November 2020
Jane's research and teaching focuses on book and literary history and she has published widely on many aspects of war literature, book history, and women's writing. A Trustee of the Wilfred Owen Literary Estate, she is the author of Wilfred Owen: An Illustrated Life (Bodleian Library Publishing, 2014) and is currently working on a new edition of Owen's Selected Letters for Oxford University Press. Celebrated as one of the greatest poets of the First World War, Wilfred Owen is less recognised as an accomplished prose writer. Yet as Dominic Hibberd has argued, ‘Even if he had written no poems he would deserve to be remembered as one of the finest letters writers of his century’ In this talk, Jane Potter will consider the ways in which Owen's letters not only provide the raw material for his poetry, but are intrinsic to a rounded view of the man and the poet. Owen kept ‘no Diary’ but as John Bell and Harold Owen observed in 1967, his letters ‘constitute an autobiography of great interest and great candour’. They reveal a young man’s ‘journey from obscurity’ to become a respected ‘a poet's poet’, complex, thoughtful, and often wickedly witty. A mature, unique poetic voice emerges from Owen’s correspondence, forged in the crucible of war, but also rooted in years of emotional turmoil and literary apprenticeship. Compiled, edited, and interpreted after Owen’s death by various hands, the letters, in their very materiality and conservation, also expose the competing public and private interests in Owen’s reputation over the course of 100 years. The now infamous ‘editing’ out by his mother Susan and brother Harold are themselves part of Owen’s legacy. Drawing on extensive research at the Harry Ransom Centre, Austin, Texas and the Weston Library, Oxford for her new edition of Owen's Selected Letters, Jane Potter will look afresh at the correspondence — Owen’s autobiography — and its key role in his carefully constructed — and sometimes highly contested — afterlife. Premiers Tuesday 13th October at 7.30 simply click on
Saturday 13th October Live on You Tube from 7pm - see day by day in association with Edinburgh Napier University
They are my only diary”: Owen’s Letters - Autobiography and Afterlife Dr Jane Potter