- c.1880s - 1985 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Michael Gibson, son of the poet Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, donated this series of personal effects from his father in 1995. The collection chiefly relates to the life of W W Gibson and includes a small selection of letters and photographs as well as legal documents relating to the poet’s army career. W W Gibson attempted to enlist in the army on several occasions but failed due to poor eyesight. In 1917 he was successful but only served as a clerk for the Royal Army Service Corp in south London. Despite never having seen active service his 1915 book of poems, "Battle", is considered by many to be the first war poem to realistically portray the horror of war and its affect on the common soldier in the style later made famous by Wilfred Owen.
W W Gibson moved with his wife Geraldine to The Old Nailshop, Greenway Cross near Dymock in 1913 to join fellow poet Lascelles Abercrombie and there, together with Robert Frost, Edward Thomas and the frequent visitors John Drinkwater and Rupert Brooke he became part of what has subsequently been described as a 'muse colony'. His friendship with Rupert Brooke led to Gibson being one of three poets to whom Brooke assigned all copyright and royalty fees prior to his death in 1915, a bequest which guaranteed Gibson financial security for the rest of his life.
During the hey-day of Georgian Poetry, Gibson was one of the most popular and best-known poets in the country. His preoccupation with the labouring classes, especially in his native Northumberland, led to the mantle 'The People’s Poet’. Although his popularity declined as Georgianism was overtaken by the radical new modernism of Ezra Pound and T S Eliot, Gibson continued to write and publish well into old age. He retains the rare distinction of being a war poet of both world wars, having published "Searchlights" in 1943. Gibson never recovered his early success. He died in a nursing home in Virginia Waters, Surrey in 1962.
Michael Gibson died in 2000