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Ivor Gurney (1890-1937)
English Poet and Composer

A lover and maker of beauty

    Ivor Gurney was born in Gloucester, England on August 28, 1890.  He began composing music at the age of 14 and won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London in 1911.  His studies were interrupted by World War I in which he served as a private.  He spent 16 months at the Front where he was wounded in April 1917 and gassed in September of the same year.  During the time he spent in France, his poetic gift revealed itself and his first book of poems, Severn and Somme, was published in the autumn of 1917.  After his discharge from the Army, he returned to London to resume his music studies.  His second book of poems, War’s Embers, was published in 1919. 
    Gurney was regarded as one of the most promising men of his generation, both in music and poetry.  However, in 1922, the manic depressive illness that had plagued him from early adulthood prompted his family to have him declared insane.  He was institutionalized for the last 15 years of his life, and died on December 26, 1937 at the City of London Mental Hospital.  He wrote hundreds of poems and composed more than 300 songs as well as instrumental music, primarily for the piano.

By Pamela Blevins, © 2000

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