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Professor Guy Cuthbertson

0151 291 3506 .

I am Professor of British Literature and Culture, Associate Dean and Head of the School of Humanities.  I work on Edwardian England, the First World War, 'Back to the Land' movements, and the literature of 1900-1945, especially Edward Thomas (1878-1917) and his contemporaries, but my research is wide-ranging and I take an interest in everything that we would call Humanities.  My biography of war poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) was published by Yale University Press in 2014 and then in paperback in October 2015.  My next book, Peace at Last: A Portrait of Armistice Day, 11 November 1918, was published by Yale University Press in 2018.  I am currently editing a third volume of Edward Thomas's prose for Oxford University Press, looking at Thomas's writing about roads, walking, cycling, places and journeys.  

Please also see guycuthbertson.com

I gave the British Academy's Chatterton Lecture on Poetry in 2018.  This lecture, on Edward Thomas, has now been published by The Journal of the British Academy: '"I should want nothing more": Edward Thomas and Simplicity'.  

I studied at St Andrews University (first-class MA, with the Class Medal, the Rutherford Prize and the Wyatt-Fenty Prize) and then at The Queen's College, Oxford University (M.Phil and D.Phil, both funded by the AHRC), and I have held lectureships at Oxford (St Edmund Hall and Merton), Swansea, Brighton and London (Queen Mary) as well as a teaching fellowship at St Andrews.  I was a Moore Institute Visiting Research Fellow at NUI Galway during 2015-16, and an Ernest Walder Memorial Scholar at Gladstone's Library during 2017.  


Peace at Last: A Portrait of Armistice Day, 11 November 1918 (Yale University Press, 2018)

'[Cuthbertson's] brilliant portrayal of Britain on the day that peace broke out; when people could believe there was an end to the war to end all wars. He weaves a wonderful tapestry of the mood and events across the country, drawing on a wide range of local and regional newspapers. It is accessible history at its best. [...] outstanding [...] wonderfully stimulating' (The Evening Standard, 8 November 2018)

'In his absorbing and well-researched study, Mr. Cuthbertson, a professor of literature at Liverpool Hope University, shows how a day of spontaneity was tamed over time, as celebration morphed into commemoration. [...] Peace at Last, despite its sometimes grim subject, is a pleasure to read and is full of fascinating tidbits.' (The Wall Street Journal, 12 November)

'Guy Cuthbertson's superbly researched and exhaustive survey of the day the Great War ended [...] One of the strengths of this fine book is that the reader has the sensation that he or she actually took part in what, at the time, was regarded as the greatest day in the history of the world [...] extensive context and understanding [...] Cuthbertson sets the scene expertly [...] this is as definitive a work as one could wish for about the day that saw the end of what was supposedly the war to end all wars.' (The Literary Review, November 2018)

The New Statesman, January 2018, 'Best Books of 2018' ('the books we'll be reading in 2018'): 'The other big anniversary is the end of the First World War. Peace at Last by Guy Cuthbertson (Yale University Press, October) uses letters, diaries and newspapers to build an hour-by-hour account of how the people of Britain experienced the moment that peace became a reality.'

Edward Thomas's Prose

I am a General Editor, with Lucy Newlyn, of the six-volume Oxford University Press edition of Edward Thomas's prose, and I have edited the first two volumes: Autobiographies was published in March 2011, and then England and Wales (co-edited with Lucy Newlyn) was published in November that year.  With Lucy Newlyn, I am now editing the sixth volume, Pilgrimages.  Autobiographies was one of the 'Books of the Year' for 2011 in The Times Literary Supplement ('Guy Cuthbertson's splendidly edited Autobiographies promises well for the series'), and, in English Literature in Transition, Michel Pharand commented that 'Guy Cuthbertson's editorial apparatus cannot be faulted [...] If Autobiographies is any indication, the other volumes are likely to become indispensable resources for the rediscovery of a large and neglected part of Edward Thomas's oeuvre.  Both volumes were praised in a long review in The Times Literary Supplement, and in The Observer Robert Macfarlane chose England and Wales as his summer reading. In The Literary Review, Macfarlane described the volumes as 'superbly edited'.


I have written a number of articles and chapters on Edward Thomas, most recently a chapter on Edward Thomas for A Cambridge History of World War One Poetry.  I have also co-edited, with Lucy Newlyn, a successful anthology called Branch-Lines: Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry (Enitharmon, 2007).  


Edward Thomas, England and Wales, ed. Guy Cuthbertson and Lucy Newlyn (Oxford University Press, 2011). Edward Thomas: Prose Writings: A Selected Edition. Volume II.

