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Edmund Blunden (Edmund Charles Blunden) Biography

(1896–1974), (Edmund Charles Blunden), Undertones of War, Goodbye to All That, The Athenaeum, Times Literary Supplement

British poet, born in London; he grew up in Yalding, Kent, and was educated at Queen's College, Oxford. Of the many poems he wrote during active service on the Western Front from 1915 to 1919, a number are among the best examples of the poetry of the First World War (see war poetry). His experiences as a soldier strongly informed his later writing, achieving their fullest expression in the autobiographical prose of Undertones of War (1928), which also contains thirty-two of his most memorable war poems; as a record of the radical shifts in personal and cultural orientation effected by the conflict, the work is equalled only by Graves's Goodbye to All That (1929). In 1920 Blunden became Middleton Murry's assistant editor on The Athenaeum. Throughout the 1930s he taught at Merton College, Oxford, and subsequently joined the staff of the Times Literary Supplement. He was Professor of English at the University of Hong Kong from 1953 to 1964 and was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1966, retiring after eighteen months through ill health. Following early collections of his poetry in 1914 and 1916, Blunden's reputation was established with The Waggoner (1920); The Shepherd (1922) and English Poems (1925) are among the best-known of many succeeding volumes. Collected Poems (1930) and Poems: 1930–1940 (1940) remain the principal editions of his work. The most substantial representation of his later writing is A Hong Kong House: Poems 1951–1961 (1962). Critical disparagement of the Georgian poets, among whom Blunden was numbered, has tended to diminish his standing; but while a great deal of his verse is devoted to nature and landscape, often in the Kent countryside, its intricate musicality, precise imagery, and imaginative power distinguish it entirely from mediocre Georgian poetry. As a scholar and editor, his editions of the poetry of John Clare (1920) and Ivor Gurney (1954) rescued their work from obscurity. He also produced numerous books of criticism and literary biography, among which are the collection of essays entitled Votive Tablets (1931), Leigh Hunt (1930), and Charles Lamb (1954). See Edmund Blunden (1990) by Barry Webb.

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