Roehampton Uni To Share War Knowledge

Offering a unique insight into war poets at Wimbledon BookFest

Outstanding poets and researchers David Harsent, Fiona Sampson and Paul O’Prey will illuminate Wimbledon’s BookFest in October, when they share favourite works including war poetry with audiences, it has just been confirmed.

Fiona Sampson, editor of Poem Magazine, and her University of Roehampton colleague David Harsent, an award winning poet and scriptwriter, will host a daytime writing workshop on Sunday 12 October, for just 12 people in the beautiful historic surroundings of Southside House.

Later that day the pair will host a recital where audiences will hear from David, whose work has been performed at the Royal Opera House and the Proms, as well as enjoying readings from Fiona’s 27 books of poetry.

On the same day, as the nation remembers those who died in World War One a century on, Paul O’Prey, a world expert on renowned soldier poet Robert Graves will discuss his new anthology Poems From The Front.

Professor O’Prey, Vice-Chancellor at Roehampton, and president of the War Poets Association, challenges the view that all war poetry was of the anti-combat variety. He will explain how many of his subjects wrote about what they saw and did without flinching, and discovered, in the darkest days of the war, a great compassion and a renewed sense of humanity.

Professor O’Prey, who lived with Graves in the last years of his life will provide a unique insight into the poet’s controversial work ‘November 11’. The poem was deemed unpublishable until the 1960s because of its portrayal of public celebrations on Armistice Day.

Fiona Razvi , director of Wimbledon Bookfest said:
“We could not hope for a more thought-provoking poetry line up than we have at this year’s BookFest, and we’re excited to host so many of the University’s high profile scholars. Students are lucky to learn from people so respected in their field, and I’m very pleased we can bring them to the festival for Londoners to share their passion.

She continued:
“The rare chance to hear from Paul O’Prey a century on from the start of the First World War about how the soldiers and medics in the trenches saw the horrors, ironies and bitterness of the war will be particularly revealing.”

Other poetry-based events taking place during the festival include, an evening of Irish poetry and music with Dónal Cox on 4 October, and readings of the works of Chilean Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda by actress Juliet Stevenson on 8 October.

Tickets and more details are available at

August 7, 2014