While being treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital, Wilfred Owen edited six issues of the hospital’s magazine, The Hydra, beginning with the 21 July 1917 issue. This is the new front cover launched with the November 1917 issue, the same month Owen was discharged from the hospital.
Previously, The Hydra’s front cover featured a simple photograph of the hospital. In this hand drawn design, the hospital is portrayed in the top right corner. The anonymous artist depicts a man blasted from the battleground into the air where he recoils from a hydra, the deadly, many-headed monster of Greek mythology – the reference to this beast puns on ‘hydro’, the hospital’s pre-war title. Famously, each time one of the hydra’s heads was cut off, another grew back. Here, the pun is both humorous and evokes the nightmarish effects of war and illness. The image also perhaps suggests a feeling of futility towards the treatment of unpredictable, complex illnesses that affect both mind and body. The two nurses, levitating in the air, offer tea and medicine yet look passively on, unable to suppress such monstrous trauma.
- Full title:
- The Hydra: November 1917
- November 1917, Craiglockhart War Hospital, Edinburgh
- Periodical / Ephemera / Illustration / Image
- The Hydra
- Usage terms
This item is from The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, University of Oxford (www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit); © English Faculty Library, The University of Oxford. Permitted Use.
Anonymous artist: This material is in the Public Domain.
- Held by
- The English Faculty Library, one of the Bodleian Libraries, The University of Oxford
- The Hydra (5125)
- Article by:
- Santanu Das
- Literature 1900–1950, Power and conflict
Santanu Das examines the crafting of one of Owen’s most poignant poems, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, and shows how Owen’s war poems evoke the extreme sense-experience of the battlefield.
- Article by:
- Richard Price
- Art, music and popular culture
Looking at examples such as The Germ and Blast, Richard Price examines the defining characteristics of little magazines and their legacy within literature, art, and culture.
- Article by:
- Tracey Loughran
- Wounding and medicine
Recent estimates suggest that up to 325,000 British soldiers may have suffered from ‘shell-shock’ as a result of the First World War. Dr Tracey Loughran reflects on the encounters between Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and W H R Rivers at Craiglockhart War Hospital, and how other doctors attempted to treat ‘shell-shock’.
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