Papers relating to Welland's Owen research during the 1940s-1960s

Scope and Content

This group of material is principally comprised of papers documenting the earlier period of DW's research into WO and his poetry, dating from his initial enquiries in 1947, through the writing of his thesis, his acquaintance with key figures such as Blunden and Sassoon, his pioneering work on the WO manuscripts, the problems he encountered in the form of Harold Owen's copyright restrictions on the WO papers, the subsequent and long-delayed publication of DW's Wilfred Owen: a critical study in (1960), and his collaboration with Cecil Day-Lewis in compiling the 1963 edition of WO's Collected poems. There is extensive correspondence generated by DW during the course of his research - with individuals who had known WO, other students and researchers working on WO (including in the latter years of this period well-known writers on WO from a later generation, such as Dominic Hibberd and Jon Stallworthy), and with well-known writers, critics and editors (including Conal O'Riordan, I.M. Parsons, Vivian de Sola Pinto, John Butt and Nevill Coghill). Most important, however, is the correspondence with poets and others who had known WO and who played a significant role in the 'posthumous life' of his work and reputation. These include: Edmund Blunden (who was generous with his advice and support during DW's research); Siegfried Sassoon (who also offered information, and annotated DW's PhD thesis with his own comments); Cecil Day-Lewis; E. Leslie Gunston; Harold Owen; Osbert and Edith Sitwell; and Robert Graves. Many of DW's own research notes and papers are preserved here, including his thesis with Sassoon's annotations, and Edmund Blunden's notebook containing transcriptions of WO's poems, made when Blunden was compiling his 1931 edition. There are photographic prints of WO taken from originals by John Gunston, as well as copies of - and notes on - WO's manuscripts from various sources. The material also includes related publications (mainly offprints) acquired by DW during this period, as well as reviews of his own book.


The series listed below are based on record type and follow DW's arrangement of his own papers where this can be determined. There are three separate sequences of correspondence: the first, a structured sequence of alphabetical files covering the earliest period, was organized by DW during the 1990s when he was using his own archive as research material for his unfinished book, 'The posthumous life of Wilfred Owen'. The second, small, sequence of labelled files perhaps represents the embryo of a second, later series, which DW did not have the opportunity to complete; and the third, chronologically-arranged, series has been put together by the archivist - although where material had been brought together into bundles or files by DW, these units have been retained. The series are as follows:

  • /1 Alphabetical series of correspondence files
  • /2 Other labelled files
  • /3 General correspondence
  • /4 Research material and papers
  • /5 Reviews of Wilfred Owen: a critical study
  • /6 Publications and printed material
  • /7 Miscellaneous material

Related Material

A small quantity of further papers dating from this early period can be found in DSW/1/3/3/3, a research file dating principally from the 1990s, in which the earlier papers were being used by DW as source material for his unfinished book, 'The posthumous life of Wilfred Owen'.