Sir Andrew Motion - Author

About the Author

Andrew Motion is the former Poet Laureate, co-founded the Poetry Archive and was knighted for his services to literature in 2009. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in London.

Featured books by Sir Andrew Motion

The New World

The New World

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/10/2015

The adventure of the New World lies in wait...

Other books by Sir Andrew Motion

The Lamberts George, Constant and Kit

The Lamberts George, Constant and Kit

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/11/2018

'Families are societies in miniature.' The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1987. A lesson in the fragility of fame, it tells the tragic story of three generations: George, one of Australia's leading painters; his talented composer-conductor son Constant; and grandson Kit, who managed the pop group The Who. 'Motion's project is not just to tell the story of passing generations, which he does very readably and well, but necessarily also to describe and evaluate aspects of English culture - revivalist painting, classical music in the Twenties and Thirties, the foundation of a native ballet, pop music in the Sixties - which he does with considerable confidence and resource.' London Review of Books 'The story of the three Lamberts is as cruel and horrifying as any Greek tragedy... Its portrayal of the way in which the Lamberts instinctively yet unintentionally assisted in the destruction of their own offspring makes for truly compulsive reading.' Harpers and Queen 'An exemplary piece of research' (Sunday Times). 'A biographical triumph.' Observer

Keats

Keats

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/10/2018

First published in 1997, Keats was the first major biography of this tragic hero of Romanticism for some thirty years, and it differs from its predecessors in important respects. The outline of the story is well known - has become, in fact, the stuff of legend: the archetypal life of the tortured genius, critically spurned and dying young. What Andrew Motion brings to bear on the subject is a deep understanding of how Keats fitted into the intellectual and political life of his time. Important friendships with such anti-establishment figures as William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt are given their full due, and the closeness of his own spirit, as expressed in his poems, to the ferment all around is made clear. Many significant facts about Keats's schooldays and medical training, in particular, enrich the picture. Keats emerges as a more political figure than he is usually portrayed, but his personal sufferings, too, come into closer focus. Most importantly, Andrew Motion - himself a distinguished poet and former poet laureate - demonstrates how the poems continue to exert their power. 'A definitive life of a great poet, and one of the finest biographies of the decade.' New Statesman

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/09/2018

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life won the Whitbread Award for Biography in 1993 and was championed as 'an exemplary biography of its kind' (The Times). With a new introduction written by the author, this edition offers an engrossing portrait of one of the twentieth century's most popular, and most private, poets. 'There will be other lives of Larkin, but Motion's, like Forster's of Dickens, will always have a special place.' John Carey, Sunday Times 'Larkin lived a quietly noble and exemplary version of the writer's life; Motion - affectionate but undeceived about the man's frailties, a diligent researcher and a deft reader of poetry - has written an equally exemplary 'Life' of him.' Peter Conrad, Observer 'Honest but not prurient, critical but also compassionate, Motion's book could not be bettered.' Alan Bennett, London Review of Books

Essex Clay

Essex Clay

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/06/2018

Andrew Motion's prose memoir In the Blood (2006) was widely acclaimed, praised as 'an act of magical retrieval' (Daily Telegraph) and 'a hymn to familial love' (Independent). Now, twelve years later and three years after moving to live and work in the United States, Motion looks back once more to recreate a stunning biographical sequel - but this time in verse. Essex Clay rekindles, expands and gives a tragic resonance to subjects that have haunted the poet throughout his writing life. In the first part, he tells the story of his mother's riding accident, long unconsciousness and slow death; in the second, he remembers the end of his father's life; and in the third, he describes an encounter that deepens the poem's tangled themes of loss and memory and retrieval. Although the prevailing mood of the poem has a Tennysonian sweep and melancholy, its wealth of physical details and its narrative momentum make it as compelling as a fast-paced novel: a settling of accounts which admits that final resolutions are impossible.

