81 - 100 of 495 results


Dannie Abse

Dannie Abse

b. 1923 d. 2014

Dannie Abse (1923-2014) was a poet, playwright and novelist whose literary career spanned half a century, the first of his fourteen collections of poetry, After Every Green Thing, being published in...
Fleur Adcock

Fleur Adcock

b. 1934

Fleur Adcock (b.1934) is a New Zealander by birth but spent part of her childhood in England, returning to live in London in 1963. She worked as a librarian until 1979 before becoming a freelance...
John Agard

John Agard

b. 1949

A unique and energetic force in contemporary British poetry, John Agard's poems combine acute social observation, puckish wit and a riotous imagination to thrilling effect. Born in Guyana, South...
Patience Agbabi

Patience Agbabi

b. 1965

Patience Agbabi is a poet much celebrated for paying equal homage to literature and performance. Born in London to Nigerian parents and fostered in a white English family in North Wales, her work ...
Allan Ahlberg

Allan Ahlberg

b. 1938

Allan Ahlberg (b. 1938) is one of Britain's best-loved children's writers. The author of over a hundred books, Allan has been delighting children of all ages for more than thirty years. Classic...
Fergus Allen

Fergus Allen

b. 1921

Fergus Allen was born in London in 1921, of an Anglo-Irish father and an English mother. After childhood and Quaker schools in Ireland, he read engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, where he wrote...

Moniza Alvi

b. 1954

Moniza Alvi was born in Lahore, Pakistan, came to England when she was a few months old, and grew up in Hatfield. The experience she describes in her recording of 'growing up... and feeling half-...
Anonymous

Anonymous

Anonymous is a well-known and prolific poet. Many of the traditional folk ballads we know today may have begun as songs sung by wandering minstrels,for which authorship was unimportant. The songs...
Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage

b. 1963

Simon Armitage (b. 1963) burst onto the poetry scene with Zoom! in 1989 and quickly established himself as the most high-profile poet in the group dubbed 'The New Generation'. Born and brought up in...
Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold

b. 1822 d. 1888

Matthew Arnold was born in 1822, the son of the celebrated headmaster of Rugby, Thomas Arnold. Matthew attended Balliol College, Oxford and was a close friend of an older fellow Rugbeian, the poet...
John Ashbery

John Ashbery

b. 1927

A native of Rochester, New York, John Ashbery (b. 1927) is the prolific author of twenty three volumes of poetry, plus fiction, plays and criticism. He is the recipient of numerous literary awards,...
Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood

b. 1939

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) is familiar to readers all over the world as the author of some of the finest and most influential fiction of the last few decades. Titles like The Handmaid's Tale, Alias...
W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden

b. 1907 d. 1973

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) is one of the most influential voices in 20th Century poetry. It is impossible to summarise his achievements, ranging as they do across some four hundred poems in a...
Pam Ayres

Pam Ayres

b. 1947

Pam Ayres is celebrated in the UK (and far beyond) as a favourite radio, TV and stage entertainer; it is impossible to read her comic poems without hearing her voice in your head. She says that she...
Joanna Baillie

Joanna Baillie

b. 1762 d. 1851

Baillie was a Scottish playwright, critic and poet who lived most of her life in Hampstead, where she was the centre of a rich literary culture. Born into a family of physicians and the daughter of a...
Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

b. 1743 d. 1825

Anna Barbauld (nee Aikin) was born in 1743, daughter of a nonconformist minister and schoolmaster, who taught her to read English before she was three and to master French, Italian, Latin and Greek...
Sebastian Barker

Sebastian Barker

b. 1945 d. 2014

Sebastian Barker (1945–2014) was the author of many books of poetry and editor of The London Magazine. An ex-chairman of the Poetry Society, he was a director of several literary festivals, including...
William Barnes

William Barnes

b. 1801 d. 1866

William Barnes was a Dorset‑dialect poet and artist. An extremely learned man with knowledge of many languages, he worked for some time as a schoolteacher, running his own schools with his wife,...
Elizabeth Bartlett

Elizabeth Bartlett

b. 1924 d. 2008

Elizabeth Bartlett (1924 - 2008) grew up in Deal, Kent. Her childhood was one of hardship and although she gained a grammar school scholarship she left education at fifteen. At nineteen she married...
Paul Batchelor

Paul Batchelor

b. 1977

Paul Batchelor (b. 1977) has received several awards for his poetry including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Poetry Business Prize, and the Andrew Waterhouse Award. His first...
Edward Baugh

Edward Baugh

b. 1936

Edward Baugh is probably best known as a literary critic whose distinguished academic career has been devoted to West Indian literature, especially the study of Anglophone Caribbean poetry, and in...
Patricia Beer

Patricia Beer

b. 1924 d. 1999

Patricia Beer (1924-1999) was born in Exmouth, Devon, into a Plymouth Brethren family, a childhood she recalls vividly in her autobiography Mrs Beer's House. Educated at Exmouth Grammar School,...
Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn

b. 1640 d. 1689

Aphra Behn was the first female writer to make her living through her art; she was a significant seventeenth‑century dramatist,The Rover being one of her best‑known plays. Little is known of her...
Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc

b. 1870 d. 1953

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) was a larger-than-life character who is now best known for his Cautionary Verses but who also wrote fiction, essays, history, biography and huge numbers of letters. He was...

Connie Bensley

b. 1929

Knowing, precise and often cheerfully acerbic, Connie Bensley’s poems revel in poking gentle fun at the self-deceptions and delusions of middle-class suburban life. Whether she brings her lapidary...
Gerard Benson

Gerard Benson

b. 1931 d. 2014

How delightful to know Mr Benson
Everyone wants to know him
So witty and charming and handsome
(Though some think he’s ugly and dim).
Delightful indeed, and of course the homage to Edward Lear is...

Tara Bergin

b. 1974

Tara Bergin was born in Dublin and moved to the UK in 2002 to undertake academic research. This culminated in a PhD on Ted Hughes's translations of the post-war Hungarian poet János Pilinszky which...
Emily Berry

Emily Berry

b. 1981

Emily Berry is one of an increasingly distinct generation of poets to emerge in the UK since the early 2000’s, including Luke Kennard (whom Berry cites as an influence), Heather Phillipson, Oli...
Liz Berry

Liz Berry

b. 1980

Liz Berry was born and brought up in the Black Country, and now lives in Birmingham. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2009, and an Arvon-Jerwood mentorship in 2011, and in 2012 she won the...
James Berry

James Berry

b. 1924

James Berry (b. 1924) spent his childhood in a village in Jamaica, before working in the United States, finally settling in Britain in 1948 where he has remained ever since. One of the first black...
James Berry - Children's Poems

James Berry Children's Poems

b. 1924

James Berry's poems take you back to the noises, sights and smells of his Jamaican childhood. James was born in 1924 in a small village surrounded by fields and fruit trees. Through his writing James...
John Betjeman

John Betjeman

b. 1906 d. 1984

John Betjeman (1906-1984) achieved huge success during his lifetime and continues to retain his 'National Treasure' status more than twenty years after his death. His gift for comic writing, his...
Judith Beveridge

Judith Beveridge

b. 1956

Judith Beveridge (born 1956) migrated with her family from London to Sydney in 1960 where she has lived ever since. Although she has only published three books of poetry (a fourth volume is due in...
Sujata Bhatt

Sujata Bhatt

b. 1956

Sujata Bhatt (b. 1956) grew up in Pune but emigrated with her family to the United States in 1968. She studied in the States receiving an MFA from the University of Iowa and went on to be writer-in-...
Ruth Bidgood

Ruth Bidgood

b. 1922

Ruth Bidgood (née Jones) was born in Seven Sisters (Blaendulais), Vale of Neath, in 1922. Aged seven, she moved to Alberafan; she attended grammar school at Port Talbot, then read English at St Hugh'...
Julia Bird

Julia Bird

b. 1971

Julia Bird's poetry explores modern life with both precise observation and cinematic sweep. Her debut collection, Hannah and the Monk, is brimming with tall tales and urban myths, and a heady mixture...
Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

b. 1911 d. 1979

Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) at the time of her death was respected as a "writer's writer" on account of her technical mastery and exemplary patience and dedication to her craft. Since then her...
William Blake

William Blake

b. 1757 d. 1827

William Blake was born in London in 1757 and spent most of his long life there. The son of a hosier, he left ordinary school at the age of ten to join a drawing school, and at fourteen became...
Valerie Bloom

Valerie Bloom

b. 1956

A Valerie Bloom reading is an uplifting experience, one that can coax even a shy British poetry audience into joyful participation, hands in the air to carry imaginary cake boxes, as they join in...
Edmund Blunden

Edmund Blunden

b. 1896 d. 1974

Edmund Blunden (1896-1974) is a poet whose work and life were moulded by his experience of the First World War. Blunden was born in London but grew up in Kent, a childhood which laid the foundation...
Rachael Boast

Rachael Boast

b. 1975

Born in Suffolk, Rachael Boast studied English and Philosophy at Wolverhampton University, after which she relocated to Bristol. In 2005 she moved to St Andrews to begin an MLit in Creative Writing....
Louise Bogan

Louise Bogan

b. 1897 d. 1970

Born in Maine in 1897, Louise Bogan was the daughter of a mill worker and a mentally and emotionally unstable mother. Her childhood was restless: as the Bogans moved from one New England town to the...
Phil Bowen

Phil Bowen

b. 1949

Born in Liverpool in 1949, Phil Bowen was heavily influenced by the lively Mersey scene of the sixties and seventies, which produced the Beatles and the Mersey Beat Poets. He has edited two poetry...
Charles Boyle

Charles Boyle

b. 1951

Charles Boyle was born in Leeds, and worked in for a long time in publishing, including fourteen years at Faber and Faber. He is the author of six collections of poetry: Affinities (1977), House of...
Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle

b. 1951

Peter Boyle (b. 1951) grew up in Melbourne and Sydney, graduating from Sydney University specialising in Philosophy and Literature. He began writing poetry at age 15 but it was not until 42 that his...
Alison Brackenbury

Alison Brackenbury

b. 1953

Alison Brackenbury was born in 1953 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. She read English at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, and has worked as a librarian in a technical college (1976-83), then as a part-time...

