Wilfred Owen: Facts About the World War 1 Poet

Here are some facts about Wilfred Owen.

  • Wilfred Owen was born on 18th March 1893 in Oswestry in Shropshire, England.
  • He went to school at the Birkenhead Institute and Shrewsbury Technical School.

  • As a child, his family moved around quite a lot. He lived in Shrewsbury and in several different homes in and around Tranmere.
  • He was a pupil-teacher at Wyle Cop School in Shrewsbury.
  • He wanted to attend the University of London, but he didn’t do well enough in the matriculation exam to earn a full scholarship. As a result, he couldn’t afford the fees and had to look at other options.
  • Wilfred Owen became an assistant to the Vicar of Dunsden, and he took some classes (in botany and Old English) at the University of Reading.
  • He moved to Bordeaux in France in 1913 and he worked as a tutor at the Berlitz School of Languages.
  • In France he met the poet, Laurent Tailhade.
  • Wilfred Owen enlisted on 21st October 1915, joining the Artists’ Rifles Officers’ Training Corp.
  • After seven months of training at Hare Hall Camp in Essex, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment.
  • Wilfred Owen left for the western front in France in January 1917.

Wilfred Owen

  • He experienced heavy fighting. On one occasion he was knocked unconscious when he fell into a shell hole, and he was once blown into the air by a trench mortar.
  • Wilfred Owen was diagnosed with shell shock and he was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh.
  • In hospital, Wilfred Owen met the poet Siegfried Sassoon. They became good friends and Sassoon, already an established poet, helped Owen to improve his poetry by drawing on his experience of life on the western front.
  •  In March 1918, Owen was posted to the Northern Command at Ripon. He continued to work on his poems and he celebrated his 25th birthday in Ripon.
  • In August 1918, Wilfred Owen returned to the front line in France. He was killed in combat on 4th November 1918 on the banks of the Sambre Canal. World War 1 would be over one week later.
  • He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in an attack on enemy near the village of Joncourt.
  •  Only five of Wilfred Owen’s poems were published before he died.
  • His most well-known poems include: Strange Meeting, Anthem for Doomed Youth, Futility, The Parable of the Old Man and the Young, and Dulce Et Decorum Est.
  • Throughout his short life, Wilfred Owen’s poetry underwent a transformation. His earliest poems were heavily influenced by the Romantic poets John Keats and Shelley. His later work, influenced by Siegfried Sassoon, combines these Romantic elements with a gritty realism drawn from his own experiences of World War 1. His poems reveal the true horrors of the life in the trenches of World War 1.
  • Wilfred Owen is buried in Ors Communal Cemetery.
  • In Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, Wilfred Owen is commemorated along with fifteen other World War 1 poets.
  • Wilfred Owen appears in Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy.

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