 - praised in a long review in the TLS by Paul Jarman, January 2012.  The introduction, written with Lucy Newlyn, is 'excellent'.  'Prefaced with a biographical, contextual and thought-provoking critical introduction, and packed with footnotes which not only elucidate the text but also - and this is particularly strong - cross-refer the reader to related material elsewhere in Thomas's poetry and prose, these volumes must plug some conspicuous gaps in university library holdings, and present Thomas scholars with the tools for a broader re-evaluation of his life's work.'


The Year's Work in English Studies (2013) recorded that 'The year 2011 saw the publication of Cuthbertson, ed., Edward Thomas: Prose Writings, volume 1: Autobiographies and Cuthbertson and Newlyn, eds., Edward Thomas: Prose Writings, volume 2: England and Wales. These are handsomely produced and assiduously researched editions, and this reviewer was struck by the extraordinarily eclectic prose output of a writer who died at the age of only 39. As the editors acknowledge, while Thomas's poetry has received subtle and extensive critical scrutiny, his narrative prose fiction, middlebrow journalism, and life-writing are only just receiving the acute analysis they deserve.'


Edward Thomas, Autobiographies, ed. Guy Cuthbertson (Oxford University Press, 2011). Edward Thomas: Prose Writings: A Selected Edition. Volume I.

 - 'Guy Cuthbertson's splendidly edited Autobiographies promises well for the series' - Peter McDonald, 'Books of the Year', TLS, December 2011

 - 'Useful and fascinating'; with an 'excellent introduction' - Paul Jarman, TLS, January 2012

- this book was also the subject of the TLS blog.

- 'invaluable [...] the main achievement here is that we come away from this first volume with a deeper appreciation for Thomas the prose writer [...] Cuthbertson's volume is an act of recovery [...] careful and admirable' - David Farley, Britain and the World, 7:1 (March 2014). 

- 'Cuthbertson has traced and annotated [the echoes and allusions] scrupulously, revealing for the first time the rich backdrop of Thomas's extensive readings and showing how they inform his fictional and nonfictional works. [...] Guy Cuthbertson's editorial apparatus cannot be faulted.  [...] If Autobiographies is any indication, the other volumes are likely to become indispensable resources for the rediscovery of a large and neglected part of Edward Thomas's important oeuvre.'  - Michel W. Pharand, English Literature in Transition, 2012


Guy Cuthbertson and Lucy Newlyn, eds, Branch-Lines: Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry (London: Enitharmon, 2007).  New edition, 2014.

 - Branch-Lines was praised in a long review by Adam Newey in The Guardian.



Wilfred Owen (Yale University Press, 2014)

'rarely has a poet been better served than by Guy Cuthbertson's sensitive and beautifully-written account [...] Should you purchase this truly lovely and deeply humane book, I guarantee you will read and re-read it - maybe for the rest of your life' (The Birmingham Post and syndicated)', '[a] scintillating biography' (Times Higher Education Supplement), 'very readable, focused, vigorous, well-documented' (The New Statesman), 'impressive' (The Sunday Herald), 'Book of the Week' (The Daily Mail), 'written with such sincerity, diligence and empathy' (The Financial Times), 'admirably thorough - four stars' (The Sunday Times), five stars (Ilkley Gazette and syndicated), 'this book is rewarding' (Country Life), the week's Number 1 Most Reviewed Book (The Bookseller), 'rigorously researched, a sensitive, three-dimensional portrait' (The Australian), recommended in The Daily Mirror and by the BBC, 'an amiable and admiring account' (Standpoint), 'lively, frequently witty, and extensively researched' (The Use of English), 'absorbing' (TLS), 'scrupulous, thoughtful, open-minded, fired with enthusiasm for the poems and respect for the man - a fine biography' (The Times), 'recommended' (Choice), 'an original, sparkling book - lively and elegant, textured and engaging' (Friends of the Dymock Poets Newsletter), Booklist (American Library Association) starred review and one of the Top Ten Biographies of the Year (June 2013-May 2014), 'throws a different light on the poet's life' (Sydney Morning Herald), 'valuable' (BBC History Magazine), 'highly recommended' (The National Review).

- Gary Day, Times Higher Education Supplement, 1 May 2014: '[a] scintillating biography [...] breathes some life into the war poet [...] The real strength of this biography is in tracing Owen's debt to other writers and in discovering new sources for his poems [...] Scholars of Owen, and that mythical beast the common reader, will also find much to enjoy [...] For a long time Owen has been set in stone, his poetry ossifying into anti-war cliche. Cuthbertson has made him live again.'   