Anne Bradstreet

b. 1612 d. 1672

Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612 in England. In 1630 she emigrated to Massachusetts, with her father Thomas Dudley and her husband Simon Bradstreet. They sailed as members of the expedition led by...
Patrick Brandon

Patrick Brandon

b. 1965

Patrick Brandon (b.1965) is a regularly exhibiting visual artist whose poems display a painter’s eye for telling detail and a skilled command of striking imagery. His lines frequently tug at the...
Charles Brasch

Charles Brasch

b. 1909 d. 1973

Charles Brasch belonged to a generation of New Zealand poets who, rising to prominence in the 1940s, expressed anxieties that, while personal and pākehā (non-Māori), seemed endemic to both the nation...

Kamau Brathwaite

b. 1930

In its insistent rhythms and vivid parsing of postcolonial histories, Kamau Brathwaite’s poetry is among the most significant to emerge from the West Indies in the last century. Born in Barbados in...
Jean Binta Breeze

Jean Binta Breeze

b. 1956

Jean 'Binta' Breeze (b. 1956) was brought up by her grandparents who were peasant farmers in rural Jamaica. She studied at the Jamaican School of Drama before travelling to Britain when she was...
Diana Bridge

Diana Bridge

b. 1942

Diana Bridge introduces her second collection of poems, The Girls on the Wall (1999), with a quote from M.M. Bakhtin who remarked that "outsidedness is a most powerful factor in understanding [......
Robert Bridges

Robert Bridges

b. 1844 d. 1930

Robert Bridges was a trained doctor working in London hospitals until 1882, a classicist and poet who served as Poet Laureate from 1913 until his death in 1930. Educated at Eton and Corpus Christi...
Edwin Brock

Edwin Brock

b. 1927 d. 1997

Edwin Brock (1927-1997) wrote two of the best-known poems of the last century, 'Five Ways to Kill a Man' and 'Song of the Battery Hen', but his work deserves wider recognition beyond these anthology...
Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte

b. 1818 d. 1848

Emily Bronte was born in 1818, the daughter of Irishman Patrick Bronte, perpetual curate of Haworth, Yorkshire. Emily's mother died in 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to the care of their aunt...
Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks

b. 1917 d. 2000

Gwendolyn Brooks grew up in Chicago in a poor yet stable and loving family. Her father was a janitor who had hoped to become a doctor; her mother a teacher and classically trained pianist. Brooks was...
George Mackay Brown

George Mackay Brown

b. 1921 d. 1996

George Mackay Brown (1921-1996) was born in the remote Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland and apart from two periods of education at Newbattle Abbey College and the University of...
Robert Browning

Robert Browning

b. 1812 d. 1889

Robert Browning was born in South London in 1812. He was largely self-educated, utilising his father's extensive library of over six thousand volumes. A voracious reader, Browning would later draw on...
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

b. 1806 d. 1861

Elizabeth Barrett was born in 1806, the eldest of twelve children of Edward Barrett, whose fortune was derived from Jamaican plantations. She was largely self-educated at home: something of a prodigy...
Alan Brownjohn

Alan Brownjohn

b. 1931

Alan Brownjohn (b. 1931) grew up in London and was educated at Merton College, Oxford. He worked first as a schoolteacher and then a lecturer before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 1979. His...
Colette Bryce

Colette Bryce

b. 1970

Colette Bryce was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, and lived in London for many years before moving to Scotland in 2002, where she held a fellowship in Creative Writing at the University of Dundee....
Basil Bunting

Basil Bunting

b. 1900 d. 1985

Basil Bunting (1900-1985) is best known for his long poem 'Briggflatts' which has come to be recognised as one of the key texts of British modernism. 'Briggflatts' was the culmination of a lifelong...
Robert Burns

Robert Burns

b. 1759 d. 1796

Burns started life as a ploughman in Scotland but is now one of the world’s most celebrated poets. Every January, his life is remembered with whisky, haggis, singing and dancing on Burns Night....
Joanne Burns

Joanne Burns

b. 1945

joanne burns was born in Sydney in 1945 and has lived there for most of her life, never far from the shores of Sydney Harbour. Over a dozen collections of her writing have been published. Her first...
John Burnside

John Burnside

b. 1955

John Burnside (b. 1955) is the author of eleven collections of poetry and five works of fiction. Burnside has achieved wide critical acclaim, winning the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2000 for The Asylum...
Dan Burt

Dan Burt

b. 1942

Dan Burt's poems offer the reader a dual perspective on American culture, drawing on the poet's personal experience of being both an insider and an outsider. The son of Jewish immigrants, Burt grew...

Catherine Byron

b. 1947

Catherine Byron is an Irish poet who often collaborates with visual and sound artists. Her first book of poetry, Settlements, appeared in 1985, and she has since published five collections, the most...
Lord Byron

Lord Byron

b. 1788 d. 1824

George Byron was born in 1788 with a deformed foot: he limped all his life. His father was 'Mad Jack' Byron, an infamous adventurer who abandoned his wife and family in 1790 and died in 1791. At the...
Caroline Caddy

Caroline Caddy

b. 1944

Caroline Caddy was born in Perth, Western Australia, 1944 and spent her childhood in the United States of America and Japan. Since then Caroline has lived much of her life in Western Australia, where...
Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell

b. 1925 d. 2009

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell was the first Polynesian poet to have a collection published in English, Mine Eyes Dazzle, published in 1950. The attractive qualities of his poems are obvious: confident...
Christian Campbell

Christian Campbell

b. 1979

Christian Campbell’s debut collection, Running the Dusk, was published to international critical acclaim in 2010. It was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Cave Canem...
Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo

b. 1973

Vahni Capildeo has lived in the UK since 1991, where she has published four poetry collections including Undraining Sea (2009), Dark & Unaccustomed Words (2012) – longlisted for the 2013 OCM...
Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll

b. 1832 d. 1898

Lewis Carroll was the literary pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born in 1832, the third in a family of eleven children; he had seven younger sisters. In childhood, he produced magazines for his...
Hayden Carruth

Hayden Carruth

b. 1921 d. 2008

Hayden Carruth was born in 1921, in Waterbury, Connecticut, and educated at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Chicago where he gained an MA. After serving in...
Ciaran Carson

Ciaran Carson

b. 1948

Ciaran Carson (b. 1948) is the author of nine books of poetry and four prose works, and the winner of several awards including the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and the...
James Carter

James Carter

b. 1959

An award-winning children’s poet, guitarist and writer-in-schools, James Carter lives with his family in Oxfordshire. He travels throughout the UK and abroad with his guitar (called Keith) to schools...
Charles Causley

Charles Causley

b. 1917 d. 2003

Charles Causley (1917-2003) was born and brought up in Launceston, Cornwall and lived there for most of his life. When he was only seven his father died from wounds sustained during the First World...
C.P Cavafy

C. P. Cavafy

b. 1863 d. 1933

Cavafy is widely considered to be one of the greatest Greek poets of the twentieth century. A perfectionist as regards his work, which he constantly revised, he published only 154 poems in his...
G.K Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton

b. 1874 d. 1936

Chesterton is probably best known for his popular priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared in over fifty short stories. However, he was also a poet, biographer, essayist, dramatist, critic,...
Billy Childish

Billy Childish

b. 1959

Billy Childish (b. Steven John Hamper, 1959, Chatham, England) is a prolific poet, author, musician, and painter. A cult figure in Europe, America, and Japan, he has published over 40 collections of...
Amy Clampitt

Amy Clampitt

b. 1920 d. 1994

Amy Clampitt was born in Iowa in 1920 and grew up on the 300-acre farm owned by her Quaker grandparents in New Providence. She spent much of her childhood exploring the countryside which, coupled...
John Clare

John Clare

b. 1793 d. 1864

John Clare, the son of a casual labourer, was born in Helpstone, Northamptonshire. His twin sister died a few weeks after their birth and he was brought up in poverty, only attending school very...
Polly Clark

Polly Clark

b. 1968

Polly Clark was born in Toronto, Canada and brought up in Lancashire, Cumbria and the Borders of Scotland. She has pursued several careers, including zoo-keeping at Edinburgh Zoo, teaching English in...
Austin Clarke

Austin Clarke

b. 1896 d. 1974

Austin Clarke (1896-1974), along with Louis MacNeice and Patrick Kavanagh, is regarded as one of the leading Irish poets in the generation after Yeats. Born in Dublin he spent most of his life in...
Gillian Clarke

Gillian Clarke

b. 1937

Gillian Clarke (b. 1937) is one of the central figures in contemporary Welsh poetry, the third to take up the post of National Poet of Wales. Her own poems have achieved widespread critical and...
Arthur Hugh Clough

Arthur Hugh Clough

b. 1819 d. 1861

Clough suffered from periods of religious doubt throughout his life. His inability to subscribe to the Thirty‑nine Articles, which detailed the beliefs of the Church of England, meant that he felt...
Mandy Coe

Mandy Coe

Based in the north-west of England, Mandy Coe writes poetry for adults and children. A Hawthornden Fellow, she is winner of several prizes, including the Ilkley and Ted Waters Memorial Prize. She was...
Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

b. 1861 d. 1907

Intellectually gifted Mary Coleridge was the great-grand‑niece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Her parents were impressively well connected to writers and musicians in the London of the last half of the...
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

b. 1772 d. 1874

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772, the tenth and youngest child of the schoolmaster of the country town of Ottery St Mary. After the death of his father he attended Christ's Hospital School...
Billy Collins

