STARS including Oscar-winning actor Sir Daniel Day-Lewis have helped relaunch a special collection celebrating the work of war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.
Five high-profile faces from the arts world have lent their voices to Edinburgh Napier’s War Poets Collection – Day-Lewis, Olivier-winning stage and screen actor Nathaniel Parker, poet, broadcaster and comedian Ian McMillan, journalist and broadcaster Allan Little and the award-winning author Dr Pat Barker.
Housed at the university’s Craiglockhart campus, the revamped space has been unveiled to mark 100 years since the Craiglockhart Hydropathic was first used as a military hospital to treat shell-shocked officers during the First World War.
Owen and Siegfried Sassoon met in the summer of 1917 whilst being treated there.
A newly created bronze sculpture of Owen – the first of its kind, has also been installed and a poignant light projection, paying tribute to the building’s history during the Great War –will illuminate the façade of the campus building this week.
Sir Daniel has recited seven of Owen’s most famous works specifically for the collection, recording versions of The Send-Off, Sonnet, Dulce et Decorum Est, Anthem for Doomed Youth, Greater Love, Soldier’s Dream and Futility.
His association with Owen’s work stems back to his father, Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis, who edited Owen’s poetry in the 1960s. Sir Daniel’s mother, Jill Balcon, was a vice-president of the Wilfred Owen Association.
Catherine Walker, curator of Edinburgh Napier’s War Poets Collection, said: “Sir Daniel, Nathaniel, Allan, Ian and Pat have all given their time and expertise to support this project.
“Their distinctive voices have really brought the poems to life, giving our visitors an opportunity to hear and fully appreciate the poetry. We are extremely grateful to them.”
Peter Owen, nephew of Wilfred Owen, has highlighted the importance of the War Poet’s Collection.
He said: “Craiglockhart War Poet’s Collection is at the very heart of the meeting between Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. This meeting at Craiglockhart which led to Wilfred’s poetry of the Great War is made so evident by their War Poets Collection. Without a doubt Craiglockhart is where Wilfred’s poetry began.”
The collection has been funded through the support of The Binks Trust and other key donors. The sculpture of Owen was donated to the War Poets Collection by award-winning artist Anthony Padgett.
He said: “Owen’s time at Craiglockhart had a big impact in his life and his poetry so it’s fantastic that this has been further recognised with what I hope is a fitting tribute.”