The Owen Archive

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford


Department of Special Collections
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Consulting material: To consult archives and manuscripts, a full and unrestricted Bodleian reader's card (Group A) is required. You should apply for your card at the Admissions Office.

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Shelfmark(s): OEF; Owen
Title: The Owen Archive
Dates of Creation: 18th-20th century
Extent: 46 boxes
Language(s) of Material: English


Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) was one of the best known poets of the First World War. For details of his life and work see the World War I Poetry Digital Archive; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and Jon Stallworthy's Wilfred Owen (London, 1974) and Wilfred Owen: The Complete Poems and Fragments (London, 1983; revised 2013). Wilfred's younger brother (William) Harold Owen (1897-1971) wrote about his brother, himself and the family in two (auto)biographical accounts: Journey from Obscurity (London, 1963-5) and Aftermath (London, 1970). He also co-edited Wilfred's letters, with John Bell, published as Wilfred Owen: Collected Letters (London, 1967). Dominic Hibberd also wrote extensively on Owen; his Wilfred Owen: A New Biography was published in 2002. See also Guy Cuthbertson, Wilfred Owen (2014).

Scope and Content

The collection includes autograph manuscripts of Wilfred Owen and the papers of Harold Owen, primarily concerning his brother, including correspondence and a large collection of press cuttings. There are also family photographs, artefacts, and artwork. The collection is arranged in two sections, OEF and Owen family archive, as follows:

(OEF 1-348, 400-571) Wilfred Owen's autograph manuscripts, and other papers of special interest:

(Owen 1-47) mostly material collected by Harold Owen. The section is arranged as follows:

Restrictions on access

Curatorial permission is needed to access original manuscripts. Researchers should first consult the digital versions available on the World War I Poetry Digital Archive and Jon Stallworthy's edition of Wilfred Owen: The Complete Poems and Fragments (London, 1983; revised 2013).

Duplicates of photographs (Owen 34-5) are at Owen 42-3, and are used in place of the originals.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of the collection was presented to the English Faculty by the widow of Harold Owen in 1975. The Gunston collection was donated in 1978. Some small additions were made later. On 13 January 2016 the collection was transferred to the Bodleian Library.


The original OEF numbers, 1-348, are those given in The Complete Poems and Fragments ed. Jon Stallworthy (London, 1983; revised 2013); the additional numbers, 400-571 were given in the Oxford English Faculty Library in 1991-2 (the numbers 349-99 were not used). The arrangement of poems in OEF 1-348 follows The Complete Poems and Fragments which arranges poems in assumed order of final drafts; Stallworthy refers to the Gunston Collection (OEF 472-526) as 'LG', and the Hewland Collection (OEF 472-526) as 'Hewland'.

Other Finding Aids

An unpublished handlist to the collection is available in the Library.

Books from Owen’s own library of some 450 volumes, with his annotations, are separately catalogued on SOLO.

Access Point(s)

Blunden | Edmund Charles | 1896-1974 | poet

Graves | Robert Ranke | 1895-1985 | poet and author

Gunston | family

Owen | family

Owen | Wilfred Edward Salter | 1893-1918 | poet

Owen | William Harold | 1897-1971 | brother of Wilfred Owen

Sassoon | Siegfried | 1886-1967 | poet


War poetry

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12 April 2017