Billy Collins

b. 1941

Billy Collins (b. 1941) is a genuinely popular poet whose books have sold over 200,000 copies since the appearance of his first collection, Pokerface, in 1977. Born in New York City he attended the...
Stewart Conn

Stewart Conn

b. 1936

Stewart Conn is one of Scotland’s more softly spoken bards, but his particular Celtic muse is no less intense for all his quieter rhetorical flourishes and domestic asides. Indeed, his poetry has an...
David Constantine

David Constantine

b. 1944

"Poetry now, every bit as much as in the Romantic age, is a utopian demonstration, by aesthetic means, of what true freedom would be like. It engages us to imagine something better than what at...
Wendy Cope

Wendy Cope

b. 1945

Wendy Cope (b. 1945) is a poet whose witty lyrics and pitch-perfect parodies have gained her a readership far beyond most of her peers. Born in Erith, Kent, she read History at St. Hilda's College,...
Julia Copus

Julia Copus

b. 1969

Julia Copus was born in London in 1969 and grew up in a house with three brothers who were learning to play musical instruments. Two of them later went on to be professional musicians, and Copus has...
William Cowper

William Cowper

b. 1731 d. 1800

William Cowper was a popular poet and writer of hymns. His descriptions of everyday life in the English countryside changed nature writing in the eighteenth century, in many ways preparing the ground...
Robert Crawford

Robert Crawford

b. 1959

In his poem ‘Alba Einstein’ Robert Crawford re-imagines the famous scientist as a Scot (‘He’d always worn brogues. / Ate bannocks in exile’), a deceptively lighthearted take on one of the poet’s most...
Alison Croggon

Alison Croggon

b. 1962

Alison Croggon (b. 1962) has been described as "one of the most assured of a new generation of Australian poets." She is the author of three full-length collections published in Australia, whilst a...
Kevin Crossley-Holland

Kevin Crossley Holland

b. 1941

Kevin Crossley-Holland (b. 1941) grew up with a passion for history, encouraged by a father who recited folk tales to his son, accompanying himself on a Welsh harp. The young Kevin was so entranced...
Claire Crowther

Claire Crowther

b. 1947

Claire Crowther lives in Somerset and has worked as a consumer journalist, editor, and communications director for many years.  As an undergraduate at Manchester University, she won the Shakespeare...
E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings

b. 1894 d. 1962

E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) was born and brought up in Cambridge Massachusetts, and is remembered above all for his startling innovations in syntax and typography. His early experiments in poetry...
Allen Curnow

Allen Curnow

b. 1911 d. 2001

Allen Curnow (1911-2001) is a central figure in the emergence of an authentic New Zealand literature. A clue to this pivotal role can perhaps be traced in the fruitful duality of his parentage: born...
Fred D'Aguiar

Fred D'Aguiar

b. 1960

Fred D'Aguiar (b. 1960) draws on his dual Guyanese/British heritage throughout his writing which incorporates poetry, novels and plays. Although born in London, he lived in Guyana until he was twelve...
Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

b. 1916 d. 1990

Roald Dahl (1916-1990) is one of the most successful children's writers in the world: around thirty million of his books have been sold in the U.K. alone. Children love his poems and stories because...
Peter Dale

Peter Dale

b. 1938

Peter Dale (b. 1938) studied English at Oxford University where he became friends with the poets Ian Hamilton and Kevin Crossley-Holland, and William Cookson with whom Dale went on to edit the...
Luke Davies

Luke Davies

b. 1962

Luke Davies (b.1962) is a critically acclaimed poet, novelist, and screenplay writer. Davies was raised in the Sydney suburb of West Pymble, and studied Arts at the University of Sydney. His third...
W.H Davies

W. H. Davies

b. 1871 d. 1940

The Welsh poet William Henry Davies wrote the poem ‘Leisure’, which famously begins:‘What is this life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare.’
The poem’s theme is reflected in Davies’s...

Dick Davis

b. 1945

Dick Davis, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, has been hailed by the TLS as 'our finest translator of Persian poetry', and retired in 2012 from the Ohio State University where he was...
Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes

b. 1962

Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes moved to Jamaica in 1971 and spent most of his childhood and early adult life there. As well as poetry, he is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, and plays; he also...
C. Day Lewis

C. Day Lewis

b. 1904 d. 1972

Cecil Day-Lewis (who wrote as C. Day Lewis) was born in Ireland in 1904, the son of a Church of Ireland minister. The family moved to England in 1905 and his mother died three years later, when Cecil...
Walter de la Mare

Walter de la Mare

b. 1873 d. 1956

Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) was the prolific author of many volumes of poetry, short stories and novels, including one of the most enduringly popular poems in the English language, 'The Listeners...
Felix Dennis

Felix Dennis

b. 1947 d. 2014

Felix Dennis (1947 - 2014) was the colourful publishing entrepreneur whose company, Dennis Publishing, owns many successful titles including flagship publication The Week. A regular fixture in the...
Imtiaz Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker

b. 1954

Born in Pakistan and brought up in Scotland, Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and documentary film-maker who divides her time between London and India. This mixed heritage and itinerant lifestyle is...
Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

b. 1830 d. 1886

Only seven of Emily Dickinson's poems were published in her lifetime; these were heavily edited. Many of the rest were found after her death, in little packets bound together to make small books....
Peter Didsbury

Peter Didsbury

b. 1946

Peter Didsbury has described himself as ‘someone who’s constitutionally fascinated by myth and the weight of the past’ and indeed his poems seem to conjure a particular, possibly bygone England...

Isobel Dixon

b. 1969

Isobel Dixon was born in Mthatha, South Africa. She studied English at Stellenbosch University, before pursuing postgraduate study at Edinburgh University. She now lives in Cambridge and works as a...
Berlie Doherty

Berlie Doherty

b. 1943

Twice-winner of the Carnegie Medal for children’s literature, and one-time runner-up (no author has won the award three times), Berlie Doherty has written over 60 books including novels for children...
Michael Donaghy

Michael Donaghy

b. 1954 d. 2004

The death of Michael Donaghy (1954-2004) robbed the poetry world of one of its most talented and charismatic practitioners. Born in New York of Irish descent, Donaghy grew up in the Bronx where his...
John Donne

John Donne

b. 1572 d. 1631

John Donne was the greatest non-dramatic poet of his time, and its most admired preacher. He was born in 1571, a Londoner and the son of Catholic parents. In his teens, he attended both Oxford and...
Rita Dove

Rita Dove

b. 1952

Rita Dove (b. 1952) was encouraged by her parents to read widely from a young age and she explored all that the local library in Akron, Ohio, had to offer. Dove went on to study English at Miami...
Jane Draycott

Jane Draycott

b. 1954

Jane Draycott studied at King's College London and Bristol, where she took a postgraduate degree in Medieval English Literature. Her most recent poetry collection, Over, (Carcanet, 2009) was...
John Dryden

John Dryden

b. 1631 d. 1700

John Dryden was one of the dominant literary figures of the English Restoration period. He began his prolific and versatile writing career in the Puritan era before Charles II became king, and wrote...
W.E.B. DuBois

W. E. B. DuBois

b. 1868 d. 1963

Sociologist, civil rights campaigner, historian, Harvard graduate, anti-war activist, academic, essayist, novelist, communist and, of course, poet, W.E.B. DuBois was passionately committed to...
Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy

b. 1955

On May 1st 2009, Carol Ann Duffy became the UK's twentieth Poet Laureate. She is one of Britain's best known and most admired poets. Her poems appeal to those who wouldn't usually read poetry and...
Ian Duhig

Ian Duhig

b. 1954

Ian Duhig (b. 1954) was the eighth of eleven children born to Irish parents with a liking for poetry. He has won the National Poetry Competition twice, and also the Forward Prize for Best Poem; his...
Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

b. 1872 d. 1906

Dunbar was one of the first African-American poets to be widely known and admired in America. His parents were freed slaves and Dunbar used some of their tales of plantation life in his work.
After a...
Helen Dunmore

Helen Dunmore

b. 1952

Helen Dunmore (b. 1952) is the second of four children, her father the eldest of twelve. As she says herself "In a large family you hear a great many stories," a grounding which has influenced her...
Douglas Dunn

Douglas Dunn

b. 1942

Douglas Dunn (b. 1942) was awarded an OBE in 2003 for his services to literature over a career that includes many books of plays, poems, essays and fiction, as author and editor, and awards such as...
Jane Duran

Jane Duran

b. 1944

Jane Duran (b. 1944) is a writer whose work is often preoccupied with memory and exile. Born in Cuba, she grew up in the USA and Chile, the daughter of an American mother and a Spanish father who met...
Stephen Edgar

Stephen Edgar

b. 1951

Stephen Edgar (b. 1951) has been described by Clive James as standing out "among recent Australian poets for the perfection of his craft, a limitless wealth of cultural reference and an unmatched...

