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Wilfred Owen: A New Biography [Paperback]

Dominic Hibberd
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

4 Nov 2003
When Wilfred Owen died in 1918 aged 25, only five of his poems had been published. Yet he became one of the most popular poets of the 20th century. For decades his public image was controlled by family and friends, especially his brother Harold who was terrified anyone might think Wilfred was gay. In recent years much new material has become available. This book, based on over thirty years of wide-ranging reaearch, brings new information to almost every part of Owen's life. Owen emerges as a complex, fascinating and often endearing character with an intense delight in being alive.

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Wilfred Owen: A New Biography + The Poems of Wilfred Owen
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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (4 Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753817098
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753817094
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Owen deserved--but has so far lacked--a definitive biography. Now it is indisputably here."

Book Description

The definitive biography of the war poet - 'Dominic Hibberd has probably done more more than any other individual to illuminate Owen's life and work. His new Life is a triumph ... it is difficult to believe it will ever be superseded' Mark Bostridge, The Independent on Sunday

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
For many years, the authoritative text on Owen’s life and deeds has been Jon Stallworthy’s 1974 biography, but Hibberd's not only compliments but surpasses its predecessor in every way; never before has Wilfred been so candidly, definitively and charmingly sculpted than in this ‘New Biography’.
For too long, Wilfred has been seen only as a ‘trench poet’, his work admired, but his life known in scant detail beyond his acquaintance with Siegfried Sassoon in Craiglockhart and his tragic death just one week before the armistice (anyone who protests that I've just 'spoiled the ending' will be emphatically ignored). As Stallworthy before him, Hibberd has endeavoured to present Wilfred not as a deified myth but as a person, and succeeds spectacularly - gone are Stallworthy’s tentative brushings at ‘adolescent infatuations’, replaced by frank, open discussion of the greatest poet of his century’s sexual orientation, his tendencies towards hypochondria and hero-worship, his self-doubt...all his idiosyncrasies and foibles.
With comprehensive details of his horrific life in the ‘seventh hell’ of the trenches as well as his life before becoming a soldier, as a teacher, a vicar’s assistant and a devoted son, every facet of Wilfred’s life that he has left in human memories or in the letters not censored by his brother, Harold, is touched upon. I applaud Hibberd’s accessible style, his objective unwillingness to pass moral judgement, his astounding level of research and his utter dedication.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and useful 19 July 2008
Format:Paperback
I would definitely recommend this book, both for people wishing to learn more about the life of Wilfred Owen, the well-known World War One poet, and for people like myself who wanted to use the book for academic purposes. I did not think that a biography of a man who lived for such a short amount of time could be so detailed.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves 30 Jan 2009
By Mr. A. Whiteside TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
When I received this book last Christmas I was slightly shocked at how many pages there appeared to be. I admit that I knew very little about Wilfred Owen apart from the fact that he wrote poetry during World War 1 and he died very young(25 years of age). I immediately thought that there was no way that his life story could fill almost 500 pages but I was wrong. This is surely the definitive biography about him and a brilliant job is done by Dominic Hibberd.

Pretty much the first half of the book is about his pre-war years and the times that Owen spent at school, as a teacher, a vicar's assistant and the time he lived in France for a while. At times I did feel a little impatient as I really wanted to know what occured during his wartime experiences. I must admit though that Hibberd has done a staggering amount of research including trying hard to disect Owen's brother Harold's at times brutal censorship of the letters written by Wilfred. It was interesting to learn about Wilfred's weaknesses such as being a Mother's boy, a hypochondriac and the slow realisation that he was gay. As you read this book you do become aware that it all leads up to the horrors of war and the author takes you there slowly but very surely. When we finally arrive at 1917 and the true reality of what Owen and many thousands more went through it is chilling and makes for a rivetting read.

The true strength of this book is without a doubt the descriptions of the fighting, killing and pure fear of what so many men went through as they battled against the odds. At one time Owen's CO accused him of cowardice as he cracked under the strain of constant shelling and spending the night next to a colleague that had been blown to pieces.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Symbolism to a forgotten age 11 Jun 2013
By Connor
Format:Paperback
Whether you enjoy the poems of Wilfred Owen or not, his short but eventful life is symbolic testimony to one of the most tragic periods in British history. It is ironic that his experience of war was to bring out the best in his work, and the fact he was to die only a few days before it ended is a terrible loss. For me Wilfred Owen always felt like an enigmatic character of war that, apart from his poetry, no one really knew anything about, but this book really brings him to life. It is extremely well researched and thoughtfully written, and when I'd finished it almost felt like I'd actually experienced a little of his life. A great read!
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