|Born||Sidney Arthur Kilworth Keyes|
27 May 1922
|Died||29 April 1943 (aged 20)|
|Cause of death||Killed in action|
|Alma mater||University of Oxford|
|Notable awards||Hawthornden Prize|
Early years and education
Keyes was born on 27 May 1922. His mother died shortly afterwards and he was raised by his paternal grandparents. Keyes started writing poetry when still very young, with Wordsworth, Rilke and Jung among his main influences. He attended Dartford Grammar School and then boarded at Tonbridge School (Hillside, 1935-1940) during his secondary education, after which he won a history scholarship to Queen's College, Oxford. While at college, Keyes wrote the only two books of his lifetime, The Cruel Solstice and The Iron Laurel. During his time in Oxford, Keyes fell in love with the young German artist Milein Cosman, but his love was not returned. He also befriended fellow poets John Heath-Stubbs and Michael Meyer, edited The Cherwell magazine, and formed a dramatic society.
Keyes left Oxford and joined the British Army in April 1942, entering active service that same year. He was soon commissioned in the Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment and served with his regiment's 1st Battalion, part of the 4th Division, to fight in the final stages of the Tunisian campaign in March 1943. 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. During combat, he was reported to have continued writing poetry. However, these works have not survived.
Keyes was killed in action on 29 April 1943, covering his platoon's retreat during a counter-attack, shortly before his 21st birthday. It has also been stated that he died at the hands of the enemy, following his capture.
- Kendall 2009, p. 398
- "Sidney Keyes (1922-1943)". The War Poet Association. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- Berryman 1947, p. 510
- Dickey 2004, p. 256
- Hynes 1990, p. 298
- Dickey 2004, p. 259
- Kendall 2006, p. 185
- Kendall 2009, p. 401
- Michael L. Meyer, introduction to Keyes, Collected Poems Routledge (1945).
- Moseley, Merritt. "The Hawthornden Prize". University of North Carolina. Archived from the original on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
- Berryman, John (1947), "Review: Young Poets Dead", The Sewanee Review, Johns Hopkins University Press, 55 (3)
- Hynes, Samuel (1990), "Review: Sidney Keyes, Poet", The Sewanee Review, Johns Hopkins University Press, 98 (2)
- Dickey, James (March 2004), Donald Greiner (ed.), Classes on Modern Poets and the Art of Poetry, University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 9781570035289
- Kendall, Tim (2006), Modern English War Poetry, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-927676-9
- Kendall, Tim; Geoffrey Hill (2009), The Oxford Handbook of British and Irish War Poetry, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-955960-2
- Cosman, Milein, Memories of Sidney Keyes
- Roy, Pinaki. “Sidney Keyes: The War-poet who ‘groped for Death’”. War, Literature and the Arts (U.S. Air Force Academy) (ISSN 2169-7914), 26 (1), 2014: http://wlajournal.com/wlaarchive/26/Roy.pdf