Jonathan Edwards

b. 1979

Jonathan Edwards was born in Newport, South Wales and grew up in Crosskeys. He received a BA in English and American Literature and an MA in Writing from the University of Warwick, and now teaches...
David Eggleton

David Eggleton

b. 1952

Of Rotuman, Tongan and European/Pakeha ancestry, David Eggleton was raised in Auckland and Fiji. As well as his poetry, Eggleton writes extensively on New Zealand art and music, edits New Zealand’s...
T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot

b. 1888 d. 1965

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) as a poet and critic came to define the modernist movement and still dominates the literary landscape of the last century. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri to a prominent...
Brook Emery

Brook Emery

b. 1949

In launching the second collection of poems by Brook Emery, University of Newcastle lecturer and critic Christopher Pollnitz declared "Misplaced Heart is the best book of Australian poetry I've read...
William Empson

William Empson

b. 1906 d. 1984

William Empson (1906-1984) is best remembered as one of the most important and idiosyncratic literary critics of the 20th Century but he was also an influential poet whose output, though small, was...
D. J. Enright

D. J. Enright

b. 1920 d. 2002

D. J. Enright (1920-2002) was born in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, into a family of modest means. However, the young Dennis won a place at Downing College, Cambridge where he was influenced by...
Riemke Ensing

Riemke Ensing

b. 1939

Born in The Netherlands, Riemke Ensing moved to New Zealand in 1951. A distinguished poet, Ensing’s life has also been spent as a tutor at The University of Auckland (NZ), where until recently she...
Bernardine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo

b. 1959

Bernardine Evaristo was born in Woolwich, south east London, the fourth of eight children, to an English mother, a schoolteacher, and Nigerian father, a welder and local Labour councillor. She was...
Gavin Ewart

Gavin Ewart

b. 1916 d. 1995

Gavin Ewart was born in London in 1916, of Scottish descent. He was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire, and Christ’s College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, Ewart was literary editor of Granta...
Ruth Fainlight

Ruth Fainlight

b. 1931

Ruth Fainlight (b. New York, 1931) is an award-winning poet and translator, whose collections, starting with Cages in 1966, have spanned five decades. Her 1976 collection Another Full Moon was...
John Fairfax

John Fairfax

b. 1930 d. 2009

John Fairfax (1930 – 2009) was a remarkable poet whose reputation has largely been overshadowed by his achievement as co-founder of the celebrated Arvon Foundation. Yet his poetry deserves better,...
U. A. Fanthorpe

U A Fanthorpe

b. 1929 d. 2009

U. A. Fanthorpe (1929 - 2009) spent her earliest years in Kent. She attended St Anne's College Oxford afterwards becoming a teacher and ultimately Head of English at Cheltenham Ladies' College....
Helen Farish

Helen Farish

b. 1962

Helen Farish was born in Cumbria in 1962, where she now lives. She has been a Fellow at Hawthornden International Centre for Writers and was the first female Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust...
Paul Farley

Paul Farley

b. 1965

Paul Farley (b.1965) began winning awards with Poetry Review's Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, took the Forward Prize for Best First Collection with The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You, and won the...
Vicki Feaver

Vicki Feaver

b. 1943

Vicki Feaver (b. 1943) grew up in Nottingham "in a house of quarrelling women", an emotional inheritance which finds later expression in her poetry. She studied Music at Durham University and English...
Elaine Feinstein

Elaine Feinstein

b. 1930

Elaine Feinstein (b.1930) is from Bootle, Lancashire and was educated at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has worked as an editor, a university lecturer and a journalist. From 1976 she has lived on...
James Fenton

James Fenton

b. 1949

James Fenton (b. 1949) grew up in Lincolnshire and Staffordshire and was educated at Repton and Magdalen College, Oxford where he won the prestigious Newdigate Prize for his sonnet sequence 'Our...
Anne Finch

Anne Finch

b. 1661 d. 1720

Anne Finch was an aristocrat acquainted with the most famous poet of the age, Alexander Pope. However, during her lifetime, her poetry was little known and would have remained obscure had not William...
Roy Fisher

Roy Fisher

b. 1930

Roy Fisher (b. 1930) grew up in Birmingham and was educated at the local grammar school and Birmingham University. He worked as a teacher of English in schools and colleges, including latterly the...
Leontia Flynn

Leontia Flynn

b. 1974

Leontia Flynn was lauded by Fran Brearton as: "one of the most strikingly original and exciting poetic voices to have emerged from Northern Ireland since [Paul] Muldoon". She was born in County Down...
Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché

b. 1950

Carolyn Forché was born in Detroit in 1950, her mother was a Czech-American journalist, her father a tool and die maker. Forché calls herself a 'junk-heap Catholic' - she is perpetually drawn to...
Mark Ford

Mark Ford

b. 1962

Mark Ford was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1962; he grew up there, and in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, the U.S.A., Hong Kong, Bahrain and the UK. He holds a B.A. and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, and...
John Foster

John Foster

b. 1941

John Foster is one of the most highly regarded and successful contemporary children’s’ poets and poetry anthologists in the UK, and has countless publications to his name. Junior Education has...
Adam Foulds

Adam Foulds

b. 1974

Adam Foulds (born 1974) is a poet and novelist who writes with striking range and ambition. His verse novella, The Broken Word won the Costa Poetry Prize in 2008. By then, Foulds had already won the...
S.J. Fowler

S. J. Fowler

b. 1983

S. J. Fowler is a poet, artist, martial artist & vanguardist. He works in the modernist and avant-garde traditions, across poetry, fiction, sonic art, visual art, installation and performance. He...
Janet Frame

Janet Frame

b. 1924 d. 2004

Known primarily as a prose-writer, Janet Frame’s passion since the age of nine was for poetry. She never stopped writing poems, expressing the recurrent themes of nature, animals, people, death and...
Matthew Francis

Matthew Francis

b. 1956

Matthew Francis was born in Hampshire in 1956 and educated at the City of London School and Magdalene College, Cambridge. After more than ten years in the IT industry, he enrolled at Southampton...
Annie Freud

Annie Freud

b. 1948

Annie Freud was born in London in 1948. She is the daughter of painter Lucian Freud, maternal grand-daughter of sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, and the great grand daughter of Sigmund Freud. Her parents...
Robert Frost

Robert Frost

b. 1874 d. 1963

Robert Lee Frost, named after the Confederate general, was born in 1874 in California, nine years after the end of the Civil War. His father was an unsuccessful politician and a severe and humourless...
John Fuller

John Fuller

b. 1937

As a tutor and now Emeritus Fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford, and winner of accolades including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, a Cholmondeley Award and a Forward Prize, John Fuller (b. 1937)...

Dawn Garisch

b. 1958

Dawn Garisch has had five novels, a collection of poetry Difficult Gifts and a memoir/popular science work Eloquent Body published. Both short stories and poetry have been published in anthologies,...
David Gascoyne

David Gascoyne

b. 1916 d. 2001

David Gascoyne (1916-2001) was born in Harrow, the son of a bank manager, and educated at Salisbury Cathedral School. However, it didn't take the young Gascoyne long to leave this conservative...
Ruth Gilbert

Ruth Gilbert

b. 1917

In the 1950s and 60s Ruth Gilbert received more than her fair share of male condescension and negativity. Reviewing The Luthier (which won the Jessie Mackay Memorial Award for Verse along with James...
Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg

b. 1926 d. 1997

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) is cherished as the pivotal figure between the 50s Beat Generation and the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s. He was born in Newark, New Jersey the son of a high...
Chrissie Gittins

Chrissie Gittins

Chrissie Gittins' poetry for children is rich and varied in both form and subject; her three collections are bursting with everything from limericks to list poems, shape-poems to songs, and manage to...
Denis Glover

Denis Glover

b. 1912 d. 1980

Denis Glover emerged as a poet in New Zealand in the 1930s, one of the new artistic generation of modernists and nationalists. A product of two of New Zealand’s elite secondary schools — Auckland...
Peter Goldsworthy

Peter Goldsworthy

b. 1951

Peter Goldsworthy (b. 1951) has been described as "one of the most skilled and satisfying poets in Australia," (A Reader's Guide to Contemporary Australian Poetry). Born in Minlaton, S. Australia he...
Lorna Goodison

Lorna Goodison

b. 1947

Lorna Goodison is one of the finest Caribbean poets of her generation and lauded as such by Kwame Dawes in the Caribbean Writer: "Superlatives glint all over commentary on Lorna Goodison's work......

Rebecca Goss

b. 1974

Rebecca Goss has described poetry as ‘an invitation to look very closely at something’, and her refined, spare style certainly supports this idea; as Val McDermid has written, ‘[her] language is...
W. S. Graham

W. S. Graham

b. 1918 d. 1986

W. S. Graham (1918-1986) was neglected in his own lifetime but his reputation as a major modernist romantic has been growing steadily since his death, with the help of influential champions such as...
Robert Graves

Robert Graves

b. 1895 d. 1985

Robert Graves (1895-1985) was a writer of extraordinary breadth whose output ranges from a classic account of his First World War experiences, Goodbye to All That, through the "potboiler" (his own...
Thomas Gray

Thomas Gray

b. 1716 d. 1771

Written over several years in the 1740s, Gray’s elegy was eventually published in 1751 and enjoyed phenomenal popularity for the next two hundred years.
Gray was a versatile poet. He wrote elegant...
Lavinia Greenlaw

Lavinia Greenlaw

b. 1962

Lavinia Greenlaw (b. 1962) is a Londoner by birth and has lived in the city for much of her life. Born into a family of scientists, scientific subject matter forms an important and much-commented on...
Linda Gregg

Linda Gregg

b. 1951

Linda Gregg [b. 1951], though born in New York, grew up in the woods of Marin County, California, the first of many landscapes that were to influence her work. She attended San Francisco State...
Andrew Greig

Andrew Greig

b. 1951

Andrew Greig's second collection Men on Ice in 1977 changed his life. He had been what he calls an "armchair climber", attracted by "the imagery and intensities" of climbing - however, mountaineer...
Vona Groarke

Vona Groarke

b. 1964

Vona Groarke is one of the leading Irish poets of her generation. Born in Mostrim, Ireland, she studied at Trinity College, Dublin and University College, Cork. She has held positions at Villanova...
Philip Gross

Philip Gross

b. 1952

Philip Gross was born in Delabole, north Cornwall, as the only child of a wartime Displaced Person from Estonia and the village schoolmaster's daughter. He grew up in Plymouth, studied English at...
Philip Gross Children's Poems

Philip Gross Children's Poems

b. 1952

Philip Gross was born in 1952 in Delabole, North Cornwall, the only child of a wartime refugee from Estonia and the village schoolmaster's daughter. He began writing stories in junior school.
Winner...
Kelly Grovier

Kelly Grovier

b. 1968

Kelly Grovier (b. 1968) grew up in America and was educated at the University of California, Los Angeles. He came to study at Oxford University after winning a British Marshall scholarship, and now...
Harry Guest

Harry Guest

b. 1932

Harry Guest was born in Wales in 1932. After four years at Malvern College, he read Modern Languages at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, before attending the Sorbonne, where he wrote a thesis on Stéphane...
Thom Gunn

Thom Gunn

b. 1929 d. 2004

Thom Gunn (1929-2004) is a poet whose work thrives on contrast and contradiction: English tradition and American idiom; strict form and free verse; intellectual discipline and physical hedonism are...

