Jessie Pope was born in Leicester, England and educated at the North London Collegiate School for Girls. Pope was a prolific writer of occasional poetry and prose, and her work was published widely in periodicals such as the Daily Express, the Evening Standard, The Queen, and the Westminster Gazette. In particular, she wrote humorous verses for Punch magazine, contributing over 170 between 1902 and 1922. Her first books collected poems that had first appeared in periodicals: Paper Pellets (1906) and Airy Nothings (1909). In her lifetime, Pope was known as the “foremost woman humorist” in England. Pope was also instrumental in editing, and bowdlerizing, Robert Noonan’s novel of class struggle and strife, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914).
Her posthumous reputation, however, rests on the patriotic verses she wrote during World War I. Originally published in the Daily Mail and other papers, Pope collected her war poems into books such as Jessie Pope’s War Poems (1915), More War Poems (1915), and Simply Rhymes for Stirring Times (1916). Glorifying combat, exhorting men to fight, and generally romanticizing war, Pope’s poems have been vilified as jingoistic doggerel. Most famously, Wilfred Owen ironically dedicated his poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” to her, though he subsequently erased the dedication. After the war, Pope continued writing and publishing, including the novel Love on Leave (1919) and the collection of verses Hits and Misses (1920). Her writing for children includes the illustrated Animal Fun and Frolic (1930). Pope died in Devon.
Poems by Jessie Pope
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