World War I Literature

John Singer Sargent, Gassed, 1918
The First World War inspired established authors, soldiers, combat nurses, and grieving family members to write about the horrors and devastating losses they experienced. Here's a selection of poems, shorts stories, and books about the war's raw brutality, in contrast with patriotic verses and platitudes. The early assurances in England that "it will all be over before Christmas" were dead wrong. War and war stories were not new, but the Great War was different. Troops deployed from numerous continents, battles fought across borders, and advanced weapons resulted in ten million killed. Though the War's reach was global, the indelible losses were intensely personal. These authors gave them voice.    Poems, Short Stories, Books, and Propaganda Posters

"I feel in the profoundest sense that nothing can ever be the same -- that, as artists, we are traitors if we feel otherwise: we have to take it into account and find new expressions, new moulds for our thoughts and feelings." -- Katherine Mansfield

"All the poet can do to-day is to warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful." -- Wilfred Owen

"This war does not furnish the poet, the novelist, and the dramatist with the material of literature. Fighting is no longer our ideal. It is an anachronism." -- William Dean Howells in War Stops Literature

In Flanders Fields

WWI Poems

Mary Postgate
German reconnaissance plane before take-off, 1916

WWI Short Stories

Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship

WWI Books

WWI Propaganda Posters

2nd City of London Battalion recruitment poster, 1915Britain Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, 1915U.S. Army, Harry R. Hopps lithograph, 1917David Henry Souter, Red Cross nurse recruitment, 1914-18

US Army, James Montgomery Flagg, Uncle Sam Wants You, 1917US Army Air Service Recruiting PosterThe Navy Needs You!US Navy, Howard Chandler Christy, recruiting women to enlist, 1917

The Empire Needs MenBritain, Surely you will fight for your King and Country, Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, 1915Irish recruiting poster, 1915Britain, John Bull lithograph, 1915

Britain, E.J. Kealey, Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, 1915Canadian Mounted RiflesAustralia, Norman Lindsey, The Trumpet Calls, 1914-18US, Boys and Girls Can Help, 1917

American Red Cross Knit Your BitWomen's Land ArmySave Kitchen Waste to Feed the PigsSave Waste Fat for Explosives

Little Americans Do Your BitSmall FryLet Your Fruit Trees Save SugarWill You Help the Women of France

You may also enjoy Civil War Stories and American History to better understand historical events from authors who were there.

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