Ivor Gurney

b. 1890 d. 1937

Ivor Gurney suffered periods of mental ill health before the First World War, but his condition had deteriorated significantly by the end of the conflict. He had joined up after initially being...
Marilyn Hacker

Marilyn Hacker

b. 1942

Marilyn Hacker (b. 1942) is a poet whose work combines the political and the personal, the traditional and the radical, to startling effect. She is a New Yorker, born in the Bronx to Jewish parents...
Jen Hadfield

Jen Hadfield

b. 1978

In 2008, Jen Hadfield became the youngest person to win the TS Eliot Prize with her collection Nigh-No-Place. Judge Tobias Hill celebrated her "sheer joy of poetry", while fellow judge Andrew Motion...
Michael Hamburger

Michael Hamburger

b. 1924 d. 2007

Michael Hamburger (1924 - 2007) was born into a German family of Jewish descent in Berlin, emigrating with them to England in 1933. He attended Westminster School and read Modern Languages at Christ...
Susan Hampton

Susan Hampton

b. 1949

Susan Hampton (b. 1949) was born in Inverell, New South Wales. She taught literature and journalism and has been writer-in-residence at several Australian universities. Since 1992, she has lived in...
Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah

b. 1971

Sophie Hannah is a poet and crime fiction writer. Her crime fiction frequently appears on bestseller lists and her poetry is praised by her contemporaries, readers and critics for its comic and off-...
Choman Hardi

Choman Hardi

b. 1974

Choman Hardi is the seventh and youngest child of Kurdish poet Ahmed Hardi. She was born in Suleimanya in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1974, but her family fled to Iran a year later after the Algiers Accord....
Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

b. 1840 d. 1928

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840, the son of a stonemason. He trained and practised as an architect, but, as soon as he could, earned his living by writing the novels which made him famous. Then, after...
Tony Harrison

Tony Harrison

b. 1937

Tony Harrison is Britain's principal film and theatre poet and has famously said "Poetry is all I write, whether for books, or readings, or for the National Theatre, or for the opera house and...
David Harsent

David Harsent

b. 1942

David Harsent (b. 1942) won the 2005 Forward Prize for Legion, which was also shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize and the TS Eliot Award; he has also been the recipient of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial...
F. W. Harvey

F. W. Harvey

b. 1888 d. 1957

Frederick William Harvey is remembered today as a poet and central figure in a circle, including Ivor Gurney and Herbert Howells, which emerged in Gloucester before the First World War. In the inter-...
Siobhan Harvey

Siobhan Harvey

b. 1973

Siobhan Harvey’s collection of poems Lost Relatives (2011) reveals her navigating shifting geographies in order to locate the sensorium of the self. Her compass is a pragmatic feminism that derives...

Lee Harwood

b. 1939 d. 2015

Lee Harwood was one of the leading poets of his generation. Born in Leicester in 1939, he grew up in Chertsey, Surrey. He studied English at Queen Mary College, University of London, and soon became...
Robert Hass

Robert Hass

b. 1941

Robert Hass (b. 1941) is a native of California, specifically San Francisco, and the twin influences of the city's cultural life and the lush landscape around it are both evident in his work. It was...

Oli Hazzard

b. 1986

Oli Hazzard's first book, Between Two Windows, was published by Carcanet in 2012. It won the Michael Murphy Prize for a first collection and an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, and was...
Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

b. 1939 d. 2013

Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013) was the eldest child of nine born to a farming family in County Derry, Northern Ireland. He won a scholarship to St Columb's College, Derry, beginning an academic career...
John Heath-Stubbs

John Heath Stubbs

b. 1918 d. 2006

John Heath-Stubbs (1918 - 2006) recalled how the teacher at his tiny village school read her pupils Our Island Story, sparking in him the lifelong fascination with history that informed his poetic...
John Hegley

John Hegley

b. 1953

The writer and performer John Hegley has been described as the Spike Milligan for our time, and as 'awesomely mundane' by The Independent . The extracts from his work which appear here are taken from...
Felicia Hemans

Felicia Hemans

b. 1793 d. 1835

Felicia Hemans’s ‘Casabianca’ took on such a vibrant life of its own after her death that, somehow, its author became almost irrelevant. In fact, Hemans was an accomplished and prolific poet who...
Kris Hemensley

Kris Hemensley

b. 1946

Kris Hemensley was born in 1946 on the Isle of Wight, in the UK. His father was English, his mother from the illustrious Tawa family of Alexandria. The family lived in Egypt between 1949-52,...
W.E Henley

W. E. Henley

b. 1849 d. 1903

‘Invictus’ has ensured that Henley is a significant Victorian literary figure, but the phenomenal popularity of this one poem has perhaps led to the neglect of his other work. In fact, Henley was an...
Adrian Henri

Adrian Henri

b. 1932 d. 2000

Adrian Henri (1932-2000) was a much-loved figure in the world of performance poetry, fine art and beyond. Born in Birkenhead, Henri grew up in Rhyl, Wales, during the war years and trained as a...
W.N. Herbert

W N Herbert

b. 1961

W. N. Herbert was born in Dundee in 1961 and educated at Brasenose, Oxford, where he published his thesis on Hugh MacDiarmid (To Circumjack MacDiarmid, OUP, 1992). He is currently Professor of Poetry...
George Herbert

George Herbert

b. 1593 d. 1633

George Herbert was born in Montgomery Castle, Shropshire, in 1593 and died at the age of forty. He was descended on his father's side from the earls of Pembroke and on his mother's from a family of...
Selima Hill

Selima Hill

b. 1945

Selima Hill is perhaps best known for her surrealism. Pierre Reverdy has said of surrealism that ‘the more the relationship between the two juxtaposed realities is distant and true [...] the greater...
Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield

b. 1953

Jane Hirshfield (b. 1953, USA) is the author of six books of poetry, several translations and two collections of essays. Her most recent volume After, on being published in both the US and UK, was...
Matthew Hollis

Matthew Hollis

b. 1971

Matthew Hollis (b. 1971) has published two collections of his own poetry, and has contributed to several other poetic careers as an editor at Faber and Faber. He has also co-edited 101 Poems against...
Jeremy Hooker

Jeremy Hooker

b. 1941

Jeremy Hooker (b. 1941) grew up in Warsash near Southampton, and the landscape of this region has remained an important source of inspiration. Many of his poems were written in Wales, where he has...
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

b. 1844 d. 1889

Gerard Hopkins was born in 1844, went to Highgate School and won a scholarship to Balliol College Oxford where he took a double first in Classics. He then entered the Society of Jesus and, feeling...
A. E. Housman

A E Housman

b. 1859 d. 1936

Alfred Edward Housman, the eldest son of a Bromsgrove solicitor, was born in 1859. He attended Bromsgrove School as a dayboy, but soon after he started there his mother fell ill and his father sank...

Anthony Howell

b. 1945

Anthony Howell is a poet, novelist and performance artist, whose first collection of poems, Inside the Castle, was published in 1969. He has since published 17 volumes of poetry (among them...
Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes

b. 1930 d. 1998

Ted Hughes (1930-1998) is a brooding presence in the landscape of 20th Century poetry, not unlike the six hundred feet-high Scout Rock which overshadowed his Yorkshire childhood. Hughes' early...
Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

b. 1902 d. 1967

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was the first black writer in America to earn his living from writing. Born in Joplin, Missouri, he had a migratory childhood following his parents' separation, spending...
Robert Hull

Robert Hull

Robert Hull has worked with poetry in schools for many years, and has published, amongst more than forty titles, five full-length collections of poetry. These include three collections of poetry for...
Sam Hunt

Sam Hunt

b. 1946

Sam Hunt is a rare commodity in New Zealand: a ham actor playing to the gallery and willing to go out on a limb; he's also a highly-effective poet, wise about his craft, while being a national icon....
Mick Imlah

Mick Imlah

b. 1956 d. 2009

Mick Imlah (1956 - 2009) was one of the most brilliant poets of his generation. He published just two collections, Birthmarks in 1988, and twenty years on, the long-awaited The Lost Leader, which won...
Kevin Ireland

Kevin Ireland

b. 1933

Kevin Ireland was born Kevin Jowsey in Auckland and now lives just across the harbour in Devonport. A protégé of Frank Sargeson, he established a local literary presence as co-founder of Mate before...
Anna Jackson

Anna Jackson

b. 1967

Anna Jackson is a New Zealand poet and academic, partner of artist Simon Edmonds and mother of children, Johnny and Elvira. Her poetry was first published in book form in AUP New Poets 1 (AUP, 1999...
Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

b. 1940

‘Reality is where things happen’. So Michael Jackson writes in one of his poems, quoting William James. Reality, for Jackson, means to keep up a courteous but insistent conversation, a quest for...
Clive James

Clive James

b. 1939

Clive James (b. 1939, Sydney) is well known to UK audiences for work throughout the cultural sphere. His career as a poet has continued alongside work that is, perhaps, more high-profile - he is the...
Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie

b. 1962

Kathleen Jamie (b. 1962) spent much of her early poetic career answering the question posed by the disapproving elders in her famous poem 'The Queen of Sheba': "whae do you think y'ur?". Born in...
Alan Jenkins

Alan Jenkins

b. 1955

Alan Jenkins was born in Surrey in 1955 and has lived for most of his life in London.  He studied at the University of Sussex and has worked for the Times Literary Supplement since 1981, first as...
Elizabeth Jennings