- Rowan Williams, The New Statesman, 21 February 2014: '[a] very readable and focused biography [...] a vigorous, well-documented narrative, with fresh light to cast on some central themes.  It is excellent on the Shropshire background, on Owen's educational career, including his long-lived nostalgia for the Oxford he had never attended, and on the curious life he led as an emigre in France.  It offers too some intelligent analysis of Owen's growing technical accomplishment as a poet'.  


- Richard Edmonds, The Birmingham Post (and syndicated), 10 April 2014: 'rarely has a poet been better served than by Guy Cuthbertson's sensitive and beautifully-written account [...] highly readable, using a wealth of fascinating detail [...] Should you purchase this truly lovely and deeply humane book, I guarantee you will read and re-read it - maybe for the rest of your life.' 

- The Year's Work in English Studies, (95:1), 2016: 'As well as its emphasis on the formative influences of Owen's early life, then, Cuthbertson's book is undoubtedly valuable for fostering a more refined understanding of the poetry itself.'

- Daisy Goodwin, The Sunday Times (Books section cover story), 2 March 2014: 'Cuthbertson's biography is admirably thorough in its unpacking of Owen's poetic imagery.  There is no reference that is unexplored.' 


- The Sunday Herald, 23 February 2014: 'This impressive biography [...] sheds new light on important aspects of Owen's literary career [...] Cuthbertson is also very good on the religious context of Owen's verse, especially the impact that French Roman Catholicism had on a man brought up in a somewhat humdrum variant of English Protestantism'. 


- 'Book of the Week', The Daily Mail, 28 February 2014.


- Financial Times, 29 February 2014: '[Cuthbertson] writes with such sincerity, telling the story of Owen's short life and journey from provincial obscurity to the carnage of the western front and then to posthumous fame as a war poet with diligence and empathy.'   


- The Use of English, Summer 2014: 'Guy Cuthbertson's new biography is lively, frequently witty, and extensively researched [...] Guy Cuthbertson's very readable account is a useful corrective to some of the myth and hyperbole that has come to surround Owen'.


- Friends of the Dymock Poets, August 2014: 'an original, sparkling book [...] The prose is lively and elegant, full of audacious allusions and detailed descriptions of places associated with Owen [...] This textured and engaging biography is a fine addition to the body of work about the remarkable Wilfred Owen'.


- Booklist, 15 March 2014: 'Invaluable insight into a man whose words will be heard often during the upcoming WW1 centennial'


- Booklist 'Top Ten Biographies: 2014', 1 June 2014 - the top ten biographies of the year, 2013-14: 'Cuthbertson sensitively considers Owen's childlike charm, objections to the war, and heroism at the front'.  

- Julia Richardson, Daily Mail, 23 October 2015: 'In this compassionate and moving biography, Cuthbertson lifts the lid on Owen's early years and their impact on his work. [...] While his boyishness nurtured his verse, his writing was mature and sophisticated, and Cuthbertson scrutinises this relationship wonderfully'.


- Daniel P. King, World Literature Today, November 2014: 'Guy Cuthbertson adeptly shows Owen's sharpness and intelligence [...]. Cuthbertson's intense inquiry into Owen's life [...] skilfully introduces new readers "to the poetry, to the young moustached face, and to the story of his life."'  


- John Sutherland, The Times, 15 March 2014: 'Cuthbertson is scrupulous, thoughtful and open-minded.  His book is fired with enthusiasm for the poems and respect for the man who created them.  The result is a fine biography.'  


- Sean O'Brien, The Times Literary Supplement, 6 November 2014: '[Cuthbertson's] sense of place and milieu and of Owen's response to them is very strong, as is his depiction of the constraints and miseries of lower-middle-class life, of Owen's time at Craiglockhart hospital, and of his literary friendships [...] Cuthbertson's readings of the poems are clear and informative, though the case for Owen's poetry scarcely needs to be made at present.' 

- Nigel Jones, BBC History Magazine, February 2016: 'Cuthbertson is an acute and perceptive critic [...] This book is a valuable addition to the huge library devoted to the war's remarkable literary legacy'.


- Sydney Leach, The National Review, 25 May 2015: 'Guy Cuthbertson's biography Wilfred Owen is to be highly recommended.  Cuthbertson provides a fresh and insightful portrait of one of the most famous British war poets and corrects some false impressions that have become attached to him'.



EXTERNAL EXAMINING: Edge Hill University; Royal Holloway, University of London (PhD); University of Exeter (PhD); University of Liverpool; University of Durham (PhD).