Born in Hexham, Northumberland, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson began writing poetry at an early age, eventually adopting it as his full-time occupation and moving to London in 1912. Suffering from health problems at the outbreak of the War, Gibson tried to enlist at least four times but was rejected each time. In October 1917 he was considered fit enough to join the Army Service Corps Motor Transport, spending the rest of the war in London. Dominic Hibberd, writing on the War Poets Association website says
Critics and anthologists have often undervalued Gibson’s achievement as a war poet by assuming he wrote from personal trench experience. Actually he never served abroad, but in 1914 he was ahead of all other poets in responding to the plight of ordinary soldiers. While others were being grandly rhetorical and patriotic, Gibson was trying to imagine front-line realities, using his spare, Georgian style and his ready sympathy with the underprivileged.
In 1915 he published Battle, a collection of his war poetry which had a key influence on later wartime poets including Isaac Rosenberg, Robert Graves, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.
Wilfrid Wilson Gibson’s Poems
Image: Special Collections and Archives, University of Gloucestershire