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 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.  

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. 

A full text transcription of the contents of The Hydra (excluding advertising material) has been produced by Edinburgh Napier University Library, in cooperation with the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. You can view these in our list of issues. 

Cover of The Hydra, New Series, designed by Adrian Berrington, 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.

The Hydra: Journal of the Craiglockhart War Hospital 

•No.1 (April 28th, 1917)

•No.2 (May 12th, 1917)

•No.3 (May 26th, 1917)

•No.4 (June 9th, 1917)

•No.5 (June 23rd, 1917)

•No.6 (July 7th, 1917)

•No.7 (July 21st, 1917)

•No.8 (August 4th, 1917)

•No.9 (August 18th, 1917)

•No.10 (September 1st, 1917)

•No.11 (September 15th, 1917)

•No.12 (September 29th, 1917)


The Hydra: the Magazine of the Craiglockhart War Hospital 

•No.1 New Series (November 1917)

•No.2 New Series (December 1917)

•No.3 New Series (January 1918)

•No.4 New Series (February 1918)

•No.5 New Series (March 1918)

•No.7 New Series (May 1918)

•No.8 New Series (June 1918)

•No.9 New Series (July 1918)


The transcription of The Hydra on this website omits all graphical material from the originals; this includes advertisements, cartoons and sketches. To consult the graphical materials in the digital copies of The Hydra please click on the link below to The University of Oxford.

Minor amendments to the original punctuation and layout have been made to improve the readability of the text in HTML.

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



Copyright on the HTML mark-up and design of these web pages is held by

Edinburgh Napier University.



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.


Digital copies of The Hydra 

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 also been digitised. Click on the link below to see the digitised images.