A series of events taking place this summer and autumn will commemorate the centenary of war poet Wilfred Owen’s stay at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh in 1917, where he met fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon and produced some of his most famous work.
The commemorations will open with a re-enactment of Owen’s arrival at Waverley train station, with other events including the premiere of a poem written to mark the occasion by the National Poet for Scotland Jackie Kay and a special screening of Regeneration, a film about Siegfried Sassoon and his doctor.
The commemorations will begin on 26 June, a century to the day since Owen arrived in Edinburgh. The Caledonian Sleeper will arrive in Waverley station, where a Great War re-enactor playing Owen and Peter Owen, the poet’s nephew, will be met by Edinburgh’s Makar Christine De Luca, who will welcome them by reciting an Owen poem.
Violinist Thoren Ferguson will be playing the Wilfred Owen Violin, which was created from a sycamore tree in the grounds of the Craiglockhart War Hospital. World War One re-enactors will be positioned along Princes Street, where they will distribute leaflets with Owen’s poem ‘Six o’clock in Princes Street’.
Later the same day, Edinburgh Napier University will host a lecture by distinguished historian Professor Sir Hew Strachan on the First World War, with a particular focus on 1917, at Craiglockhart Campus, the former site of the hospital.
On 10 August, poet Helen Boden will lead a unique creative writing workshop, rerecreating a walk through the Pentland Hills that was frequently taken by Owen and other residents of Craiglockhart. Another lecture will be delivered at Craiglockhart Campus on 15 August by Dr Neil McLennan, author of a forthcoming book about the poet’s stay in the area.
Jackie Kay will premiere her poem at a special event on 16 August, and on 17 August, the Filmhouse will screen Regeneration, the 1997 adaptation of Pat Barker’s novel about Siegfried Sassoon and Dr William H. R. Rivers, his doctor at Craiglockhart War Hospital. The screening will be introduced by the film’s screenwriter Allan Shiach.
On 3 November, Owen’s last day in Edinburgh in 1917, the Scottish Poetry Library will hold a special event on Owen’s legacy.
Owen was sent to Craiglockhart to recover from shellshock, and whilst recuperating, met Sassoon, who had been sent to the hospital following his declaration against the continuation of the war after serving on the front. Encouraged by Sassoon, Owen began to write the poems that were to be his legacy, composing two of his most famous works: ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.
The commemorative events have been organised by Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh 1917-2017, a committee comprised of a wide range of organisations including the Wilfred Owen Association, Edinburgh Napier University, veterans charities Glen Art and Poppy Scotland, independent cinema Filmhouse, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Scottish Poetry Library, and more.
More information about all events to follow.