Peace Talks

Peace Talks

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/10/2016

The second half of Andrew Motion's new collection returns to the sequence begun in Laurels and Donkeys, completing a body of work recognised by the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award in 2014. These meditations on combat and the people caught up in it look back to conflicts of the past: to the 'war to end all wars'; to Rupert Brooke on his final journey; to Wilfred Owen at Craiglockhart War Hospital; to Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the day of his fatal shooting. But Motion also depicts the ravages of modern warfare through reported speech, redacted documents, and vivid evocations of place, his plain understatement bringing the magnitude of war home to our own shores. These poems are moving and measured, delicate and clear-eyed, and bear witness to the futility of war and the suffering of those left behind. Elsewhere we find biographies in miniature, dreams and visions, family histories, which in their range of forms and voices consider questions of identity, and character. These are poems of remembrance in which Motion's war poems, all in their own way elegies, find a natural partner. Peace Talks is a wise and compassionate work.

Ten War Poems

Ten War Poems

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/07/2016

Peace Talks

Peace Talks

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/11/2015

The second half of Andrew Motion's new collection returns to the sequence begun in Laurels and Donkeys, completing a body of work recognised by the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award in 2014. These meditations on combat and the people caught up in it look back to conflicts of the past: to the 'war to end all wars'; to Rupert Brooke on his final journey; to Wilfred Owen at Craiglockhart War Hospital; to Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the day of his fatal shooting. But Motion also depicts the ravages of modern warfare through reported speech, redacted documents, and vivid evocations of place, his plain understatement bringing the magnitude of war home to our own shores. These poems are moving and measured, delicate and clear-eyed, and bear witness to the futility of war and the suffering of those left behind. Elsewhere we find biographies in miniature, dreams and visions, family histories, which in their range of forms and voices consider questions of identity, and character. These are poems of remembrance in which Motion's war poems, all in their own way elegies, find a natural partner. Peace Talks is a wise and compassionate work.

The New World

The New World

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/10/2015

The adventure of the New World lies in wait...

Good-bye to All That An Autobiography

Good-bye to All That An Autobiography

Author: Sir Andrew Motion, Robert Graves Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/05/2014

There was no patriotism in the trenches. It was too remote a sentiment, and rejected as fit only for civilians. A new arrival who talked patriotism would soon be told to cut it out. As Blighty, Great Britain was a quiet, easy place to get back to out of the present foreign misery, but as a nation it was nothing. This is the original version of Robert Graves's intense memoir of the First World War, restoring this raw, emotionally truthful, darkly comic work to the way it was first written, by a young man still reeling from the trenches. 'We see the dark heart of the book even more clearly, and hear it beating even more loudly, in this original edition than we do in the comparatively careful and considered terms of the later one' Andrew Motion 'One of the most candid self-portraits, warts and all, ever painted' TLS

The Customs House

The Customs House

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/09/2013

Andrew Motion's new book opens with a sequence of war poems (first published as the pamphlet Laurels and Donkeys, on Armstice Day 2010), drawing on soldiers' experiences of war from 1914 until today - beginning with a story about Siegfried Sassoon and moving via World War Two and Korea to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the poems are in the voices of combatants, others are based on memories of the poet's father, who landed at D-day and fought in France and Germany. The poems combine understatement with a clear-eyed and unswerving candour. The Customs House has other rooms: a group of topographies, mapping moments in a marriage against the contingencies of place and family history; and several 'found poems', in which the poet collaborates with his source, mixing what is there already with what is about to be there: whether a remarkable sonnet sequence on the last days of the Baroque genius Francesco Borromini, or in other poems a richly imagined extrapolation from the silent premises of a painting.

Silver Return to Treasure Island

Silver Return to Treasure Island

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2013

Think of the fortune waiting for you. July, 1802. Young Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver's daughter, Natty, set off in the footsteps of their fathers. The lure of hidden treasure and the thrill of the ocean odyssey soon gives way to terror as the Nightingale reaches its destination. Treasure Island is not uninhabited as it once was.

