Authors: Edmund Blunden

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Poems, 1914

The Harbingers, 1916

Pastorals: A Book of Verses, 1916

The Waggoner, and Other Poems, 1920

The Shepherd, and Other Poems of Peace and War, 1922

To Nature: New Poems, 1923

English Poems, 1925

Masks of Time: A New Collection of Poems, Principally Meditative, 1925

Retreat, 1928

Undertones of War, 1928

Near and Far: New Poems, 1929

The Poems of Edmund Blunden, 1914-1930, 1930

To Themis: Poems on Famous Trials, with Other Pieces, 1931

Halfway House: A Miscellany of New Poems, 1932

Choice or Chance: New Poems, 1934

An Elegy, and Other Poems, 1937

Poems, 1930-1940, 1940

Shells by a Stream: New Poems, 1944

After the Bombing, and Other Short Poems, 1949

Poems of Many Years, 1957

A Hong Kong House, 1962

Eleven Poems, 1965

Selected Poems, 1982

Overtones of War, 1996

Long Fiction:

We’ll Shift Our Ground: Or, Two on a Tour, 1933 (with Sylva Norman)

Nonfiction:

The Bonadventure: A Random Journal of an Atlantic Holiday, 1922

On the Poems of Henry Vaughan: Characteristics and Imitations, 1927

Undertones of War, 1928 (prose and poetry)

Leigh Hunt and His Circle, 1930

The Poems of Wilfred Owen, 1931

Votive Tablets, 1931

Charles Lamb and His Contemporaries, 1933

The Mind’s Eye, 1934

Edward Gibbon and His Age, 1935

English Villages, 1941

Shelley: A Life Story, 1946

Biography

Often described as a “Georgian” poet and admired for his loving descriptions of the rural English landscape, Edmund Blunden was also a noted poet of World War I, the contemporary of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, and Isaac Rosenberg. His Undertones of War is one of the great literary memoirs of the Great War. Blunden was also a scholar, particularly of the Romantic poets, Charles Lamb, and Thomas Hardy, a teacher and tutor of English literature in Oxford, Japan, and Hong Kong and a long-serving journalist, reviewer, and editor.{$I[AN]9810000701}{$I[A]Blunden, Edmund Charles}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Blunden, Edmund Charles}{$I[tim]1896;Blunden, Edmund Charles}

Educated in Cleaves Grammar School, Christ’s Hospital, Blunden served as a lieutenant with the Royal Sussex Regiment, received the military cross, and was wounded and gassed. After the war he studied briefly at Queen’s College, Oxford, before becoming a subeditor for J. Middleton Murry on the Athenaeum. Poor health forced him to take a tramp steamer cruise to South America, the “random journey” of which he describes in The Bonadventure: A Random Journal of an Atlantic Holiday, published in 1922. After winning the Hawthornden Prize for poetry, he was appointed to the Lafcadio Hearn Chair in English at the University of Tokyo 1924-1927. From 1931 to 1944 he was a fellow and tutor at Merton College, Oxford.

Given his experiences in World War I, Blunden was a reluctant supporter of World War II. In 1947 he returned to Japan with the United Kingdom Liaison Mission. With his love of literature and his admiration for Japan he helped heal some of the wounds of war, for which he was elected to the Japan Academy in 1950. Blunden returned to Asia in 1953 to teach English literature at the University of Hong Kong for the next ten years. He was elected professor of poetry at Oxford in 1966, but poor health forced his retirement in 1968. His last years were marked by physical and mental decline. He died in 1974.

Blunden, with his love of fishing, beer, and cricket, was in many ways an archetypal Englishman. His poems, both of war and of the English countryside, made him one of the most popular and accessible writers of his era. His prominence was recognized by the British government in 1951 when he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was also awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 1956 and the Midsummer Prize in 1970.

BibliographyBarlow, Adrian. The Great War in British Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Although intended more for the student reader, this short book does an effective job of overviewing the major issues faced by British writers like Vera Brittain, Robert Graves, Richard Aldington, and Edmund Blunden.Bergonzi, Bernard. Heroes’ Twilight: A Study of the Literature of the Great War. 1965. Reprint. Manchester, England: Carcanet, 1996. Bergonzi’s book was one of the first critical studies of its subject written for the nonacademic. This work postulates that British writers represented the war in terms of a “complex fusion of tradition and unprecedented reality.”Cross, Tim, ed. Lost Voices of World War I. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1990. A moving anthology of poetry and other short works by writers who were killed in the conflict. It includes a fine introduction by Robert Wohl, a leading scholar of modernism, who offers valuable insight into how Blunden’s British contemporaries felt about literature and the role it plays in society.Hibbard, Dominic. The First World War. London: Macmillan, 1990. This work offers a chronological study of the war seen through the eyes of the writers who represented it at the time and much later. Generally, Hibbard does not focus much attention on Blunden, although he does point out that writers were far from univocal in their treatment of the war; responses ranged from the kind produced by Blunden to the gossipy cynicism and outrage of Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon.Mallon, Thomas. Edmund Blunden. Boston: Twayne, 1983. Like other works in the Twayne series, this study of Blunden is a fine starting point for general readers who are unfamiliar with the poet or his poetry.Webb, Barry. Edmund Blunden: A Biography. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990. This biography goes into great detail about the difficulties he faced in finding suitable work and domestic happiness. The general picture that emerges is of a thoroughly decent, kindly man who made the best of the worst possible experiences.
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