War poet Edmund Blunden's works go online

Lauren Turner,Press Association
Tuesday 01 September 2009 17:47

Rare manuscripts by war poet Edmund Blunden are being published online by Oxford University.

The Edmund Blunden Collection, which is launched tomorrow, contains previously unseen material assembled from archives in the UK and the US, including his family's private collection.

The collection, part of Oxford University's First World War Poetry Digital Archive, contains extracts from the writer's Minute Book, a private scrapbook he put together after the war.

Previously unpublished poems and letters sent home to his family while he was on active service have also been included on the website.

His daughter Margi Blunden, 63, said she was delighted the information was going online and that she hoped it would help readers understand her father's work, including autobiography Undertones of War.

She said: "We are very pleased that the digital archive is including Blunden's work as it gives him a much-deserved profile that has been lacking for many years.

"Seeing the original manuscripts in this way is a moving experience and we think it will greatly enhance the students' reading of both Undertones of War and his war poetry.

"In addition it will help readers to understand Blunden's long war experience of nearly two years at the front."

Blunden, who died in 1974 at the age of 77, was sent to the Western Front in 1916, where he served with the 11th Royal Sussex regiment. He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during the Battle of the Somme.

He later worked as an editor, journalist, critic, and biographer, and became Oxford Professor of Poetry in 1966.

Oxford University researcher Alun Edwards said: "Previously, to see these manuscripts you would have had to travel to the US to the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the items held by the family have remained private to all but the most trusted academic researchers."

The archive includes 12,000 previously unseen pieces of material, including work by Wilfred Owen, Vera Brittain and Isaac Rosenberg.

The Blunden collection can be found at www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/blunden.

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