The Hydra

The Hydra is the magazine of Craiglockhart War Hospital. It offers a unique record of life inside the hospital in 1917–18, having been produced by the patients who were treated there.

The Hydra Magazine

The hospital doctors, in particular Arthur J. Brock, thought it essential for shell-shock victims to be as active as possible, so the magazine was run by and for the patients, with the main purpose of advertising events and activities. Its pages tell of the lectures, meetings, expeditions, hobbies and entertainments that went on. Patients could contribute topical jokes about the hospital, as well as verse, stories, drawings and cartoons. 

H. & J. Pillans & Wilson, a local company, printed The Hydra fortnightly, from 28 April to 29 September 1917. There was then a short break until November, when the monthly New Series was launched under the editorship of J.B Salmond, an experienced journalist and minor war poet.

The War Poets Collection has three original issues from 1918 and photocopies of all known issues. The University would like to thank John Garth whose research led to the re-discovery of original issues of The Hydra New Series 3, 4 and 5.

Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon

Wilfred Owen was editor for six issues from 21 July 1917. He took the chance to publish (anonymously) the first two poems of his own ever to appear in print, Song of Songs and The Next War.  A fragment of what later became The Dead-Beat, was also published as part of his Editorial for issue No 10.  Two new poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Dreamers and Wirers were published in the September 1917 issues and several more appeared later, in The Hydra, New Series. 

The Illustrated Cover of The Hydra

Front cover illustration of the Hydra New Series

The cover of The Hydra, New Series was designed by Adrian Berrington. It shows a patient in the grip of the Hydra, representing a shell-shock nightmare. But nurses are at hand, and in the distance the hospital stands secure under a summer sky. The title, a pun on 'Hydro', refers to the many-headed monster slain by Hercules.

Full text transcriptions of the contents of The Hydra (excluding advertising material) have been produced by Edinburgh Napier University Library, in cooperation with the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. You can view and download transcriptions from the list of issues below.  

Transcriptions

The transcriptions of The Hydra on this website omit all graphical material from the originals, including advertisements, cartoons and sketches. To see these materials, view the digitised copies of The Hydra on the University of Oxford's First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Minor amendments to the original punctuation and layout have been made to improve readability of the transcriptions.

Many Edinburgh Napier University Library staff have been involved in obtaining original issues of The Hydra, or facsimiles and transcribing the contents: Alison Brogan, Gordon Dunsire, Catherine Harvey, George Harvie, Geraldine Jeffrey, Laurence Patterson, Joyce Templeton and Catherine Walker. 

A complete set of the original series and eight numbers of the New Series survive in the Owen Collection at The University of Oxford.  These issues have been digitised and are available to view on the First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Hydra: journal of the Craiglockhart War Hospital

The Hydra: the magazine of Craiglockhart War Hospital

Copyright

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Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to obtain permission from the relevant copyright holders to reproduce the content of The Hydra. Please notify us immediately if there are any discrepancies.