Edmund Blunden

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Edmund Charles Blunden, MC (November 1, 1896 - January 20, 1974), although not one of the top trio of English World War I writers, was an important and influential poet, author and critic.

Born in London, Blunden was educated at Christ's Hospital, a famous public school in Sussex, and later at Queen's College, Oxford. In 1915, he was commissioned as an officer into the Royal Sussex Regiment, and served with them right up to the end of the war, taking part in the actions at Ypres and the Somme, and winning the Military Cross in the process. His own account of his sometimes traumatic experiences was published, in 1928, under the title Undertones of War.

It was after the war that Blunden began his long-standing friendship with Siegfried Sassoon, who came from the same part of England and whose interests in country pursuits he shared. Blunden also studied the same English Literature course with Robert Graves, and the two were close friends during their time at Oxford together. In 1922, Blunden was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Prize for Poetry. Although he wrote war poems, he avoided the graphic edge that characterises the work of Sassoon or Wilfred Owen, and his memoirs of war service, though beautifully written, have been argued to have lacked the immediacy of those of Sassoon or Robert Graves.

In 1924 Blunden was invited to teach in Tokyo, and the years 1924-27 were one of two periods he spent working in Japan and the Far East. In 1931, he became a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, where he remained until 1944. After that he was a Cultural Adviser in Tokyo. In 1968, after a period as Professor of English Literature at the University of Hong Kong, he returned to Oxford University as Professor of Poetry.

He is buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church in Long Melford, Suffolk.

  • http://www.edmundblunden.org/
  • A large collection of Blunden's papers is located at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin
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