The First World War inspired a lot of writing in England, understandably so, for it was the first war in which the elite was actively involved. Conscription, and also the patriotic fervor that was whipped up in the first war to be fought as much by the media as the military, led to a number of literary figures being actively involved.
English fiction however is not as memorable as that of other countries, with the writer of war stories who has lasted longest being John Buchan with his Boy’s Own Adventure type of tale. The poetry however was remarkable, and a range of writers taken together express the angst of a generation led to what in retrospect seems unnecessary slaughter.
I will look in this series however at only a single writer, who was far and away the best. Though many such as Rupert Brooke and Raymond Asquith (son of the Prime Minister, killed in battle, a phenomenon that we have not seen repeated since in wars we know of) and Julian Grenfell wrote individual poems that are moving and memorable, it is only Wilfred Owen who presented a wider perspective as to the whole ghastly business.