Richard Aldington, 1892-1962

Served on the Western Front from 1916-1918 until he was gassed. Published a Death of a Hero in 1929 which provided a savage and realistic appraisal of life in the trenches.


William Blake, 1757-1827

Engraver, poet, and mystic of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Though probably insane he was read widely by the likes of Wordsworth, and a three-volume edition of his works appeared in 1893 edited by W. B. Yeats.


Rupert Brooke, 1887-1915

Brought up in a privileged environment, Brooke was a brilliant scholar publishing his first book of poetry in 1911. He was a friend of Sir Edward Marsh and a leading light in literary circles. Brooke died of blood poisoning during the Dardanelles campaign in 1915. His poems, published in 1918, are often criticised for painting a romantic picture of the war but this is perhaps somewhat unfair as it is possible that his views may well have changed as the conflict progressed.


John Donne, 1572-1631

Politician, priest, and one of the leading metaphysical poets. His work, and that of his contemporaries, heavily influenced the poets of the First World War.


Robert Graves, 1895-1985

Educated at Charterhouse, Graves enlisted into the Royal Welch Fusiliers at the beginning of the War. Friends of Sassoon, Owen, and Nichols, he survived the conflict publishing his highly successful autobiography Goodbye to All That in 1929. He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1961-66.


Julian Grenfell, 1888-1915

Son of Lord Desborough, Grenfell served in the Royal Dragoons during the war. Awarded the Distinguished Service Order for valour.


Field Marshal Earl Haig

Haig became Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary force (BEF) in France on December 19th 1915. His career after that is highly controversial. Despite his brilliant defensive strategies and victories in 1918 in which he repulsed the German counter-attacks, he will always be remembered as the strategist and motivator behind the carnage of the Battles of the Somme and Passchendale.


Rudyard Kipling, 1865-1936

Although noted more for his writings prior to the War, particularly his children's books, Kipling's son was killed in the conflict prompting him to write several poems, most of which were anti-war in their sentiments.


Earl Lloyd George, 1863-1945

British Chancellor of the Exchequer 1908-15, Minister of Munitions 1915-16, Prime Minister 1916-1922.


Lt. Gen. Erich von Ludendorff, 1865-1937

German war leader of great esteem he planned and executed the successful engagements along the Eastern Front in the early parts of the War. Gradually Ludendorff became the most powerful officer in Germany and virtually led the country and the armed forces single-handedly, masterminding the brilliant, though ultimately unsuccessful, counter- attacks in early 1918. Dismissed from power in October 1918 after rejecting Allied armistice terms he faded from power although he reappeared in 1923 to play a minor role in Adolf Hitler's Munich 'putsch'.


Sir Edward Marsh, 1872-1953

A scholar of some distinction and friend and executor to Rupert Brooke, whose complete works he edited in 1918. Between 1912 and 1922 Marsh edited the highly influential volumes of Georgian Poetry which included poems by Sassoon, Graves, and Rosenberg.


Harriet Monroe, 1861-1936

Born in Chicago and educated at Georgetown. Monroe was the first editor of the journal Poetry which published 'Break of Day in the Trenches'.


Robert Nichols, 1893-1945

Educated at Oxford, Nichols served with the Royal Artillery from 1914-16 and fought at the Somme. Invalided home in 1916 he then went on to work for the Ministry of Information.


Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918

Regarded by some as the greatest of all war poets, and possibly one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Born in Oswestry in Shropshire. After failing to attain entrance to the University of London, he spent a year as a lay assistant to the Revd. Herbert Wigan at Dunsden before leaving for Bordeaux, France, to teach at the Berlitz School of English. In 1915 he enlisted fighting on the Western Front. During a spell in the Craglockhart Hospital he met Siegfried Sassoon who encouraged him to develop his poetry. Owen's poems are amongst the most famous and poignant of the war. He died crossing the Sambre canal one week before the Armistice in 1918.


Siegfried Sassoon, 1886-1967

Sassoon was brought up in the a wealthy environment leading the lifestyle of a country gentleman. He enlisted in 1914 joining the Royal Welch Fusiliers where he met Robert Graves. Sassoon's war service was a mixture of brave (almost suicidal) deeds and a growing sense of disillusionment with the conflict. During a spell of convalescence in which he was treated for 'shell-shock' at Craiglockhart Hospital he met and befriended Wilfred Owen who was also being treated there. Sassoon's poetry presents a savage and bitter attack on the nature of the War. He also published a series of autobiographies in which he recounts his life before, during, and after the conflict.


Edward Thomas, 1878-1917

Born in London and educated at Oxford, he enlisted as a private in 1915 and was killed at Arras in 1917. Most of his poetry was published posthumously and depicts an elegiac view of the lost England, with an acute awareness and love of the countryside.