Edmund Blunden

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Edmund Charles Blunden, MC (1 November 1896 – 20 January 1974) was an English poet, author and critic. Like his friend Siegfried Sassoon, he wrote of his experiences in World War I in both verse and prose. For most of his career, Blunden was also a reviewer for English publications and an academic in Tokyo and later Hong Kong. He ended his career as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford.



Early years and WWI

Born in London, Blunden was the eldest of the nine children of Charles Edmund Blunden (1871–1951) and his wife, Georgina Margaret née Tyler, who were joint-headteachers of a London school.[1][2] Blunden was educated at Christ's Hospital and The Queen's College, Oxford.[3]

In August 1915 Blunden was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Sussex Regiment[1] and served with them right up to the end of World War I, taking part in the actions at Ypres and the Somme, and winning the Military Cross in the process. Unusually for a junior infantry officer, Blunden survived nearly two years in the front line without physical injury, but for the rest of his life bore mental scars from his experiences.[1] With characteristic self-deprecation he attributed his survival to his diminutive size: he made "an inconspicuous target".[4] 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 by some[who?] to lack the immediacy of those of Sassoon or Robert Graves. His own account of his frequently traumatic experiences was published in 1928 under the title Undertones of War.[2]

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