Wilfrid Wilson Gibson

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Wilfrid Wilson Gibson (2 October 1878 – 26 May 1962) was a British Georgian poet, associated with World War I but also the author of much later work.

Early work

Gibson was born in Hexham, Northumberland, and left the north for London in 1914 after his mother died. He had been publishing poems in magazines since 1895, and his first collections in book form were published by Elkin Mathews in 1902. His collections of verse plays and dramatic poems The Stonefolds and On The Threshold were published by the Samurai Press (of Cranleigh) in 1907, followed next year by the book of poems, The Web of Life.[1]

Despite his residence in London and later on in Gloucestershire, many of Gibson's poems both then and later, have Northumberland settings: Hexham's Market Cross; Hareshaw; and The Kielder Stone. Others deal with poverty and passion amid wild Northumbrian landscapes. Still others are devoted to fishermen, industrial workers and miners, often alluding to local ballads and the rich folk-song heritage of the North East.

It was in London that he met both Edward Marsh and Rupert Brooke, becoming a close friend and later Brooke's literary executor (with Lascelles Abercrombie and Walter de la Mare).[2] This was at the period when the first Georgian Poetry anthology was being hatched. Gibson was one of the insiders.[3]

During the early part of his writing life, Wilfrid Wilson Gibson wrote poems that featured the "macabre." One such poem is Flannan Isle, based on a real life mystery.

Gibson was one of the founders of the so-called ”Dymock poets”, a community of writers who settled briefly, before the outbreak of the Great War, in the village of Dymock, in north Gloucestershire.[4]


His reputation was eclipsed somewhat by the Ezra Pound-T. S. Eliot school of Modernist poetry;[5][6] his work remained popular.

Further reading

  • Dominic Hibberd, Wilfrid Gibson and Harold Monro, the Pioneers (Cecil Woolf, 2006)


  1. '"Young men who knew that the age demanded something new in poetry were impressed by the austerity of his little 'working class' plays". (Joy Grant, Harold Monro & the Poetry Bookshop (1966), p.19. Whistler p.281 remarks on the colloquial, homespun realism that at first was admired in Gibson.
  2. Gibson met de la Mare, and quite a number of other poets, through Marsh (Theresa Whistler, Imagination of the Heart: The Life of Walter de la Mare (1993), p.205 and 208) in 1912. It was with de la Mare that Gibson was to make the closest friendship. Gentle and unlucky, he himself best fitted Brooke's description of those good-hearted and simple and nice poets he wanted to protect.
  3. Paul Delany, The Neo-Pagans (1987), p.199, writes of a business lunch 19 September 1912 at Marsh's flat, with Gibson, John Drinkwater, Harold Monro and Arundel del Re.
  4. Famous People of Herefordshire, Monmouthshire and Royal Forest of Dean at royalforestofdean.info
  5. The Literary Encyclopedia states that his reputation plummeted. Whistler p.282 has Gibson's was the saddest fate of all the Georgians. Once acclaimed as the leader of an exciting new movement, , when that movement came into derision the critics found in him the epitome of its vices.
  6. A. Clutton-Brock (TLS, 24 February 1927, Five Modern Poets) considers Gibson alongside Eliot, AE, Herbert Read and James Stephens (pp 113-114). It is concluded there that "Mr Gibson's poetry... has its own specific qualities and is, in its essentials unique". In 1942 Philip Tomlinson refers to Gibson as "this distinguished poet" (TLS 31 January 1942 p.57).

External links