The Customs House

The Customs House

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/10/2012

Andrew Motion's new book opens with a sequence of war poems (first published as the pamphlet Laurels and Donkeys, on Armistice Day 2010), drawing on soldiers' experiences of war from 1914 until today - beginning with a story about Siegfried Sassoon and moving via World War Two and Korea to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of the poems are in the voices of combatants, others are based on memories of the poet's father, who landed at D-day and fought in France and Germany. The poems combine understatement with a clear-eyed and unswerving candour. The Customs House has other rooms: a group of topographies, mapping moments in a marriage against the contingencies of place and family history; and several 'found poems', in which the poet collaborates with his source, mixing what is there already with what is about to be there: whether a remarkable sonnet sequence on the last days of the Baroque genius Francesco Borromini, or in other poems a richly imagined extrapolation from the silent premises of a painting.

The Lamberts George, Constant and Kit

The Lamberts George, Constant and Kit

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/07/2012

Andrew Motion's first work of biography won a Somerset Maugham Award in 1987. 'A biographical triumph.' Observer 'The story of the three Lamberts is as cruel and horrifying as any Greek tragedy... Its portrayal of the way in which the Lamberts instinctively yet unintentionally assisted in the destruction of their own offspring makes for truly compulsive reading.' Harpers and Queen 'Motion's project is not just to tell the story of passing generations, which he does very readably and well, but necessarily also to describe and evaluate aspects of English culture - revivalist painting, classical music in the Twenties and Thirties, the foundation of a native ballet, pop music in the Sixties - which he does with considerable confidence and resource.' London Review of Books

Silver: Return to Treasure Island

Silver: Return to Treasure Island

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 15/06/2012

The thrilling follow-up to Treasure Island, as told by one of England's greatest contemporary writers and narrated by David Tennant, one of the finest actors of his generation. July, 1802. In the marshy eastern reaches of the Thames lies the Hispaniola, an inn kept by Jim Hawkins and his son. Late one night, a mysterious girl named Natty arrives with a request from her father, Long John Silver. Aged and weak, but still possessing a strange power, the pirate proposes that Young Jim and Natty sail to Treasure Island in search of Captain Flint's hidden bounty, left behind many years before - Featuring a cast of noble seamen, murderous pirates, and stories of love, valour and terrible cruelty, Silver is a worthy sequel to Treasure Island- one of the greatest adventure stories ever told - and a work of extraordinary authenticity and imaginative power This recording is unabridged. Typically abridged audiobooks are not more than 60% of the author's work and as low as 30% with characters and plotlines removed.

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/04/2011

Philip Larkin is recognised as one of the most important writers to have emerged in Britain since the Second World War. First published in 1982, Andrew Motion's study begins with an account of Larkin's life and literary background and discusses his literary relationship with Hardy and Yeats and his association with the Movement. He analyses Larkin's two novels and assesses his three mature collections. Throughout the book much reference is made to uncollected reviews and articles and occasionally to unpublished manuscripts. Rather than developing the familiar line on Larkin as an empirical and melancholy writer, Andrew Motion explores the Symbolist and transcendent element in his work, and emphasises its range and variety.

The Poetry Of Edward Thomas

The Poetry Of Edward Thomas

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/05/2010

When Edward Thomas died at Arras in 1917 few people thought of him as a poet. Yet in the two years before his death, after a lifetime writing prose, Thomas wrote some of the most enduring poems of his day: poems of war, nature, friendship, despair and exultation. Andrew Motion's pioneering study of Thomas' life and achievement is scholarly yet utterly absorbing, combining an account of his struggles as a writer with perceptive readings of individual poems. Andrew Motion's books include a biography, The Lamberts, George, Constant and Kil, and several prize-winning collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Love in a Life. He is currently writing the authorized biography of Philip Larkin.

