1040 SOLDIER POETS OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR
Dr Jean Moorcroft Wilson, biographer, publisher, lecturer, Birkbeck College, University of London
The First World War was a milestone in English history and also in literature. This was a war in which not only soldiers but civilians were affected. Over three-quarters of a million British military personnel died in the fighting and countless more were injured. The most powerful literature to emerge from the war was written by combatants. Their heightened experience in war appears to have stimulated new intensities of imagination. This is particularly true of the poetry of the period, with its insights into changing attitudes towards the war, attitudes which in turn affected the development of the war itself. This two-hour lecture will approach the subject chronologically, the great dividing line being the Somme battles from 1916 to 1917 which separate what one might call the first generation of war poets – Rupert Brooke, Julian Grenfell and Charles Hamilton Sorley among them – from the second, which includes Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Owen and Cape Town’s own Great War poet Isaac Rosenberg.
Poems will be supplied.