The 20th Century was turbulent and often traumatic to live through with enormous political, social and economic change. There were two World Wars, The Holocaust, the atomic bomb and the rise of Fascism and Communism. The distinction between soldiers and civilians in war evaporated. Spanish Flu in just over two years produced more casualties than the First World War. There was an extraordinary technology boom which saw the invention of the World Wide Web at the end of the century and that boom also produced televisions, mobile phones and cheap computers for all. The Great Depression, from 1929 to 1939, saw global unemployment approach 25% and global GDP shrunk by nearly 27%. The Space Race put a man on the moon and nuclear power became a reality. The 1960’s saw an explosive rise in the popularity of pop and rock music with The Beatles and Bob Dylan becoming household names and their lyrics widely admired.

With the benefit of over 20 years distance, we look back at the Poetry of the 20th Century and try to assess who are the Major Poets of the period and where the poetry of Professor Sir Geoffrey Hill (Keble 1950, former Oxford Professor of Poetry and Keble Honorary Fellow) stands.

With guests, Vincent Gillespie (Keble 1972), Emeritus J R R Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language and Keble Honorary Fellow, Ell Potter (Keble 2014), actor, writer, and award-winning narrator, and Peter Lawlor (Brasenose 1984), Economist and Principal Economic Advisor to the German Stock Exchange, Founder and MD of Water Music Productions and Chairman of White Water Records. Peter’s successful music career began with the band ‘Frankie Goes To Hollywood’ whilst still attending Oxford, and then forming band Stiltskin, getting his first Number One hit single, performed on Top of the Pops, and subsequent Silver Album. All round good bloke!

The event will be hosted by Honorary Fellow Robin Geffen (Keble 1976).

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