Owen.
Sassoon and Owen kept in touch through correspondence, and after Sassoon was shot in the head in July 1918 and sent back to England to recover, they met in August and spent what Sassoon described as "the whole of a hot cloudless afternoon together." They never saw each other again. About three weeks later, Owen wrote to bid Sassoon farewell, as he was on the way back to France, and they continued to communicate. After the Armistice, Sassoon waited in vain for word from Owen, only to be told of his death several months later. The loss grieved Sassoon greatly, and he was never "able to accept that disappearance philosophically."
Susan Owen's letter to Rabindranath Tagore marked, Shrewsbury, 1 August 1920, reads: "I have been trying to find courage to write to you ever since I heard that you were in London – but the Desire to tell you something is finding its way into this letter today. The letter may never reach you, for I do not know how to address it, tho’ I feel sure your name upon the envelope will be sufficient. It is nearly two years ago, that my dear eldest son went out to the War for the last time and the day he said goodbye to me – we were looking together across the sun-glorified sea – looking towards France, with breaking hearts – when he, my poet son, said those wonderful words of yours – beginning at ‘When I go from hence, let this be my parting word’ – and when his pocket book came back to me – I found these words written in his dear writing – with your name beneath."
Owen's poems had the benefit of strong patronage, and it was a combination of Sassoon's influence, support from Edith Sitwell, and the preparation of a new and fuller edition of the poems in 1931 by Edmund Blunden that ensured his popularity, coupled with a revival of interest in his poetry in the 1960s which plucked him out of a relatively exclusive readership into the public eye. Though he had plans for a volume of verse, for which he had written a "Preface", he never saw his own work published apart from those poems he included in The Hydra, the magazine he edited at Craiglockhart War Hospital, and "Miners", which was published in The Nation.
His poetry has been reworked into various formats. For Example, Benjamin Britten incorporated eight of Owen's poems into his War Requiem, along with words from the Latin Mass for the Dead (Missa pro Defunctis). The Requiem was commissioned for the reconsecration of Coventry Cathedral and first performed there on 30 May 1962. Derek Jarman adapted it for the screen in 1988, with the 1963 recording as the Soundtrack.
In 1975 Mrs. Harold Owen, Wilfred's sister-in-law, donated all of the manuscripts, photographs and letters which her late husband had owned to the University of Oxford's English Faculty Library. As well as the personal artifacts, this also includes all of Owen's personal library and an almost complete set of The Hydra – the magazine of Craiglockhart War Hospital. These can be accessed by any member of the public on application in advance to the English Faculty librarian.
Additionally in 1982, singer Virginia Astley set the poem "Futility" to music she had composed.
On 11 November 1985, Owen was one of the 16 Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner. The inscription on the stone is taken from Owen's "Preface" to his poems: "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity." There is also a small museum dedicated to Owen and Sassoon at the Craiglockhart War Hospital, now a Napier University building.
An important turning point in Owen scholarship occurred in 1987 when the New Statesman published a stinging polemic 'The Truth Untold' by Jonathan Cutbill, the literary executor of Edward Carpenter, which attacked the academic suppression of Owen as a poet of homosexual experience. Amongst the points it made was that the poem "Shadwell Stair", previously alleged to be mysterious, was a straightforward elegy to homosexual soliciting in an area of the London docks once renowned for it.
Pat Barker's historical novel Regeneration (1991) also describes the meeting and relationship between Sassoon and Owen, acknowledging that, from Sassoon's perspective, the meeting had a profoundly significant effect on Owen. Owen's treatment with his own Doctor, Arthur Brock, is also touched upon briefly. Owen's death is described in the third book of Barker's Regeneration trilogy, The Ghost Road (1995). In the 1997 film Regeneration, Stuart Bunce played Owen.
Owen's full unexpurgated opus is in the academic two-volume work The Complete Poems and Fragments (1994) by Jon Stallworthy. Many of his poems have never been published in popular form.
His poetry is sampled multiple times on the 2000 Jedi Mind Tricks album Violent by Design. Producer Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind has been widely acclaimed for his sampling on the album, and inclusion of Owen's poetry.
Owen is the subject of the BBC docudrama Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale (2007), in which he is played by Samuel Barnett.
Owen was mentioned as a source of inspiration for one of the correspondents in the epistolary novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008), by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
Wirral musician Dean Johnson created the musical Bullets and Daffodils, based on music set to Owen's poetry, in 2010.
The forester's house in Ors where Owen spent his last night, Maison forestière de l'Ermitage, has been transformed by Turner Prize nominee Simon Patterson into an art installation and permanent memorial to Owen and his poetry, which opened to the public on 1 October 2011.
In 2015 British indie rock band The Libertines released an album entitled Anthems For Doomed Youth; this featured the track "Anthem for Doomed Youth", named after Owen’s poem.
To commemorate Wilfred’s life and poetry, The Wilfred Owen Association was formed in 1989. Since its formation the Association has established permanent public memorials in Shrewsbury and Oswestry. In addition to readings, talks, visits and performances, it promotes and encourages exhibitions, conferences, awareness and appreciation of Owen's poetry. The Association President is Peter Owen, Wilfred Owen’s nephew. Dr Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury 2002–2012), Sir Daniel Day-Lewis and Grey Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie are Patrons. The Association presents a biennial Poetry Award to honour a poet for a sustained body of work that includes memorable war poems; previous recipients include Sir Andrew Motion (Poet Laureate 1999-2009). In November 2015, actor Jason Isaacs unveiled a tribute to Owen at the former Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh where Owen was treated for shell shock during WWI.