The Cinder Path

The Cinder Path

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2010

Andrew Motion's new collection (his first since Public Property in 2002) offers a ground-breaking variety of lyrics, love poems and elegies, in which private domains of feeling infer other lives and a shared humanity - exploring how people cope with threats to and in the world around them, as soldiers, lovers, artists, writers and citizens. The conversational tone and formal variety of these poems both shapes and diversifies their response to loss and its inevitabilities. Here are poems about the last surviving veteran of the trenches; poems which work with found materials drawn from the contiguous worlds of prose; poems which elicit the parallel lives glimpsed in paintings, or the other lives of birds, trees and weather (as of an ordinariness just out of reach). An unemphatic evenness of handling, in the detailing of ordinary destinies, alternates with capacious panoramas of longing and summation, and the collection ends with a remarkable group of directly autobiographical poems about the life and times of the poet's father.

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/03/2010

Philip Larkin is recognised as one of the most important writers to have emerged in Britain since the Second World War. First published in 1982, Andrew Motion's study begins with an account of Larkin's life and literary background and discusses his literary relationship with Hardy and Yeats and his association with the Movement. He analyses Larkin's two novels and assesses his three mature collections. Throughout the book much reference is made to uncollected reviews and articles and occasionally to unpublished manuscripts. Rather than developing the familiar line on Larkin as an empirical and melancholy writer, Andrew Motion explores the Symbolist and transcendent element in his work, and emphasises its range and variety.

Bedford Square 4

Bedford Square 4

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2010

In 2004, Andrew Motion established a landmark new creative writing course at Royal Holloway, University of London. Bedford Square 4 showcases the writing of his most recent graduates. Engaging, original and inspired, here are some of the brightest and most promising voices of a new generation.

Ways of Life On Places, Painters and Poets

Ways of Life On Places, Painters and Poets

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/06/2007

Andrew Motion was appointed Poet Laureate in 1999, but alongside his work as a poet he also had a significant career as a prize-winning biographer and an illuminating critic. Ways of Life celebrates this talent with a selection of his articles about painters and poets, as well as a number of striking personal pieces. The literary essays in Ways of Life look at a wide assortment of writers, from John Clare and Ivor Gurney, to marginal figures such as Leigh Hunt and Joseph Severn, and reassess the less well-known work of celebrated writers including John Donne, Christina Rossetti and Thomas Hardy. Ways of Life is an original, acute and emotionally-charged collection of writings, from a truly important and insightful writer.

In the Blood A Memoir of my Childhood

In the Blood A Memoir of my Childhood

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/06/2007

Written from a teenage child's point of view, Motion captures the pathos and puzzlement of childhood with great clarity of expression and freshness of memory. We encounter a strange but beguiling extended family, a profound love of the natural world, a troubled schooling, and a growing passion for books and writing. By turns funny, heartbreaking and elegiac, In the Blood is a deeply moving portrait of the bond between a mother and her son, and the capturing of a moment in time before the loss of childhood innocence.

In the Blood A Memoir of my Childhood

In the Blood A Memoir of my Childhood

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/12/2006

In the Blood A Memoir of my Childhood

In the Blood A Memoir of my Childhood

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/09/2006

In the Blood is Andrew Motion's beautifully written memoir of growing up in post-war England - an unforgettable evocation of family life, school life and country life. It also tells the story of how these worlds are shattered, when his mother suffers a terrible riding accident. The tragedy shadows the book, feeding its mood of elegy as well as its celebratory vigilance. Written from a teenage child's point of view, without the benefit of adult hindsight, Motion captures the pathos and puzzlement of childhood with great clarity of expression and freshness of memory. We encounter a strange but beguiling extended family, a profound love of the natural world, a troubled schooling, and a growing passion for books and writing. By turns funny and elegiac, In the Blood is a wonderful picture of a vanishing England, a remarkable insight into a poet's mind, and a deeply moving portrait of the bond between a mother and her son.

