Wilfrid Wilson Gibson : people's poet : a critical and biographical study of W.W. Gibson 1878-1962
The scope of this dissertation embraces two elements. It sets out to be a chronological account of the life of the poet and also to offer an evaluative, critical account and Judgement of each of his publications. By blending these two elements in each chapter I have tried to demonstrate my introductory view that the poet's autobiography is to be read both in the life story and in the poems. The method of investigation of the life has depended almost entirely on the examination of primary sources. All of Gibson's own papers were destroyed by the time of his death and it seemed as though there was no material from which to build a biography. Gibson, however, was a prolific correspondent and by careful study of his letters, well saved by their recipients, I found the story of his life unfolding. The critical Judgements are largely my own but I investigated some scant secondary material which included chapters in books, review articles, references in literary histories and other people's biographies which helped me to shape my opinions. The ordering of the dissertation is entirely chronological, divided into chapters marking major or significant changes or moments in the poet's life and work. As a larger, simplifying and clarifying form of division I have distinguished three phases that mark off Gibson's periods of Romantic, Realist and finally Dialect and Lyric Poet. I have concluded that Gibson, though now almost entirely neglected, deserves credit as a minor poet, much more than he has so far received: for being the first Edwardian poet who pared his language of all postromantic excess and wrote plainly; for being the instigator of the Realism in poetry which was proclaimed by the Georgian Realistic Revolt and for being the first poet of the Great War who wrote from the viewpoint of the common soldier, in plain language, and so being an important influence on the major war poets Sassoon, Rosenberg and Owen, who read him and who wrote after him. His clear, distinctive voice makes for a poetry of intrinsic merit and broad appeal.