Wilfred Owen Grand Epic Novel – The Silver Swan – The Life and Times of Wilfred Owen


It is very probable that the First World War was the greatest catastrophe to come upon the peoples of the British Isles since the Black Death Plague of the 14th Century.


The Silver Swan, who,
Living had no note,
When Death approached,
Unlocked her silent throat,
Thus sung her first and last,
And sung no more:
Farwell all joys;
O Death,
Come close mine eyes;

More geese than swans now live,
More fools than wise

 Text of the Madrigal composed by Orlando Gibbons – originally printed in 1610

Wilfred Owen Grand Epic Novel has been written by Robert Christoforides.

Robert has spent over  24 years taking a serious interest in Wilfred Owen who was an English-Welsh poet and soldier and who became one of the leading poets of the First World War.

Robert obtained Jon Stallworthy’s ‘Wilfred Owen – The Complete Poems and Fragments’, which transcribed the manuscripts left behind by Owen at his death on 4th November 1918.

It appeared to him, from his training as a forensic lawyer, and inspired by the completions of Mahler’s 10th symphony,  Bruckner’s 9th symphony and  (justified by the later completion of)  Elgar’s 3rd symphony,  that it was ethically possible, just like music, to render many of the fragments into reading versions of poems with which the general reader was wholly unfamiliar.

Further, it transpired that some additions or elaborations could also be sensibly made to poems hitherto published in apparently ‘final’ form.

Further, he was able to construct, from the fragments, an at least provisional ‘completion’ of ‘Strange Meeting’; this also, after forensically inspecting the relevant manuscripts at the British Library and The English Faculty Library, Oxford.

He has also produced new and insightful elaborations of ‘Spring Offensive’.

Overall, this work produced about 80 ‘new’ or additional poems and is now available on Amazon for Kindle as a complete book to read.

Kindle Format

That work done, and after an extensive study of Owen’s extant letters, he embarked on the writing of ‘biographical-novel’ extracts of Owen’s life.  These texts were written over the last 20 years, during which he carried out extensive research, which included several visits to all relevant places important in Owen’s life in Britain and France.

This writing gradually expanded into an epic novel on the life and times of Wilfred Owen.  This monumental novel (over 3,000 pages on Kindle) commences with Owen’s birth, and the situation immediately preceding it, and ends with his death and its immediate aftermath.

Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder, otherwise Shell-Shock or Neurasthenia, looms large in Owen’s life after his experiences at the Front in early 1917.

This condition is better understood in the modern era. It can now be treated.

It seems that it was first observed in the First World War and was then commonly referred to as ‘shell-shock’ and, in medical circles, as ‘neurasthenia’ – (and, despite various procedures adopted at the time, was probably untreatable then in the sense of any actually permanent recovery).
Owen’s experience of PTSD seemingly appeared after a concussion caused by an accident in March 1917; although it is probable that he was suffering with it before then.

The official Report of the findings of the Proceedings of the Medical Board at Welsh Hospital Netley, dated 25 June 1917, reads:-

2/Lieut. Wilfred Owen
(Corps) 5/attd.2/Manchesters.
Age 24
Service 1.9/12

Disability Neurasthenia (143)

In March 1917 he fell down a well at Bouchoir, and was momentarily stunned. He was under Medical treatment for 2 weeks, and then resumed duty. About the middle of April he was blown up by a shell explosion while he was asleep. On May 1st. he was observed to be shaky and tremulous, and his conduct and manner were peculiar, and his memory was confused. The R.M.C sent him to No. 41 Sty. H.Gailly where he was under observation and treatment by Capt. Brown R.A.M.C Neurological Specialist for a month. On 7/6/17 he was transferred to No. 1 G.H. Etretat, and on 16/6/17 to the Welsh Hospital Netley. There is little abnormality to be observed but he seems to be of a highly strung temperament. He slept well while here. He leaves Hospital to-day transferred to Craig Lockhart War Hospital, Edinburgh for special observation and treatment.

The Report further states that he was boarded;-

Unfit for General Service for six months;
Unfit for Home Service for three months;
Unfit for Light Duty at Home for three months;
That this boarded disability was contracted ‘in the service’;
Under circumstances over which he had no control;
And that it was caused by military service – that is, his Active Service in France.

So it is then, and thus, that Owen duly arrived at Craiglockhart on 26th June 1917.

In this we see the ‘official’ historical record … so far as it can take us.

Ethical questions arise in respect of the writing of a biographical novel – most particularly when it concerns the ‘history’ of a man who lived and died in the relatively recent past.

How could such a ‘historical’, but yet also ‘fictional’, work be ‘truthful’? A work in which fact meets fiction and fiction meets fact, sowing in the mind a yet other ‘reality’ – where, paraphrasing Einstein, imagination is more important than any concrete, conventionally factual, knowledge.

Such questions raise ethical and philosophical complexities and ‘tensions’; and, whereas, it may be that ‘Truth has no Fixed Point’, a heavy responsibility must fall upon an author of such a work; that is, in the context of the generally conventional approach as to what ‘truth’ actually is.

Even so, it may yet be helpful to consider this – that is, as to how such ‘truth’ issues may be approached – for example, by reference to David E. Mercer’s book, Kierkegaard’s Living-Room, at page 67, as extracted here:-

History is of no value in the pursuit of truth … even time, in the sense of the moment, has no meaning or value in the Socratic model … for Socrates, the only aspect of reality that is concrete is the experience of the eternal that is found in the self … the point of departure in time is of no value … the temporal point of departure is the present … the relation between the past, the present and the future is vital in the understanding of the relation between the historical and the eternal … there is no ‘here’ or ‘there’ , only an ‘ubique et nusquam’ (only an ‘everywhere and nowhere’) … the proper category for the present is the eternal … the present does not seem to fit into any recognizable category, because it has no fixed point in time or space; and yet it is always present and is everywhere …

This Wilfred Owen Grand Epic Novel by ROBERT ALEXANDER CHRISTOFORIDES  is now available to purchase on Amazon for Kindle named “THE SILVER SWAN or THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILFRED OWEN, A BIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL”.   This has been broken down into three books and each of these has been broken down into 4 sections due to their size.  These are available now on Amazon Kindle to allow the purchase of the whole novel or one can purchase the individual books or just the sections that are of interest to you.

Further details are available on the Books to Purchase page.