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Jon Stallworthy obituary

Poet, biographer and literary scholar who became closely linked with the war poet Wilfred Owen

When Jon Stallworthy, who has died aged 79, delivered the British Academy’s Chatterton lecture in 1970, taking as his subject Wilfred Owen, a journey began with the war poet with whom he became almost inextricably linked. Among the audience that night was Owen’s younger brother, Harold, who asked Stallworthy to write the poet’s biography. Thus, in 1971, Stallworthy was commissioned jointly by Oxford University Press and Chatto & Windus to write a biography of Owen and to edit a comprehensive edition of Owen’s poems and fragments.

Wilfred Owen (1974) was called “one of the finest biographies of our time” by Graham Greene and went on to win the Duff Cooper memorial prize (1974), the WH Smith literary award (1975) and the EM Forster award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1976). The two-volume Complete Poems and Fragments (1983) was followed by subsequent editions of the Selected Poems. But Stallworthy travelled with many other poets and along many other paths in the course of his life as a biographer, literary critic, editor, teacher and, above all, a poet in his own right.

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