Elizabeth Jennings

b. 1926 d. 2001

Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001) was born in Boston, Lincolnshire but moved to Oxford at the age of six where she lived for the rest of her life. She studied at St. Anne's College, Oxford and worked in...
Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson

b. 1709 d. 1784

Samuel Johnson is a towering figure in the history of English literature, to the extent that the second half of the eighteenth century has sometimes been described as ‘the age of Johnson’. He was a...
Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson

b. 1952

Linton Kwesi Johnson was born on 24 August, 1952 in Chapelton, a small town in the rural parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. He came to London in 1963, attended Tulse Hill secondary school, and later...
Andrew Johnston

Andrew Johnston

b. 1963

Andrew Johnston is the son of an English Professor, has had a successful career as a professional journalist including working as an editor for the International Herald Tribune for many years, and...
Brian Johnstone

Brian Johnstone

b. 1950

Brian Johnstone is a Scottish poet, born in Edinburgh in 1950. He lives in Fife with his wife, the artist Jean Johnstone. Working as a primary school teacher for over twenty years, Johnstone began...
Rodney Jones

Rodney Jones

b. 1950

Rodney Jones (b. 1950), born half way through the twentieth century, grew up in rural Alabama in a world little changed from that of a hundred years before. It was a world he describes as "...
Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson

b. 1572 d. 1637

Jonson was a skilful satirist of contemporary society, producing Volpone for the stage in 1606 and The Alchemist in 1610. It is highly likely that Shakespeare would have appeared in a production of...
M. K. Joseph

M. K. Joseph

b. 1914 d. 1981

M. K. (Michael Kennedy) Joseph was among the foremost New Zealand writers of his generation, both as poet and novelist.
Born in Chingford, Essex to Catholic parents, who, after some years in post-...
Anthony Joseph

Anthony Joseph

b. 1966

Anthony Joseph is a Trinidad-born poet, novelist, musician and lecturer. He began writing as a young child, and cites his main influences as calypso, surrealism, jazz, the spiritual Baptist church...
Jenny Joseph

Jenny Joseph

b. 1932

Jenny Joseph (b. 1932) is originally from Birmingham but her first remembered home was in leafy Buckinghamshire. She read English at St Hilda's College Oxford. A variety of occupations has included...
Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh

b. 1905 d. 1967

Patrick Kavanagh (1904-67) is one of Ireland's best-loved poets: when the Irish Times compiled a list of favourite Irish poems in 2000, ten of Kavanagh's were in the top fifty, with only Yeats's name...
PJ Kavanagh

PJ Kavanagh

b. 1931 d. 2015

P J Kavanagh (1931 - 2015) was the author of eight books of poems, an essayist and travel-writer, a novelist, and editor of the poems of Ivor Gurney; he received the Cholmondely Award for Poetry, the...
Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay

b. 1961

Jackie Kay (b. 1961) is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays, whose subtle investigation into the complexities of identity have been informed by her own life. Born in Edinburgh to a...
John Keats

John Keats

b. 1795 d. 1828

Keats was born in London in 1795. His father was killed in a riding accident when Keats was eight; his mother died six years later, probably from tuberculosis. The loss of his parents, especially of...
Jan Kemp

Jan Kemp

b. 1949

Jan Kemp was born in Hamilton, New Zealand, in 1949. She was the sole woman anthologized in The Young New Zealand Poets (1973), and in 1979 co-starred with Alistair Campbell, Hone Tuwhare, and Sam...
Luke Kennard

Luke Kennard

b. 1981

Luke Kennard is the author of numerous works of poetry and short fiction. His first collection of poems, The Solex Brothers, was published in 2005, and won him one of that year's Eric Gregory Awards...
Brendan Kennelly

Brendan Kennelly

b. 1936

Brendan Kennelly (b. 1936) is the prolific author of over twenty books of poetry as well as plays, novels and criticism. Born in Ballylongford in Co. Kerry, Kennelly was Professor of Modern...
Mimi Khalvati

Mimi Khalvati

b. 1944

Mimi Khalvati (b. 1944, Tehran) spent much of her childhood at boarding school on the Isle of Wight, only returning to Iran at seventeen. She has been resident in the UK since the age of twenty-five...
Henry King

Henry King

b. 1592 d. 1669

The son of an influential Bishop of London, Henry King followed in his father’s footsteps to pursue a career in the Church, which culminated in his appointment as Bishop of Chichester, a position he...
Galway Kinnell

Galway Kinnell

b. 1927 d. 2014

Galway Kinnell (1927 - 2014) grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and was educated at Princeton and Rochester University. He joined in the radical political movements of the 1960s, working for the...
Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

b. 1865 d. 1936

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was born in Bombay (present day Mumbai). His father was a teacher in a local school of art. At the age of six he was sent to England to be educated and spent a miserable...
August Kleinzahler

August Kleinzahler

b. 1949

August Kleinzahler has been described as 'an authentically American voice'. A review in the Economist of his fourth collection Red Sauce, Whiskey, and Snow said: "[the poems] twitch and jerk and snap...
Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa

b. 1947

Yusef Komunyakaa was born in 1947 in the quiet mill town of Bogalusa, Louisiana. Son of a carpenter he was raised in a house of few books at the beginning of the civil rights movement. His...
Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser

b. 1939

Ted Kooser (b. 1939) is one of America's most highly regarded poets, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his eleventh collection, Delights and Shadows, and US Poet Laureate from 2004-06. However...
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

b. 1947

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s poetry is notable for its quiet command of the reader’s attention; the small details of everyday life in India are its currency. ‘Ironing Lady’, a series of neat...
Maxine Kumin

Maxine Kumin

b. 1925

Maxine Kumin (b.1925) came to prominence as one of a generation of women poets who extended the boundaries of poetry, addressing areas of female experience which had not previously been written about...
Stanley Kunitz

Stanley Kunitz

b. 1905 d. 2006

Stanley Kunitz [1905-2006] is a towering figure in American poetry, not just by dint of his longevity, but for the fact that he was still producing some of his finest work well into his nineties. His...
Nick Laird

Nick Laird

b. 1975

Combining edgy vernacular and blunt reportage with a delicate lyricism, Nick Laird’s poems delight, surprise and unnerve. Often concerned with the lingering sectarian violence of Northern Ireland’s...
Gary Langford

Gary Langford

b. 1947

Gary Langford (b. 1947, Christchurch) is a New Zealand poet and author with more than twenty books to his name, including eight volumes of poetry. His literary career includes editorships and...
RF Langley

RF Langley

b. 1938 d. 2011

R. F. Langley (1938-2011), was not a prolific poet, but his work was noticed as long ago as 1979 by Jeff Nuttall, in his column in the Guardian, for its "sense of rhythm, sound and ...a concentrated...
Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin

b. 1922 d. 1985

Philip Larkin (1922-1985) is a poet whose very name conjures up a specific persona: the gloomy, death-obsessed and darkly humorous observer of human foibles and failings. The truth, both about the...
James Lasdun

James Lasdun

b. 1958

James Lasdun is  a rare example of a writer whose success has manifested itself across genres. In addition to his four collections of poetry, the latest being Water Sessions (2012), he has published...
Michael Laskey

Michael Laskey

b. 1944

Michael Laskey (b. 1944) is a poet, editor and a tireless champion of contemporary poetry, particularly through the international Aldeburgh Poetry Festival which he co-founded in 1989 and which...
Anthony Lawrence

Anthony Lawrence

b. 1957

Anthony Lawrence was born in 1957 in Tamworth. He left school early, taking up work as a Jackeroo, going on to work as a landscape gardener, fisherman and truck driver. Later he studied primary...
D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence

b. 1885 d. 1930

A miner’s son from Nottingham, Lawrence was a prolific writer of short stories, essays, poems and novels before his death at the age of forty‑four in 1930. He was a rebellious, restless and polemical...
Mary Leapor

Mary Leapor

b. 1722 d. 1746

In spite of needing to earn a living as a kitchen maid and her death from measles at the age of twenty‑four, Mary Leapor left behind a substantial body of work. Her poetry has increasingly come to be...
Li-Young Lee

Li-Young Lee

b. 1957

Li-Young Lee (b. 1957) draws on his Chinese-American heritage in his poems, in particular his early experience of exile and migration. He was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, the son of Chinese parents...
Laurie Lee

Laurie Lee

b. 1914 d. 1997

Laurie Lee (1914-1997) is famous for the life he wrote about so engagingly in three volumes of autobiography, but his first love was always poetry, a passion that left its mark on his precise and...

Melissa Lee-Houghton

b. 1982

Fearless, naked and knowing, Melissa Lee-Houghton’s poems square up to the wildest reaches of our emotional lives. Hers is a poetry of excess, of the beautiful mess and complex depths of life as it...
Geoffrey Lehmann

Geoffrey Lehmann

b. 1940

Geoffrey Lehmann was born in Sydney in 1940, his childhood was spent at McMahon's Point on Sydney Harbour.  Educated at Anglican schools, Lehmann went on to study arts and law, graduating from the...

Laurence Lerner

b. 1925 d. 2016

Witty and warm, expressed in musical but plain language, Laurence Lerner’s poems cast an intelligent and human eye over the lives we variously lead. His first published collections introduce an...
Philip Levine

Philip Levine

b. 1934

The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Philip Levine grew up in industrial Detroit during the Great Depression of the 1930s. In The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography Levine deals with his...
Frances Leviston

Frances Leviston

b. 1982

Frances Leviston was born in Edinburgh in 1982 and grew up in Sheffield. She read English at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2006. Her...
Amy Levy

Amy Levy

b. 1861 d. 1889

Amy Levy was one of seven children born to a wealthy Anglo‑Jewish family. She was in many ways a pioneering woman, becoming the first Jewish woman ever to study at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1879...
Gwyneth Lewis

Gwyneth Lewis

b. 1959

Gwyneth Lewis is one of the most prominent Welsh poets of her generation, and the first writer to take up the Welsh Laureateship. She wrote the bilingual words that front the Wales Millennium Centre...
Christopher Logue

Christopher Logue

b. 1926 d. 2011

Christopher Logue (1926 - 2011) spent over forty years working on his contemporary version of Homer's Iliad. Begun in 1959 the project expanded into five full-length collections, known collectively...

