Wilfred Edward Salter Owen (Oswestry (Shropshire), 18 March 1893 – at Ors (France), 4 november 1918) was an English poet and soldier. He is considered by many to be the best of the English ' War Poets ' (a name for poets who wrote during and about the first world war) are considered. His shocking and realistic war poetry on the horrors oftrench warfare and gas attacks was strongly influenced by his friend Siegfried Sassoon. Much of his work was published only after his death.


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Owen was born in Oswestry (Shropshire), the eldest of 4 children. The family was, after the death of his grandfather in 1897, forced to in a less favorable neighborhood ofBirkenhead to go live. After his secondary education in Birkenhead, he closed in 1911 to have entrance examination for the University of London. He succeeded before, but was not eligible for a scholarship. To fund his studies, he worked as an Assistant to the Vicar of Dunsden and as a pupil-teacher at the Wyle Cop School. At the outbreak of the first world war worked Owen as private teacher English and French in Bordeaux.

Military service[Edit]Edit

On 21 October 1915 he enlisted, mainly from romantic considerations, as a volunteer in the army. In January 1917 he was, as a second Lieutenant, added to The Manchester Regiment. After several traumatic experiences (as he sat 3 days stuck in a shell crater) he was sent home with a diagnosis shellshock Craiglockhart War Hospital and included in the in Edinburgh. It was there that he met Siegfried Sassoon.

A few months after his resignation from Craiglockhart Owen was stationed in Scarborough. In June 1918 he returned, voluntarily, back in active service in France, although he also for the remainder of the war could continue in England . His decision to return was almost certainly the result of Sassoons return to England. Sassoon was wounded and sent home with permanent sick leave. Owen saw it as his duty to place the Sassoons front to take over, so that the horrific realities of war continued to be told. Sassoon was a very outspoken opponent of Owens return to the front. He even threatened "him in his leg to cross" if he went anyway. To not embarrass his friend Owen informed him, only when he was already in France.

After its return to the front led Owen on 1 October 1918 an attack on German positions at a number of Joncourt. For his courage and leadership in this action, he was awarded the Military Cross (posthumously).

Owen was killed in action on 4 november 1918 during an action at the Sambre-Oise Canal, almost to the hour a week for drawing the truce. The day after his death was confirmed his promotion to Lieutenant. His mother received the message of his death on 11 november 1918 (Armistice Day), while the church bells were ringing to celebrate the end of the war.

He is buried in the municipal cemetery of Ors. There are for him in Gailly, Ors, Oswestry and Shrewsbury memorials set up. In the Craiglockhart War Hospital, now a building of the Napier University, is a small museum dedicated to Owen and Sassoon.


Owen is seen as one of the leading poets of the first world war, famous for his war poetry on the horrors of trench warfare and poison gas attacks. His great friend, Siegfried Sassoon had a clear influence on Owens work. They met in the Craiglockhart War Hospital in 1917 (Edinburgh), where both were treated for ' shell shock '.

Owen felt attracted to poetry at an early age, mainly due to his fascination with the work of John Keats, whose influence is noticeable in his early work. His poetry changed greatly during his stay at Craiglockhart. As part of his therapy was encouraged by his treating physician, Owen, his experiences in France to turn it into poems. This would be a clear break with his previous work, which consisted mainly of airy sonnets .Sassoons influence consisted mainly of stimulating a different style and content of the poems. Owen took especially Sassoons satire and realism about it. There are several handwritten manuscripts of Owen's work known, complete with Sassoon's comment.

The largest contributor to Owens fame by Sassoon is probably been the promotion of his work, both before and after his death. Sassoon was one of Owens first editors, all during their stay at Craiglockhart. Owens work is very recognizable and he is considered a greater poet than Sassoon.

Although he himself had plans for a poetry-he had already written an introduction for-his work was published only after his death.

His best known poems include Anthem for Doomed YouthDulce et Decorum est and The Parable of the Old Man and the Young .

References in (popular) culture[Edit]Edit