Ivor Gurney: Dweller in Shadows (Princeton University Press, May 2021)

The first comprehensive biography of an extraordinary English poet and composer whose life was haunted by fighting in the First World War and, later, confinement in a mental asylum.

Ivor Gurney (1890–1937) wrote some of the most-anthologized poems of the First World War and composed some of the greatest works in the English song repertoire, such as “Sleep.” Yet his life was shadowed by the trauma of the war and mental illness, and he spent his last fifteen years confined to a mental asylum. In Dweller in Shadows, Kate Kennedy presents the first comprehensive biography of this extraordinary and misunderstood artist.

The Lives of Houses (co-editor with Hermione Lee, Princeton University Press, 2020)

Kate Kennedy’s moving essay on Ivor Gurney is attentive to the different forms of displacement he suffered as he moved from one asylum to the next, dreaming of a long-since tarnished image of home.
– Lara Feigel, in her review of The Lives of Houses for The Spectator.

Literary Britten (editor, Boydell and Brewer, 2018)

The Silent Morning: Culture, Memory and the Armistice 1918 (co-editor, Manchester University Press, 2013)

The First World War: Music, Literature, Memory (editor, Routledge, 2011)

Plays, scripts and opera libretti

The Fateful Voyage 2018 (an operatic play currently in development, actor Alex Jennings, director James Bonas)

Beyond The Ruins (composer: Charlotte Bray) Royal Opera House, 2016

Unsung Heroines of Classical Music – Lady Maud Warrender (The Essay, BBC Radio 3, 2015)

A Postcard from London 1914 (actor: Jonathan Pryce, broadcast BBC Radio 3, 2014)

Making Arrangements (composer: Charlotte Bray, Tete a Tete Opera Festival, 2013)

The Fox and the Crow (composer: Charlotte Bray, Tete a Tete Opera Festival, 2013)

Other Publications:

Articles and book chapters:

  • ‘Mother England’, Ivor Gurney Society Journal, 2008
  • ‘But still he died nobly’: Gurney’s Re-interpretation of the Pastoral Elegy, Ivor Gurney Society Journal, 2009
  • ‘Sight-reading Katherine Mansfield’: Landfall, University of Otago Press, 2010 
  • ‘‘Literature, Music and the First World War’ Journal ofInternational Relations, 2014
  • ‘A Tribute to my Brother: Women’s Literature and its Post-war Ghosts’ Journal of War and Culture Studies, 2015
  • ‘Benjamin Britten’s operas’ and ‘Ivor Gurney and English Song,’ EdinburghCompanion to Music and Literature, 2017
  • ‘Music as Memorial’, Edinburgh Companion to World War One and the Arts, 2017
  • ‘Music’s War Poets’, Britain and Victory in the Great War, 2018
  • ‘Britten’s Narrators: Reliable and Otherwise’ in Opera and Fiction, 2019


Barbican Centre feature – Music of Conflict


BBC Music Magazine – feature articles: Ivor Gurney, Ethel Smyth, George Butterworth 



BBC Proms brochure essay 2018 – Music’s War Poets


British Library First World War articles