A poppy field in Flanders
A poppy field in Flanders
Credit: Tijl Vercaemer

Daughter of First World War poet Edmund Blunden to speak at Oxford

Stuart Gillespie

Margi Blunden, daughter of the First World War poet Edmund Blunden, will be remembering her father and his work at the WW1 Poetry Spring School run by Oxford University's English Faculty on 3-5 April 2014.

Margi will recall life growing up with a father deeply affected by the Great War and shed light on his literary achievements. As our living link to this bygone age, Margi will provide a thrilling insight into the man who wrote the autobiographical Undertones of War (1928), hailed as Blunden's greatest contribution to the literature of war.

The Spring School is open to members of the public, particularly those who are seeking to challenge common misconceptions and gain a deeper critical appreciation of Great War poetry. It will bring together world-leading experts, each giving an introductory lecture on the major poets and poems. Speakers will provide reading lists and follow-up exercises for further study.

Other speakers confirmed include: Adrian Barlow, Meg Crane, Guy Cuthbertson, Gerald Dawe, Simon Featherstone, Philip Lancaster, Stuart Lee, Jean Liddiard, Alisa Miller, Charles Mundye, Jane Potter, Mark Rawlinson and Jon Stallworthy.

Aged 19, Edmund Blunden volunteered to join the army, despite winning a place at The Queen's College, Oxford to read Classics. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and went to France in early 1916 and was eventually demobilised in mid-February 1919. During his service in France and Flanders he spent two years at the front, more than any other well-known war writer. Those two years included some of the most violent and bloody fighting in the war, including the battle of the Somme and the battle of Third Ypres.

His most famous works also include In Concert Party: Busseboom (written 10 years after the war) and The Waggoner (1920). He enjoyed a productive career as an editor, journalist, critic and biographer. Blunden was also instrumental in bringing the works of the war poets Wilfred Owen and Ivor Gurney to publication. Edmund Blunden died at his home on 20 January 1974 aged 77.

The Spring School will be held at the Faculty of English, St Cross Building, University of Oxford on 3-5 April 2014. There are a number of different ticket options, including student, senior, school and single-day rates. See the website for full details.