Manuscript of 'For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon


The poetry of war – and of patriotism – arrived early in the conflict of World War One. Published in The Times on 21 September 1914 seven weeks after the declaration of war, Laurence Binyon’s poem of loss soon became a focus for national mourning. It remains one of the most affecting and well-known elegies from the period; its central quatrain, starting ‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old’, is inscribed on countless war memorials and echoes across Remembrance ceremonies. This manuscript was created by Binyon as a presentation copy for the British Museum.

Too old for active service, Binyon (1869–1943), Assistant Keeper at the British Museum, later served as a Red Cross orderly in France. Edward Elgar also drew upon the poem for his choral work, The Spirit of England (1916–17).

Full title:
'For the Fallen': autograph copy of the poem by Robert Laurence Binyon, C.H., made for presentation to the British Museum, 1938
Manuscript / Fair copy
Laurence Binyon
Usage terms
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives licence
Held by
The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Laurence Binyon, British Library
Add MS 45160

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