Michael Longley

b. 1939

Michael Longley (b.1939, Belfast) is a central figure in contemporary Irish poetry. A forceful figure within the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, where he founded the literary programme, he is one...
Thomas Love Peacock

Thomas Love Peacock

b. 1785 d. 1866

Thomas Love Peacock is probably best known today for his hilarious Nightmare Abbey, which cheerfully satirizes the interest of contemporary literature in morbid subjects and gothic settings. Some of...

Hannah Lowe

b. 1976

‘Every now and again there arrives at a poetry magazine a poem that clearly announces a new voice… with something to say, and in brilliant command of the means of saying it’, said The Rialto editor...
Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

b. 1874 d. 1925

Amy Lowell was born into an affluent Massachusetts family and educated at home and in private schools in Boston. Her financial resources helped her develop a liberated and unconventional lifestyle....
John Lyons

John Lyons

b. 1933

John Lyons is a painter and poet, born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. When he was nine, his mother died after a short illness and he and his three siblings moved to rural Tobago to live with...
Hugh MacDiarmid

Hugh MacDiarmid

b. 1892 d. 1978

Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978) remains a controversial and influential figure. Born a postman's son in Langholm Dumfriesshire, he trained to be a school teacher in Edinburgh, then worked on local...
Louis MacNeice

Louis MacNeice

b. 1907 d. 1963

Louis MacNeice (1907-1963) was a friend and contemporary of W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender at Oxford and his poetry has often been linked to their own. Whilst sharing certain characteristics with...
Wes Magee

Wes Magee

b. 1939

Wes Magee (b. 1939) was a teacher when he began writing his first poems. A boy in his class complained that there were no dinosaur poems, and Wes set out to write some for him, little realising he...

Sindiwe Magona

b. 1943

A native of the Transkei, she grew up in a township near Cape Town, where she worked as a domestic and completed her secondary education by correspondence. Magona later graduated from the University...
Sarah Maguire

Sarah Maguire

b. 1957

Few other contemporary British poets combine the intensity of Sarah Maguire's lyrical imagination with the breadth of her geopolitical reach. From the first poem ('May Day, 1986') of her first...
Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire

b. 1946

Bill Manhire (b. 1946) was born in Invercargill, New Zealand, and joined the English Department at Victoria University, Wellington, in 1973, where he has held a Personal Chair since 1997. As a 'young...
Jack Mapanje

Jack Mapanje

b. 1944

Jack Mapanje (b. 1944, Malawi), currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, is the author of 4 collections of poetry, the editor of several more, and the...
Lorraine Mariner

Lorraine Mariner

b. 1974

Lorraine Mariner grew up in Upminster and attended Huddersfield University, where she read English, and University College London, where she read Library and Information Studies. She lives in London...
E A Markham

E A Markham

b. 1939 d. 2008

E A Markham (1939-2008) had a career that embraced the range of literary life, and more. Aside from his poetry, for which he was nominated for the T S Eliot Prize in 2002, he wrote novels, essays,...
Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

b. 1564 d. 1593

Marlowe is believed to have written all his poems and translations as a young man studying at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He was born in 1564, the same year as Shakespeare, and was the son of...
Andrew Marvell

Andrew Marvell

b. 1621 d. 1678

Andrew Marvell was born near Kingston Upon Hull in 1621, the son of a priest. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, but left his studies early when his father was drowned in a boating accident on...

James Matthews

b. 1929

James Matthews, poet, writer and publisher, has produced five books of poetry, a collection of short stories, a novel and an anthology of poetry, which he edited. Most of his work was banned under...
Chris McCabe

Chris McCabe

b. 1977

Chris McCabe (b. 1977) is a widely-published poet and Joint Librarian of the Poetry Library in London. His first collection, The Hutton Inquiry, was welcomed by the Guardian as evidence of a poet who...
J D McClatchy

J D McClatchy

b. 1945

J D McClatchy (b. 1945) is one of America's foremost poet-critics. His five collections of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize-shortlisted Hazmat, are widely acclaimed for their formal ingenuity,...
Roger McGough

Roger McGough

b. 1937

Roger McGough (b. 1937) is one of Britain's best-loved poets. Top-selling The Mersey Sound: Penguin Modern Poets 10 with Liverpool poets Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, hits with Mike McCartney and...
Heather McHugh

Heather McHugh

b. 1948

Heather McHugh (b. 1948) was brought up in rural Virginia. She credits her early overwhelming shyness with inspiring, somewhat paradoxically, an intense pleasure in language: her reluctance to speak...
Jamie McKendrick

Jamie McKendrick

b. 1955

Jamie McKendrick was born in Liverpool in 1955, and lives in Oxford, where he teaches part-time and reviews poetry and the visual arts for a number of newspapers and magazines. He is the author of...
Nigel McLoughlin

Nigel McLoughlin

b. 1968

Nigel McLoughlin was born in Enniskillen in 1968. In 2005 he moved to take up post at the University of Gloucestershire where he is now Professor of Creativity & Poetics. He has published five...
Ian McMillan

Ian McMillan

b. 1956

Ian McMillan (b. 1956) is one of the UK's best known contemporary poets. Aside from many books (for adults and children), sometimes including prose and plays, he has also made appearances on...
Mark McWatt

Mark McWatt

b. 1947


Mark McWatt was born in Georgetown, Guyana, and attended schools all over the country, including mission schools in interior districts, as his father was a District officer in the colonial...
Samuel Menashe

Samuel Menashe

b. 1925 d. 2011

Samuel Menashe (1925 - 2011) enlisted in 1943, and was sent to the Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, then to England (Cheshire) for further training. His division fought in France, Belgium (...
George Meredith

George Meredith

b. 1828 d. 1909

George Meredith was a Victorian poet, author and journalist. He published eighteen novels between 1856 and his death in 1909 and, although many had limited commercial and critical success,The Egoist...

WS Merwin

b. 1927

In 2009, WS Merwin won the Pulizer Prize for poetry for the second time, with The Shadow of Sirius. In an interview soon afterward, Merwin recalls his earliest observations about poetry: "The idea of...
Charlotte Mew

Charlotte Mew

b. 1869 d. 1928

Charlotte Mew was surrounded by mental ill health and death from a young age. Three brothers died while she was still a child and two other siblings were committed to mental institutions. She vowed...
Christopher Middleton

Christopher Middleton

b. 1926 d. 2015

Christopher Middleton (1926 - 2015) is best known for his poems, short prose, essays, and translations. He served in the RAF from 1944 to 1948, then attended Merton College, Oxford. After a spell of...
Kei Miller

Kei Miller

b. 1978

"Raise high the roofbeams, here comes a strong new presence in poetry," wrote Lorna Goodison when Kei Miller burst onto the poetry scene with his 2006 debut Kingdom of Empty Bellies. Miller was born...
Spike Milligan

Spike Milligan

b. 1918 d. 2002

Terence Alan Milligan, known as 'Spike' (1918-2002) dedicated his life to making people laugh, through his performances on radio and television, through his poems and memoirs, and often just by being...
John Milton

John Milton

b. 1608 d. 1674

John Milton was born in 1608 in Bread Street, Cheapside, the son of a composer and scrivener. He was educated at St Paul's School and Christ's College, Cambridge and seemed destined for the...
Robert Minhinnick

Robert Minhinnick

b. 1952

Robert Minhinnick (b. 1952) is a writer and environmentalist; his book Watching the Fire Eater, which combined these interests, was named Welsh Book of the Year in 1993. He edits Poetry Wales, and...
Adrian Mitchell

Adrian Mitchell

b. 1932 d. 2008

Adrian Mitchell (1932 - 2008) was a hugely prolific writer, the author of a great number of novels, plays and poems, for adults and, increasingly, for children - he wrote that "more and more of my...
Tony Mitton

Tony Mitton

b. 1951

Tony Mitton is one of the best children’s poets writing today. His first book, Plum appeared in 1998 and he has since published 14 more collections, his work appearing in numerous anthologies. He has...
John Moat

John Moat

b. 1936 d. 2014

John Moat (b. 1936, India) is best known as a co-founder of the Arvon Foundation, and not as the prodigiously gifted poet, novelist and painter, who lived in a romantic fastness near the north Devon...
John Mole

John Mole

b. 1941

In addition to writing poetry for both children and adults, John Mole (b. 1941) is an accomplished jazz clarinettist, and has been known to combine poetry and jazz with other poet-musicians such as...
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

b. 1689 d. 1762

Mary Pierrepont was born in 1689, the first child of the Earl of Kingston. Her mother died in 1694 and Mary was groomed to become hostess and housekeeper for her father, then a Whig MP. Her tasks...
John Montague

John Montague

b. 1929

John Montague (b.1929, New York), the author of many books of poetry, stories, memoirs and essays, has been called "the greatest Irish poet of his generation" by Derek Mahon. Born to Irish parents in...
Hannah More

Hannah More

b. 1745 d. 1833

Hannah More’s poem was written in support of William Wilberforce’s campaign to abolish slavery. A passionate, poetic explanation of the anti-abolitionists’ argument, this extract is part of a 294‑...
J.O. Morgan

J.O. Morgan

b. 1978

J.O. Morgan lives on a small farm in the Scottish Borders, having lived and worked on numerous farms in the past, both in the British Isles and abroad. He is the author of three collections of poetry...
Edwin Morgan

Edwin Morgan

b. 1920 d. 2010

Edwin Morgan (1920 - 2010) was born and educated in Glasgow, where he returned to lecture in English Literature at Glasgow University after a period in the army. He was the author of many books,...
Esther Morgan

Esther Morgan

b. 1970

Esther Morgan was born in 1970 in Kidderminster. After reading English at Newnham College, Cambridge, she worked as a volunteer at the Wordsworth Trust, which is where she started writing poetry....

