Wilfred Owen

Author: Wilfred Owen

Profile: Wilfred Edward Salter Owen is better known as Wilfred Owen was an English poet and soldier. He was born in Oswestry, Shropshire, England and died in Sambre-Oise Canal, France. He was one of the leading poets of the First World War.

Wilfred Owen and family lived in the Tranmere district in three successive homes after which in 1907 they moved back to Shrewsbury. Wilfred completed his education at the Birkenhead Institute and at Shrewsbury Technical School.


In around 1904 while on a holiday in Cheshire, Owen discovered his vocation for poetry. During his youth Owen was a devout believer and was raised as an Anglican of the evangelical type partly due is strong relationship with his mother all through life. He passed the matriculation exam for the University of London in 1911. He attended classes in botany at University College Reading and later at the head of the English Department took free lessons in Old English. He worked as a French and English private teacher from 2013 at the Berlitz School of Languages in Bordeaux France and with a family later where he met Laurent Tailhade, the French poet with whom he corresponded in French. He did not rush to enlist at the time war broke out but returned to England.


Owen joined war service on 21st October 1915 and on 4th November 1918 was killed in action. Many of Wilfred Owen’s best-known works have been published posthumously.


Writing style: Wilfred Owen’s genre is war poetry. Siegfried Sassoon his mentor influenced Wilfred Owen in writing his war poetry on the horrors of gas warfare and trenches. His poetry stood in contrast to perception of war by the public during the time of the First World War and to the patriotic verse written confidently earlier by Rupert Brooke and other war poets.


Published Texts:

Poems published before his death


Dulce et decorum est


Anthem for Doomed Youth


Spring Offensive

Strange Meeting


Poems published posthumously

1920 – Poems

1931 – The Poems of Wilfred Owen

1963 – The Complete Poems and Fragments

Soldier’s Dream (deals with Owen’s conception of war)


Awards and Acknowledgements:

A huge correspondence collection of the Owen family is held at the University of Texas by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.


Memorials have been dedicated to Owen at Oswestry, Ors, Gailly, Shrewsbury and Birkenhead


Owen was commemorated on a slate stone in Westminster Abbey on 11th November 1985 with the inscription being taken from the ‘Preface’ to his poems.

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