Papers of Dennis Welland

Scope and Content

This large section of the archive is primarily comprised of papers charting the whole history of DW's work on WO, from the initial research for his thesis in 1947 through to his work on 'The posthumous life of Wilfred Owen' in the mid-1990s.

The papers include extensive correspondence; most significant are the letters DW exchanged with key figures in the history of WO's life and work, including Edmund Blunden, Siegfried Sassoon, Harold Owen, Cecil Day-Lewis, Osbert and Edith Sitwell, and Peter Owen (the son of WO's brother Colin). There is also correspondence with other WO researchers, as well as other poets, writers, critics and editors, including: John Butt; Nevill Coghill; David Daiches; D.J. Enright; John Haffenden; Sir Rupert Hart-Davis; Dominic Hibberd; Philip Larkin; I.M. Parsons; Vivian de Sola Pinto; Conal O'Riordan; and Jon Stallworthy.

Research papers spanning the whole period are also included. Most significant is DW's thesis with annotations by Siegfried Sassoon, and the incomplete manuscript of DW's projected book, 'The posthumous life of Wilfred Owen'; there are also typescript talks and articles, and research notes - including extensive notes made during DW's work on the Blunden and Sassoon archives at the Harry Ransom Center in Texas.

DW also acquired other research material from various sources during his work, and some of this is preserved here: of particular note is Edmund Blunden's vellum notebook containing transcripts of WO's poems which he used in the preparation of the 1931 edition; there are also photographic prints of WO copied from originals by John Gunston (including one little-known image of WO in uniform smiling broadly); in addition there are offprints and other publications, and photographic copies of WO manuscripts.

There are groupings of papers relating to specific projects DW was involved in during the later period, including: the publication of the revised and enlarged edition of his Critical study in 1978; his Contact Theatre production focusing on WO and his work in 1988-1990; and initial work on an abortive Dictionary of literary biography volume on English poets of the Great War. There are also letters and papers relating to DW's involvement in the Wilfred Owen Association in the 1990s, including events to mark WO's centenary in 1993.


The papers have been arranged into four groupings. The first three of these all relate to DW's work on WO; they have been divided into chronological groupings which reflect the three distinct periods of his work. The greatest quantity of material dates from the 1940s-60s, when DW was actively researching his thesis, publishing his Critical study, and working on the 1963 edition of WO's poems. There is considerably less material from the 1970s-80s, a period when DW was largely focusing on American Studies, and on his dual role as academic and administrator at Manchester University. The 1990s form another distinct division: this period saw DW renewing his research on WO, and beginning to write 'The posthumous life of Wilfred Owen'. In some cases, material in single files span these chronological divisions; where this occurs, files are placed in the grouping which seems most appropriate from context (e.g. in the chronological period from which most of the papers in the file date). The fourth grouping of papers contains non-WO related material. Arrangement is therefore as follows:

  • DSW/1/1 Papers relating to Welland's Owen research during the 1940s-1960s
  • DSW/1/2 Papers relating to Welland's Owen research during the 1970s-1980s
  • DSW/1/3 Papers relating to Welland's Owen research during the 1990s
  • DSW/1/4 Other papers of Dennis Welland