Collection Level Description: The Owen Archive

Reference: GB 0481 OEF; Owen
Title: Collection Level Description: The Owen Archive
Dates of Creation: 18th-20th century
Held At: University of Oxford, Bodleian Library
Extent: 44 boxes
Name of Creator: Wilfred Owen and Harold Owen
Level of Description: fonds

Language of Material: English and French

Administrative/Biographical History

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) was one of the best known poets of the First World War. See the Dictionary of National Biography, the Wilfred Owen Multimedia Digital Archive (, and Jon Stallworthy's Wilfred Owen (London, 1974) and The Complete Poems and Fragments (London, 1983) for details of Owen's life and work. 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 has also written extensively on Owen, most recently in Wilfred Owen: a New Biography (London, 2002).

Scope and Content

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

Administrative Information

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.

Access Conditions

Entry to read in the Library is permitted only on presentation of a valid reader's card (for admissions procedures see

Existence of Copies

Duplicates of photographs (Owen 34-5) are at Owen 42-3, and should be used in place of the originals where possible. Curatorial permission is needed to access original manuscripts. Researchers should first consult the digital versions available on The First World War Poetry Digital Archive and Jon Stallworthy's edition of Wilfred Owen: The Complete Poems and Fragments, 2 volumes (1983; revised edition 2013).


The original OEF numbers, 1-348, are those given in The Complete Poems and Fragments ed. Jon Stallworthy (London, 1983); the additional numbers, 400-571 were given in the 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'.

Further Information

Finding Aids

There is an unpublished handlist to the collection available in the Library.

Related Units of Description

The Library also holds Owen's own library, of some 450 volumes, with his annotations.

Access Points


War poetry

Blunden | Edmund Charles | 1896-1974 | poet

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

Owen | Wilfred Edward Salter | 1893-1918 | poet

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

Sassoon | Siegfried Loraine | 1886-1967 | poet and author

Gunston | family

Owen | family

Contact Information
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Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
05 September 2016