Owen, born near Oswestry, Shropshire, died in France. He was educated at the Birkenhead Institute in Liverpool, and at Shrewsbury Technical School. He also went to University College, Reading. He worked as a pupil-teacher at Wyle Cop School.
In 1913 he went to teach English in Bordeaux at the Berlitz School of Languages. He enlisted in the Artist's Rifles in 1915. During his leaves at the end of 1915 and during February to March 1916 he stayed at the Poetry Bookshop set up by Harold Monro.
In January 1917 he was sent to the Somme with the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment. He was a victim of shell shock and trench fever and was sent to recuperate at Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh. Here he met Siegfried Sassoon who helped him to develop his poetic style.
Wilfred Owen was discharged from hospital at the end of October 1917 and spent three week's leave in London. With a letter of introduction from Siegfried Sassoon he met Robert Ross, an intimate of Oscar Wilde, and whose life was ended in 1918 by a scandal.
When Siegfried Sassoon was sent home wounded in July 1918, Wilfred Owen felt obliged to take his place to testify against the war through his poems. He was posted back to France in August 1918.
He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, posthumously, for his leadership on 1st October when he and the Second Manchesters stormed and held strongpoints near the village of Joncourt.
Owen was killed in action as he was leading men across the Sambre Canal at the village of Ors, a week before the Armistice was signed. His grave is in the Ors village cemetery.
Only five of his poems were published while he was alive. His work was first collected in 1920 by Siegfried Sassoon. His reputation slowly grew, greatly assisted by Blunden's edition of his poems, with a Memoir, in 1931. He is now generally regarded as a war poet of the first rank.
His bleack realism, his energy and indignation, and his mastery of metrical variety and assonance are evident in most of his work. His poems were chosen by Britten for the War Requiem. The Poems were collected again in 1963, edited by Day-Lewis.
Dominic Hibberd, in his book Wilfred Owen: a New Biography confirms that Owen was a covert, but unashamed, homosexual.