Here to Eternity

Here to Eternity

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/09/2005

A rich spectrum of poetic voices - ancient and modern, new and familiar - arranged concentrically under different headings: Self, Home, Town, Work, Land, Love, Travel, War, Belief and Space. Each section seeks out resemblances and echoes elsewhere, creating the impression of an expanding universe, from Wallace Stevens to Stevie Smith, Joseph Brodsky to Jo Shapcott, Bob Dylan to Dylan Thomas, Ben Jonson to Benjamin Zephaniah...

First World War Poems

First World War Poems

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2004

In this moving anthology, the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion guides us through the horror and the pity of the Great War, from the trenches of the Western Front to reflections from our own age. With a generous selection of our best-loved war poets, First World War Poems also returns lesser known pieces to the light, and extends the selection right through to the present day - so that poems produced by the war give way historically to poems about the war. This mesmerizing book reminds us how the poetry of that time has, more than any art form, come to stand testament to the grief and outrage occasioned by World War I.

The Invention of Dr Cake

The Invention of Dr Cake

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2004

What is the truth about the mysterious Dr Cake? Why, at his funeral, is there no name on the brass plate so ostentatiously screwed into his coffin-lid? Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate, has written a tantalising novel about poets and their afterlife.

Public Property

Public Property

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/05/2003

In his first collection since being appointed Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion negotiates the very space of poetry, moving between private and public realms, pondering each from the other's borders. In the opening series of idylls he conjures the expeditionary narratives of a rural childhood, in scenes as precisely remembered as they are irretrievable. Elsewhere he reconsiders moments from the Victorian past from reticent and surprising angles, and elsewhere again he tackles distinctly contemporary themes and situations. The final section of the book contains a number of elegies and love poems, written in a variety of lyric forms, which provoke concerns that are among the most critical in poetry: What is public art? To whom do our most private sentiments belong?

Wainewright the Poisoner

Wainewright the Poisoner

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/02/2001

A dazzling and boldly original biography by Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate and the celebrated biographer of Larkin and Keats. Thomas Griffiths Wainewright was an ingenious and unscrupulous criminal. In 1828 he inherited the handsome family home, while successive legacies allowed him to maintain a flamboyant lifestyle. Meanwhile, within the space of a few years, three of his relatives died in suspicious circumstances. Eventually tried and arrested, Wainewright was transported for life to Tasmania. Yet he had lived at the centre of the Romantic world. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and painted Byron's portrait. He was good friends with Henry Fuseli, William Blake and Charles Lamb, and knew John Clare, William Hazlitt, Thomas de Quincey and John Keats. He was known as amiable, kind, and good-hearted. Combining the form of a 'confession' with notes, asides and illuminations, Wainewright the Poisoner strips away the layers of legend and restores Wainewright to his own voice, capturing his dandified style, his charm as well as his callousness, his wit as well as his wantonness - and his deadly unreliability.

Who's Who in Twentieth Century World Poetry

Who's Who in Twentieth Century World Poetry

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/11/2000

The definitive biographical guide to poetry throughout the world in the twentieth century and the only book of its kind to look at non-English language poets in such detail. Written in lively prose, with over 900 entries by over 75 international contributors, it brings a uniquely global perspective to bear on modern verse, encapsulating the lives and works of a vast array of poets in precise, compact detail alongside expert critical comment. Who's Who in Twentieth Century World Poetry is a scholarly and hugely enjoyable guide through the diverse arena of modern international poetry.

Selected Poems of Andrew Motion

Selected Poems of Andrew Motion

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/1998

In this book Andrew Motion has made his own choice from his outstandingly fine and varied body of work. Dramatic monologues, elegies, poems of social and political observation, love lyrics - all are part of this important poet's repertoire. Andrew Motion's concern for the extremes of human experience and the artistic integrity that insists on his addressing the reader with maximum clarity and impact are consistent features of a career otherwise remarkable for its imaginative range and technical versatility.

