Queer Places:
67 South St, Reading RG1, Regno Unito
University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading • RG6 6AE, Regno Unito
Wakeman School & Arts College, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 6AA, Regno Unito
Plas Wilmot, Oswestry SY11 2BB, Regno Unito
Westminster Abbey, 20 Deans Yd, Westminster, London SW1P 3PA, Regno Unito
Communal Cemetery, 59360 Ors, Francia

Image result for Wilfred OwenWilfred Edward Salter Owen, MC (18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918) was an English poet and soldier. He was one of the leading poets of the First World War. His war poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare was heavily influenced by his mentor Siegfried Sassoon, and stood in stark contrast both to the public perception of war at the time and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets such as Rupert Brooke. Among his best-known works – most of which were published posthumously – are "Dulce et Decorum est", "Insensibility", "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Futility", "Spring Offensive" and "Strange Meeting".

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",[25] and recalled their time together "with affection".[26] 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.

Robert Graves[27] and Sacheverell Sitwell[28] (who also personally knew him) stated that Owen was homosexual, and homoeroticism is a central element in much of Owen's poetry.[29][30][31][32] Through Sassoon, Owen was introduced to a sophisticated homosexual literary circle which included Oscar Wilde's friend Robbie Ross, writer and poet Osbert Sitwell, and Scottish writer C. K. Scott Moncrieff, the translator of Marcel Proust. This contact broadened Owen's outlook, and increased his confidence in incorporating homoerotic elements into his work.[33][34] Historians have debated whether Owen had an affair with Scott Moncrieff in May 1918; he had dedicated various works to a "Mr W.O.",[35] but Owen never responded.[36]

Throughout Owen's lifetime and for decades after, homosexual activity between men was a punishable offence in British law, and the account of Owen's sexual development has been somewhat obscured because his brother Harold removed what he considered discreditable passages in Owen's letters and diaries after the death of their mother.[37] Andrew Motion wrote of Owen's relationship with Sassoon: "On the one hand, Sassoon's wealth, posh connections and aristocratic manner appealed to the snob in Owen: on the other, Sassoon's homosexuality admitted Owen to a style of living and thinking that he found naturally sympathetic." [38] Sassoon, by his own account, was not actively homosexual at this time.[39]

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."[40] 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."[41]


Westminster Abbey, London

Owen was killed in action on 4 November 1918 during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal, exactly one week (almost to the hour) before the signing of the Armistice which ended the war, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant the day after his death. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day, as the church bells in Shrewsbury were ringing out in celebration.[8][17] Owen is buried at Ors Communal Cemetery, Ors, in northern France.[18] The inscription on his gravestone, chosen by his mother Susan, is based on a quote from his poetry: "SHALL LIFE RENEW THESE BODIES? OF A TRUTH ALL DEATH WILL HE ANNUL" W.O..[18][19]


  1. Stallworthy, Jon (1974). Wilfred Owen, A Biography. Oxford University Press and Chatto and Windus. p. 11. ISBN 0-19-211719X.
  2. Wilfred Owen, A Biography. p. 13.
  3. Wilfred Owen, A Biography. pp. 13–14.
  4. Wilfred Owen, A Biography. pp. 35–36.
  5. "Wilfred Owen - Spirit of Birkenhead Institute". Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  6. Paul Farley, "Wilfred Owen: Journey to the Trenches", The Independent, November 2006
  7. Dickins, Gordon (1987). An Illustrated Literary Guide to Shropshire. Shropshire Libraries. p. 54. ISBN 0-903802-37-6.
  8. Stallworthy, Jon (2004). Wilfred Owen: Poems selected by Jon Stallworthy. London: Faber and Faber. pp. vii–xix. ISBN 0-571-20725-1.
  9. McDowell, Margaret B. "Wilfred Owen (18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918)." British Poets, 1914-1945, edited by Donald E. Stanford, vol. 20, Gale, 1983, p. 259. Dictionary of Literary Biography Main Series.
  10. "History of Wilfred Owen in Dunsden researched".
  11. Sitwell, Osbert, Noble Essences, London: Macmillan, 1950, pp. 93-4.
  12. "No. 29617". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 June 1916. p. 5726.
  13. "Ox.ac.uk". Oucs.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  14. Welcome to Ripon Cathedral Archived 3 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. "No. 31183". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 February 1919. p. 2378.
  16. "No. 31480". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 July 1919. p. 9761.
  17. "Armistice Touches" (PDF). The Ringing World. 13 December 1918. p. 397 (189 of online pdf). Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  18. "Casualty Details: Owen, Wilfred Edward Salter". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  19. "The End". The Wilfred Owen Society. Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  20. BBC Poetry Season. Accessed 4 April 2015
  21. Sitwell, O. op. cit. p. 93.
  22. "Poetry Season – Poems – Anthem For Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen". BBC. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  23. Cutbill, Jonathan (16 January 1987). "The Truth Untold". The New Statesman.
  24. Featherstone, Simon (1995). War Poetry: An Introductory Reader. Routledge. p. 126.
  25. Sassoon, Siegfried: "Siegfried's Journey" p. 58, Faber and Faber, first published in 1946.
  26. Sassoon, Siegfried: "Siegfried's Journey", p. 61, Faber and Faber, 1946.
  27. Graves, Robert, Goodbye To All That: An Autobiography, NY, 1929 ("Owen was an idealistic homosexual"); 1st edn only: quote subsequently excised. See: Cohen, Joseph Conspiracy of Silence, New York Review of Books, Vol. 22, No. 19.
  28. Hibbard, Dominic, The Truth Untold, p. 513.
  29. Hibberd, Dominic. Wilfred Owen, The Truth Untold (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2002), ISBN 0-460-87921-9, p. xxii.
  30. Fussell, Paul.The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford University Press, 2000), ISBN 0-19-513331-5, p. 286.
  31. Owen, Wilfred. The Complete Poems and Fragments, by Wilfred Owen; edited by Jon Stallworthy (W. W. Norton, 1984), ISBN 0-393-01830-X
  32. Caesar, Adrian. Taking It Like a Man: Suffering, Sexuality and the War Poets (Manchester University Press, 1993) ISBN 0-7190-3834-0, pp. 1-256.
  33. Hibberd, ibid. pp. 337, 375.
  34. Hoare, Philip. Oscar Wilde's Last Stand: decadence, conspiracy, and the most outrageous trial of the century(Arcade Publishing, 1998), ISBN 1-55970-423-3, p. 24.
  35. Hibberd, p. 155.
  36. Hipp, Daniel W. (2005). The Poetry of Shell Shock. McFarland. pp. 88–89. ISBN 0-7864-2174-6.
  37. Hibberd (2002), p. 20.
  38. Motion, Andrew (2008). Ways of Life: On Places, Painters and Poets. Faber and Faber. p. 218. ISBN 978-0-5712-2365-7.
  39. Jean Moorcroft Wilson, Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches : a Biography (1918-1967). Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0415967139. p 19. Accessed 25 January 2016
  40. Sassoon, Siegfried: "Siegfried's Journey", p. 71, Faber and Faber, 1946.
  41. Sassoon, Siegfried: "Siegfried's Journey", p. 72, Faber and Faber, 1946.