Sidney Keyes

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Sidney Keyes
Born (1922-05-27)27 May 1922
Died 29 April 1943(1943-04-29) (aged 20)
Alma mater University of Oxford
Notable awards Hawthornden Prize

Sidney Arthur Kilworth Keyes (27 May 1922 – 29 April 1943, Tunisia) was an English poet of World War II.


Early years[edit]

Keyes was born May 27, 1922.[1] He boarded at Tonbridge School (Hillside, 1935-1940) during his secondary education, after which he attended the Queen's College, Oxford.[2] While at college, Keyes wrote the only two books of his lifetime, The Cruel Solstice and The Iron Laurel.[3] During his time in Oxford, Keyes fell in love with the young German artist Milein Cosman, but his love was not returned.

Military service[edit]

Keyes left Oxford and joined the army in April 1942,[4] entering active service that same year.[5] He was sent with his regiment to fight in the Tunisia Campaign of World War II.[6] Prior to his service, Keyes had already written more than half of the 110 poems that would later be gathered in The Collected Poems of Sidney Keyes.[4] During combat, he was reported to have continued writing poetry. However, these works have not survived.[7]


Keyes fought and died in action on 29 April 1943, shortly before his 21st birthday.[6] It has also been stated that he died at the hands of the enemy, following his capture.[8]


In 1943, Keyes was awarded the Hawthornden Prize for The Cruel Solstice and The Iron Laurel.[9]


  1. ^ Kendall 2009, p. 398
  2. ^ Berryman 1947, p. 510
  3. ^ Dickey 2004, p. 256
  4. ^ a b Hynes 1990, p. 298
  5. ^ Dickey 2004, p. 259
  6. ^ a b Kendall 2006, p. 185
  7. ^ Kendall 2009, p. 401
  8. ^ Michael L. Meyer, introduction to Keyes, Collected Poems Routledge (1945).
  9. ^ Moseley, Merritt. "The Hawthornden Prize". University of North Carolina. Retrieved 16 May 2010.