Saturday, 30 October 2021

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson (1878 – 1962) – British WW1 soldier poet and writer

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson was born in Hexham, Northumberland, UK on 2nd October 1878.  His parents were John Pattison Gibson, a chemist, and his wife, Judith Frances Gibson, nee Walton (1836 - 1902), who were married in September 1861. Wilfried had the following siblings: Frances, b. 1864, Clara, b. 1866, Elizabeth, b. 1869, John, b. 1872, Constance, b. 1873, Anna, b. 1874, Mary, b. 1876, and Muriel, b. 1880.  Elizabeth Gibson also became a poet, later adding her married name of Cheyne. 

In 1912, he left Hexham for London, where he met Rupert Brooke, Edward Marsh and other literary people of that era.  Wilfrid was one of the poets who took advantage of the rooms for rent for poets above Harold Monro’s Poetry Bookshop in London. There he met Harold Monro’s secretary - Geraldine Townshend.   In 1913, Wilfrid and Geraldine were married.  They went to live in Gloucestershire, where Wilfrid was was one of the founders of the Dymock poets. That was a community of writers who settled, shortly before the outbreak of the Great War, in the village of Dymock, in north Gloucestershire.

Wilfrid's p oem to Rupert Brooke

When war broke out, Wilfrid volunteered to join the army but was rejected four times until being accepted as a Private in the Army Service Corps Motor Transport in October 1917, later becoming a medical officer’s clerk in south London. After Rupert Brooke’s death, Wilfrid became one of Brooke's literary executors, along with the poets Lascelles Abercrombie and Walter de la Mare. 

Wilfrid’s poetry collections were: “Thoroughfares” (Elkin Mathews, London, 1914);  “Battle (Elkin Mathews, London, 1915 - reprinted with an introduction by Kelsey Thomton, 1999); “Collected Poems 1905 – 1925 (Macmillan, London, 1926);  “Friends” (Elkin Mathews, London, 1916);  “Livelihood: dramatic reveries” (Macmillan, London, 1917);  “Home” (P. Beaumont, 1920);   “Neighbours” – written in memory of friends killed in the war (Macmillan, London 1920); Twenty-three selected poems (Athenaeum Literature Department, 1919); Sixty-three poems. Selected for use in schools and colleges by E.A. Parker, with a critical intro. (Macmilland, London, 1926).

Wilfrid also had poems included in thirty-two WW1 poetry anthologies. 


I should like to refer you to the wonderful website created by Judy Greenaway, Wilfrid’s Grand-daughter, and trustee of his literary estate

Other sources:  Find my Past

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 139.

NOTE: I have included Wilfrid’s sister Elizabeth in the Female Poets of The First World War section of my project, where you willl find my post about her: