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R.I.P. Dominic Hibberd

By Harriet Staff

From The Guardian:

Dominic Hibberd, who has died aged 70, was the world’s leading authority on the life and work of Wilfred Owen. In 1973 he became the fourth editor of Owen’s war poems, following Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden and Cecil Day-Lewis. His critical work Owen the Poet (1986) was a study of what Owen himself had termed his “poethood”. It included corrections and re-readings of texts, and revealed a continuity in Owen’s poetic voice, establishing that much of the language and imagery of the 1917-18 poems was in place long before Owen experienced the realities of the western front. Wilfred Owen: The Last Year (1992) emphasised the importance of Owen’s shell-shock doctor Arthur Brock, and of Sassoon, in suggesting war as a subject for his poetry.

And, later,

Graduating from King’s College, Cambridge, in 1964, Hibberd taught at Manchester grammar school and subsequently at the universities of Exeter and Keele, and at universities in the US and China. His widespread criticism, together with anthologies such as The Winter of the World (2007), co-edited with John Onions, made him a significant influence on the formation of a canon of first world war poetry. In 2001 he published a biography of the poet and bookshop owner Harold Monro which claimed proper recognition for the man who had probably done more than any other to promote the work of the war poets.

Hibberd was a shy and diffident man, so quietly spoken that one sometimes had to lean forward to catch what he was saying, though he could be an accomplished public speaker. In 2010 he was diagnosed with Pick’s disease. The deterioration of his health was swift, though he was proud to attend a ceremony at Cambridge University, where he was awarded an honorary DLitt.

He is survived by his civil partner, the actor and writer Tom Coulthard.

Full obituary, including more on the importance of Hibberd’s Owen scholarship, here.

Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.