remembering the first world war

Study Day, Saturday 3 November 2018, 2.00 pm–5.30 pm

Price: £50.00 / £45.00 students. Tea and coffee provided.
Venue: Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge CB22 5BP
Bookings now open. 

CAMcard holders can book at the student price. Please bring proof of status to the event.



War and memory

It is 100 years since the First World War ended. Its bitter legacy was felt long into the twentieth century and beyond. Two leading scholars explore some of the beautiful and disturbing writings of the war. How does that literature speak to us now? 

 Ivor Gurney

Ivor Gurney

Ivor Gurney and Wilfred Owen
War Poetry, War Music

Kate Kennedy, Oxford

The First World War, more than any other conflict, is viewed through the literature it inspired. Wilfred Owen is one of the most influential of the war poets.

How strongly has Owen’s verse shaped our sense of what war poetry should be? How has he influenced our understanding of the war itself?

We will also look at Ivor Gurney, war poet and composer. When all the other war poets were saying ‘Goodbye to All That’ after the Armistice, Gurney, abandoned and alone in a mental asylum remained a war poet well into the 1920s. Gurney wrote his trench experiences into his music as well as his poetry. We will explore Gurney's poetry and song to understand his unique sense of war and mental illness.


 Käthe Kollwitz, Trauernde Eltern (Grieving Parents)

Käthe Kollwitz, Trauernde Eltern (Grieving Parents)

The Shock and Sadness of War

Trudi Tate, Cambridge

How did civilians bear witness to the trauma of the First World War? Did civilians suffer from shell shock? After the war, both civilians and veterans felt disappointed and disillusioned by the peace. What had the war achieved? This lecture explores First World War writings of Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, and others.

The day ends with a round-table discussion in which everyone can participate.


Kate Kennedy is Associate Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, and author of a forthcoming biography of Ivor Gurney.

Trudi Tate is Fellow of Clare Hall, Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of English, Cambridge, and Director of Literature Cambridge. Her books include Modernism, History and the First World War (rev. edn 2013), Women's Fiction and the Great War, and Women, Men and the Great War. Website.

Both lecturers have published widely on the First World War. Their joint publications include The Silent Morning: Culture and Memory After the Armistice (2013) and special issues of the journals First World War Studies (2011) and the Ivor Gurney Journal (2007).

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All ages are are welcome to join us for a taste (or a reminder) of the best of university education. Free place for a teacher bringing 5+ students. Contact us for details:


Ivor Gurney
Strange Service

Little did I dream, England, that you bore me

Under the Cotswold hills beside the water meadows,

To do you dreadful service, here, beyond your borders

And your enfolding seas.

I was a dreamer ever, and bound to your dear service,

Meditating deep, I thought on your secret beauty,

As through a child's face one may see the clear spirit

Miraculously shining.

Your hills not only hills, but friends of mine and kindly,

Your tiny knolls and orchards hidden beside the river

Muddy and strongly flowing, with shy and tiny streamlets

Safe in its bosom.

Now these are memories only, and your skies and rushy sky-pools
Fragile mirrors easily broken by moving airs ...

But deep in my heart for ever goes on your daily being,

And uses consecrate.

Think on me too, O Mother, who wrest my soul to serve you

In strange and fearful ways beyond your encircling waters;

None but you can know my heart, its tears and sacrifice;

None, but you, repay.



Ivor Gurney Society, manuscripts.
First World War Poetry digital archive.
Wilfred Owen biography and poems at the Poetry Foundation (US).
Ivor Gurney biography and poems at the Poetry Foundation (US).
Rudyard Kipling, ‘Mary Postgate’ (1915), on Kipling Society website. This story can also be found in the story collection, A Diversity of Creatures.
Great War Fiction, blog by George Simmers.

Banner image: Shokoofeh Poorreza, Unsplash