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Walking Wounded The Life and Poetry of Vernon Scannell by James Andrew Taylor

Walking Wounded The Life and Poetry of Vernon Scannell


Walking Wounded The Life and Poetry of Vernon Scannell by James Andrew Taylor

This uncompromising biography tells the story of a wounded D-Day veteran, a deserter, a violent drunk, a loving father who abandoned his first child, a boxer and brawler, a wife-beater, a bigamist, and a passionately romantic lover. It is also, most importantly, the story of a poet. Vernon Scannell wrote some of the finest poetry to come out of the Second World War. He won the Chomondeley Prize and the Heinemann Award, and for half a century he was acknowledged as one of the leading poets in the country. His Collected Poems are still in print, and his poetry for both adults and children is regularly anthologised and appears on English Literature examination papers. Scannell died in 2007, and Walking Wounded draws on his personal diaries, poems, and other writings to offer the first detailed study of this complex, controversial, and occasionally tragic life. For the first time, the women who loved him tell their stories; his children describe growing up with a father who was funny, affectionate, sometimes violent, and often not there at all; and his fellow poets, including Seamus Heaney, Anthony Thwaite, Alan Brownjohn and Kit Wright, speak of the dedicated stylist, assured performer, and occasionally roistering drunk that they knew. Scannell was seriously wounded in Normandy shortly after D-Day, but the book looks at the deeper, mental scars from the War that he bore all his life, and of the suffering they caused to him and the people who loved him. It is an important book about an important poet, which investigates where poetry comes from, and the terrible price that sometimes has to be paid for it.


This exemplary biography ... [is] told by Taylor with supreme narrative skill. * Daniel Hitchens, The Oxonian Review * Splendid ground-breaking biography ... I cannot speak too highly of this book. * Merryn Williams, Oxford Times * eye-opening * Jim Greenhalf, Difference Between Poetry and Everything Else * Taylor's excellent biography is as compelling as a novel. * Susan Elkin, Independent on Sunday * [T]his excellent biography will perhaps reinstate one of the most respected poets of the Second World War to his rightful place in the canon This book inspires the reader to go back and look at all his poetry over again. * Virginia Ironside, The Oldie * Walking Wounded is a first-rate biography; we finish it feeling we know its subject, saddened by his death, with a new appetite for his poetry. * Wynn Wheldon, The Spectator *

About the Author

Andrew Taylor is the author of ten books, including biographies of the Arabian traveller Charles Doughty and the 16th Century cartographer Gerard Mercator, as well as books on language, literature, poetry and, history. He studied English Literature at Oxford University and worked as a Fleet Street and BBC television journalist in London and the Middle East before returning to Britain in the 1990s to concentrate on his writing career.

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Book Info

Publication date

24th October 2013


James Andrew Taylor

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Oxford University Press


456 pages


Biography: literary
Literary studies: from c 1900 -
Literary studies: poetry & poets



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