War Poetry

Image Gallery



Contact Us

1930 - 1939

In 1930 Edmund was in need of a domestic retreat so he moved to Hawstead, Suffolk with his brother Gilbert and his German wife Annie. He also took up a new appointment as literary and assistant editor of another journal, 'The Nation'. The financial pressures showed no signs of easing; he was now responsible not only for his own bed and board at Hawstead, but also for Mary, the children, and for Aki Hayashi. In 1931 leasing the old school house, Cleaves, he returned to Yalding briefly. He spent his time there editing the poems of Wilfred Owen which were published later that year. Like his pioneering work on John Clare, this edition was the first to bring the poems of Wilfred Owen to the reading public, and remained the standard text for the next thirty years. In October he took up a fellowship and tutorship in English at Merton College, Oxford. This appointment was to last for the next 13 years.

During his time at Oxford he was mentor and tutor to a wide range of undergraduates including future poets, university professors and lecturers. Merton College was the type of small and familiar community that Edmund loved - a successor to the communities of Yalding, Christ's Hospital, and the Battalion.

In 1932 he succumbed to the advances of a reviewer on The Nation:Sylva Norman. The relationship that followed was founded in a shared love of literature. His divorce with Mary had only been finalised the year before, he was still supporting Aki Hayashi, and also his sister in law Annie in Hawstead. Despite all this, at the age of 35, he married Sylva on 5th July 1933. Once married they moved into a flat in Woodstock Rd, Oxford, next door to the novelist Graham Greene.

Despite the literary work they enjoyed together, the marriage did not survive. By the autumn of 1939, with Sylva stationed away from Oxford having joined the army, Edmund became aware of the attentions of one of his students: Claire Poynting.

Claire and Edmund shared a love of literature, poetry, and particularly, cricket. Claire, who was studying English Literature at St Hilda's, was a member of Lancashire Cricket Club. She was a regular attendee at Old Trafford, and had first seen Edmund at a University match at Oxford. When Edmund suffered from pleurisy in 1940, Claire nursed him through it. By the end of 1942, Edmund and Claire had made unofficial plans to marry and have a family. Claire was now also in the army and the couple kept in contact through letters. This began a five year correspondence of over 1200 letters.

Previous Page