First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Virtual Simulation in Second Life

The War Poets Exhibition in Second Life is now open to the public. To visit the site go to:

This immersive experience attempts to demonstrate how effective it can be to expose items from a research project (the First World War Poetry Digital Archive) in its context. You can see items from the collection, hear interviews with veterans, and watch contemporary film footage as you explore the area - a training camp, communication trench, a casualty clearing station, a front-line trench - as well as listen to readings of the poetry.

See below for further explanation, or watch our YouTube video taking you around the exhibition (Machinima created by Tara Yeats).

What is Second Life?

Second Life Poppies

Second Life is a 3D world that is free to use at its most basic level. You can find information on Second Life at To get started you need to register ( and create an 'avatar'. Your avatar is simply the computer-generated person you use in the 3D world. You also need to download some software to your machine which will allow you to enter the Second Life world (available for Windows, Macs, and Linux [beta]). You do this when you register.

Why are we using Second Life?

Transportation in Second Life

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive and the Learning Technologies Group at the University of Oxford have collaborated on an exciting new project in the 3D virtual world Second Life. This project has seen the Second Life environment modeled to simulate areas of the Western Front 1914-18. Into this environment a range of digitised materials from the major poets of the First World War (such as poetry manuscripts, letters and diaries), including Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Vera Brittain, along with contextual primary source materials have been imported. These materials have been supplemented with new interpretative content and a spectrum of interactive tools and tutorials, streaming video and audio effects.

Virtual worlds create opportunities to do things that are impossible in real museums. By simulating parts of the Western Front, the archive can embed an entire exhibition's worth of content within in the space. This can be further enhanced by placing digital versions of real archival materials and narratives along the paths that visitors take. The result is an immersive and personal experience. It's not 'real' but it does offer possibilities for understanding a part of history that is now beyond human memory.

Getting to the First World War Poetry Simulation in Second Life

Once Second Life is set up on your computer the simulation can be accessed by going to the Frideswide Island by following the Second Life URL, (or 'SLURL').

Dulce et Decorum Est