Owen, Sassoon and Graves: how a golf club in Scotland became the crucible for the greatest war poetry

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    In June 1917, shell-shocked and exhausted from his experiences on the Western Front, the young English poet Wilfred Owen was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh to recuperate.

    Much of our awareness of Owen’s time at Craiglockhart comes from Pat Barker’s beautifully crafted novel Regeneration (1991), and Stephen MacDonald’s play Not About Heroes (1982). MacDonald’s work focused mainly on the relationship between Owen and fellow soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon, while Barker focused on Sassoon and Craiglockhart psychiatrist William Rivers. Both works are to be commended, but they are essentially fictional accounts.

    Part of the hospital’s plans to restore traumatised British officers to health was to put these men to work in the professions they knew. For Owen, this would include teaching English at Tynecastle High School, returning him to the reassuring rhythms of work routines.

    Period7 Jul 2017

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