Although he was born in London, Edmund Charles Blunden’s early years were spent in Yalding, a small English village, where his father was employed as a schoolmaster. For the next thirteen years, Blunden’s experience of life was formed in Yalding, where the age-old rhythms of agriculture held sway. In 1909, Blunden entered Christ College, a public school in London. Already endowed with both scholarly interests and a desire to write, Blunden won the Senior Classics scholarship to Queen’s College, Oxford, in 1914. As it did for many in his generation, World War I interrupted Blunden’s further studies.
In 1915, Blunden earned a commission in the Royal Sussex Regiment and was in active service until 1917. Although two books of his poetry were accepted for publication before enlisting—The Harbingers and Pastorals—Blunden developed his poetic voice during active service. After the war and a brief stint at Oxford, he soon joined the staff of the Athenaeum, a literary journal. For most of the next four decades, Blunden’s work life oscillated between literary journalism and teaching. For instance, a teaching post at Merton College, Oxford, lasted from 1931 to 1941 and was immediately followed by a job with the Times Literary Supplement, from 1941 to 1947.
From 1947 until his retirement in 1964, Blunden lived in Asia, first working in Japan and later taking a professorship of English literature at the University of Hong Kong. In 1966, after returning to England, Blunden was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, a post he almost rejected because of ill health. By the early 1970’s, the long-term effects of his war wounds forced him to retire from active life. He died in Long Melford, Suffolk, England, on January 20, 1974.
Often described as a “Georgian” poet and admired for his loving descriptions of the rural English landscape, Edmund Blunden was also a noted poet of World War I, the contemporary of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, and Isaac Rosenberg. His Undertones of War is one of the great literary memoirs of the Great War. Blunden was also a scholar, particularly of the Romantic poets, Charles Lamb, and Thomas Hardy, a teacher and tutor of English literature in Oxford, Japan, and Hong Kong and a long-serving journalist, reviewer, and editor.
Educated in Cleaves Grammar School, Christ’s Hospital, Blunden served as a lieutenant with the Royal Sussex Regiment, received the military cross, and was wounded and gassed. After the war he studied briefly at Queen’s College, Oxford, before becoming a subeditor for J. Middleton Murry on the Athenaeum . Poor health forced him to take a tramp steamer cruise to South America,...
(The entire section is 668 words.)