Keats

Keats

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/09/1998

Keats is the first major biography of this tragic hero of romanticism for some thirty years, and it differs from its predecessors in important respects. The outline of the story is well known - has become, in fact, the stuff of legend: the archetypal life of the tortured genius, critically spurned and dying young. What Andrew Motion brings to bear on the subject is a deep understanding of how Keats fitted into the intellectual and political life of his time. Important friendships with such anti-establishment figures as William Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt are given their full due, and the closeness of his own spirit, as expressed in his poems, to the ferment all around is made clear. Many significant new facts about Keats's schooldays and medical training, in particular, enrich the picture. Keats emerges as a more political figure than he is usually portrayed, but his personal sufferings, too, come into closer focus. Most importantly, Andrew Motion - himself a distinguished poet and former poet laureate - demonstrates how the poems continue to exert their power. 'A definitive life of a great poet, and one of the finest biographies of the decade.' New Statesman

The Lamberts George, Constant and Kit

The Lamberts George, Constant and Kit

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/08/1995

The Price of Everything

The Price of Everything

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/03/1994

This volume brings together two long poems. 'Lines of Desire' tells the story of an individual in crisis, under pressure from past and present events. 'Joe Soap' combines narrative and lyric forms to trace a historical pattern reaching from the First World War to contemporary apocalypse. Both are remarkable additions to an important body of work.

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life

Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/03/1994

'An exemplary biography of its kind - detailed, meticulous and sympathetic.' Peter Ackroyd, The Times 'Larkin lived a quietly noble and exemplary version of the writer's life; Motion - affectionate but undeceived about the man's frailties, a diligent researcher and a deft reader of poetry - has written an equally exemplary 'Life' of him.' Peter Conrad, Observer 'Honest but not prurient, critical but also compassionate, Motion's book could not be bettered.' Alan Bennett, London Review of Books 'There will be other lives of Larkin, but Motion's, like Forster's of Dickens, will always have a special place.' John Carey, Sunday Times

Love in a Life

Love in a Life

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/1991

Love in a Life, Andrew Motion's sixth volume of poetry, marks a conspicuous development in the work of the founder of the modern Narrative School. Directness and a new colloquialism are wedded to Motion's distinctive obliquities in a volume where the idea of marriage governs the architecture of each poem and the book as a whole. The stories of two marriages gradually emerge, like chapters in a narrative, and are themselves bound to more public material, so that each lends profound resonances to the other.

Pleasure Steamers

Pleasure Steamers

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/01/1978

The Pleasure Steamers is Andrew Motion's first collection of poems. Formally adventurous, in the way his work has continued to be, the collection explores relationships, geographies and the legacy of the past to the present. Long sequences such as Inland and Anniversaries are interspersed with short, sharp lyrics which display the control, flare and delicacy which are the hallmarks of the Poet Laureate.

The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse

The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse

Author: Sir Andrew Motion Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/03/1972

Philip Larkin's Oxford Book of Twentieth-Century English Verse provoked controversy and dispute on first publication in 1973. Warmly welcomed by fellow poets John Betjeman and W.H. Auden, it was also considered a quirky and idiosyncratic collection by some critics. Today it is recognized as a fine and wide-ranging selection of modern verse, valuable not least because it reflects the tastes of one of the best, and best-loved, English poets of the twentieth century. As the successor to W.B. Yeats's Oxford Book of Modern Verse 1892-1935, this anthology made a radical re-assessment of the century's achievement in poetry; it represented verse that was 'lighter in tone, more understated, more casual, more conversational, more colloquial, in a way more democratic and more domestic than it was for Yeats'. It also introduced many little-known poets whose names have not entered the canon, and whose contributions add colour and depth to the anthology. As Philip Larkin writes in his Preface, in choosing poems rather than individuals he has brought together 'poems that will give pleasure to their readers both separately and as a collection'. For this latest reissue, the poet's biographer Andrew Motion has written a new Foreword in which he considers the nature of Larkin as editor.

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