Ivor Gurney suffered periods of mental ill health before the First World War, but his condition had deteriorated significantly by the end of the conflict. He had joined up after initially being rejected and was subsequently wounded and gassed.

At the end of the war he had a number of temporary jobs, but his mental instability worsened and he was committed to a mental asylum in 1922. Gurney never fully recovered and died in an asylum in Kent in 1937 from tuberculosis. He almost certainly suffered from some form of bi-polar disorder.

Gurney was not only a poet but also an extremely gifted composer. Although tormented by mental illness, he wrote over two hundred musical pieces and hundreds of poems. During his lifetime he was probably best known for his music, but after his death his friends ensured that his poetic work was collected and preserved and its originality and value recognised.

Recording commissioned by the Poetry Archive, used here with kind permission of the reader.

Poems by Ivor Gurney

Strange Hells

Read by Glyn Maxwell
Strange Hells - Ivor Gurney - Read by Glyn Maxwell

Books by Ivor Gurney

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