David Morley

b. 1964

David Morley is an ecologist, poet, editor and teacher. Emerging with Releasing Stone (Arc, 1989), he has since published five collections with Carcanet, the most recent, The Invisible Gift: Selected...
Mervyn Morris

Mervyn Morris

b. 1937

Mervyn Morris (b, 1937) remains one of the most resourceful and technically brilliant of Caribbean poets. After studying at the University College of the West Indies, and winning a Rhodes Scholarship...
Sinéad Morrissey

Sinéad Morrissey

b. 1972

Sinéad Morrissey is the author of five collections of poetry, the last four of which have been shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Award. Her most recent, Parallax, won the coveted prize in 2013. Her ...
Helen Mort

Helen Mort

b. 1985

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield, grew in Derbyshire, and studied Social and Political Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, the shape...
Brian Moses

Brian Moses

b. 1950

Brian Moses (b. 1950) is one of Britain's favourite children's poets, for both his own poetry and the anthologies he has edited, and he has performed in over two thousand schools across the UK and...
Andrew Motion

Andrew Motion

b. 1952

Andrew Motion (b. 1952) read English at Oxford where he won the Newdigate Prize and spent two years studying the work of Edward Thomas, an abiding influence. This was followed by a stint teaching...
Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon

b. 1951

Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland's most outstanding contemporary poets, and one of the most admired English-language poets anywhere in the world. He was born into a Catholic family in 1951 in a...
Les Murray

Les Murray

b. 1938

Les Murray (b. 1938) grew up the only son of poor farmers in a remote valley in New South Wales. It was a hard background but one that instilled in him a love of the landscape and people of rural...
David Musgrave

David Musgrave

b. 1965

David Musgrave (b. 1965) traces his ancestry to English and Irish convicts and free settlers who came to Australia in the early nineteenth century. Among his forebears are an American Sea captain...
Daljit Nagra

Daljit Nagra

b. 1966

Daljit Nagra (b. 1966) was the first poet to win the Forward Prize for both his first collection of poetry, in 2007, and for its title poem, 'Look, We Have Coming to Dover!', three years earlier. An...
Malika Ndlovu

Malika Ndlovu

b. 1971

Malika Ndlovu is a South African poet who has performed her work across the globe. With a background in both theatre and arts management Ndlovu is a prolific creative facilitator, working with...
Howard Nemerov

Howard Nemerov

b. 1920 d. 1991

Howard Nemerov was born into a wealthy and sophisticated New York family in 1920. His sister was the photographer Diane Arbus, and as children their father who was a painter, art connoisseur and...
E. Nesbit

E. Nesbit

b. 1858 d. 1924

Edith Nesbit was a prolific author of over forty books for children, including the enduringly popular The Railway Children.
Her lifestyle, especially for a middle‑class Victorian woman, was highly...
Judith Nicholls

Judith Nicholls

b. 1941

Judith Nicholls (b. 1941) is one of Britain's best-known poets for children, with over 50 books published and more than 500 schools visited since 1985. She has also appeared on radio, TV, and has...
Grace Nichols

Grace Nichols

b. 1950

Grace Nichols is a poet whose work has been central to our understanding of the important cultural Caribbean-British connection for nearly 3 decades. From her first collection, I Is a Long Memoried...
Norman Nicholson

Norman Nicholson

b. 1914 d. 1987

Norman Nicholson (1914-1987) and his poetry are inextricably bound up with the former iron-mining town of Millom, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria. Apart from several years spent in a TB...
Stephanie Norgate

Stephanie Norgate

b. 1957

Stephanie Norgate was born in 1957 and grew up in Selborne, Hampshire. She spent part of her childhood reading the naturalist Gilbert White and playing in his house and garden, which impelled an...
Sean O'Brien

Sean O'Brien

b. 1952

Sean O'Brien (b. 1952) is a central figure in the contemporary poetry world - he has won major prizes for each of his five poetry collections, including the Cholmondeley Award, the Somerset Maugham...

Bernard O'Donoghue

b. 1945

Bernard O'Donoghue's poetry is marked by a gift for poetic portraiture, sketching characters at moments of emotional intensity. From encounters during his childhood in Ireland, to elegiac...
Adam O'Riordan

Adam O'Riordan

b. 1982

In writing at once intense and wistful, Adam O’Riordan deploys precise imagery and memorable music to poignant effect. His poems, concerned with erasure and the revivifying limits of verse’s charms,...
Vincent O'Sullivan

Vincent O'Sullivan

b. 1937

Vincent O'Sullivan (b.1937, Auckland, New Zealand) lectured at Victoria University, Wellington (1963-1966) and Waikato University, Hamilton (1968-1978). In the following years he was the literary...
Alice Oswald

Alice Oswald

b. 1966

In its vivid, hypnotic and often startlingly imaginative qualities, the poetry of Alice Oswald (b. 1966) confirms a unique sensibility at work. From her first collection, The Thing in the Gap-Stone...
Jan Owen

Jan Owen

b. 1940

Jan Owen, born in Adelaide in 1940, traces her lineage back through generations of Welsh seafarers and Cornish miners. She studied arts and librarianship and raised three children before claiming...
Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen

b. 1893 d. 1918

The poems that made Wilfred Owen famous were mostly published after his death in action a week before the end of the First World War. Powerfully influenced by Keats and Shelley, he experimented with...
Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel

b. 1947

Ruth Padel (b. 1947) has won the National Poetry Competition and written six collections of poetry, several shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot or Whitbread Prize; taught Greek at Oxford, sung in an...
Geoff Page

Geoff Page

b. 1940

Geoff Page is a poet, reviewer and advocate for Australian poetry. Born in Grafton on the north coast of New South Wales, into a conservative and politically active family of graziers on the Clarence...
Sandeep Parmar

Sandeep Parmar

b. 1979

Sandeep Parmar was born in Nottingham and raised in Southern California. She received her PhD in English Literature from University College London in 2008, on the unpublished autobiographies of the...
Alistair Paterson

Alistair Paterson

b. 1929

Alistair Paterson (ONZM) is one of New Zealand’s leading poets, editors and literary thinkers. He is the author of nine poetry collections, a novel, plays and numerous critical publications including...
Don Paterson

Don Paterson

b. 1963

Don Paterson (b. 1963) is an accomplished jazz musician as well as a poet which might partially account for the complex harmonies of his work. Born in Dundee, he left school to pursue a career in...
Brian Patten

Brian Patten

b. 1946

Brian Patten (b. 1946) has written many books of poetry for adults and children, as well as prose and drama for stage and radio. He is the youngest of the Liverpool poets who, in the 1960s, along...
Tom Paulin

Tom Paulin

b. 1949

Tom Paulin (b. 1949) is a poet, essayist, editor and lecturer, and a regular panellist on the BBC's Newsnight Review. He won the Somerset Maugham award for his first Faber collection, A State of...

M. R. Peacocke

b. 1930

M. R. Peacocke grew up in South Devon in a musical family. She read English at Oxford, but spent more time on a capella singing and playing the oboe than on literary studies. After years of teaching...
Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters

Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters

b. 1965

Andrew Fusek Peters (b. 1965) and Polly Peters (b. 1965) have written and edited more than 45 books, in many genres including poetry, plays, fiction and graphic novels. As well as visiting hundreds...
Andrew Fusek Peters - Children's Poems

Andrew Fusek Peters Children's Poems

b. 1965

Andrew Fusek Peters (b. 1965), the tallest poet in the UK, has written more than 45 books for children, two of them nominated for the Carnegie Medal. His anthology Sheep Don't Go To School has been...
Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit

b. 1953

Pascale Petit was born in Paris, grew up in Wales and France, and now lives in London, where she tutors poetry in the galleries of Tate Modern and at the Poetry School, which she co-founded. She...
Katherine Philips

Katherine Philips

b. 1632 d. 1664

Katherine Philips started writing soon after her marriage in 1647, aged sixteen, to James Philips. He was a prominent supporter of the Parliamentary cause, whereas Katherine enthusiastically welcomed...
Esther Phillips

Esther Phillips

b. 1950

Born in Barbados, where she still resides, Esther Phillips graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Miami in 1999, winning the Alfred Boas Poetry Prize of the Academy of...

Heather Phillipson

b. 1978

An internationally exhibiting artist as well as a poet, Heather Phillipson received an Eric Gregory Award in 2008 and has since published three books of poetry: a pamphlet with Faber & Faber in...
Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky

b. 1940

Robert Pinsky (b. 1940) is a pre-eminent poet and critic, a dual role that has led to comparisons with figures from the past such as Matthew Arnold and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His beginnings were...
Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter

b. 1930 d. 2008

Harold Pinter (1930 - 2008) is best known for theatrical work, but was a poet before a playwright, and in early 2005, told the BBC that he was leaving plays to focus on poetry and political speeches...
Ruth Pitter

Ruth Pitter

b. 1897 d. 1992

Ruth Pitter (1897-1992) lived a life of quiet dedication to her art not unlike that of her more famous contemporary, Elizabeth Jennings, who wrote the introduction to a Selected edition of Pitter's...
Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath

b. 1932 d. 1963

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) is a poet whose troubled life and powerful work remains a source of controversy. Born in Boston in the USA she was precociously intelligent, publishing her first poem at the...
Velma Pollard

Velma Pollard

b. 1937

Velma Pollard was born in 1937. She grew up in Woodside, a rural Jamaican village, where her mother was a school teacher and her father was a farmer: their interest in the arts was to be one of the...
Clare Pollard

Clare Pollard

b. 1978

As a precocious adolescent with a penchant for raw confessionalism, Clare Pollard (b.1978) appeared on the poetry scene in the late nineties with her energetic, expressive and markedly contemporary...
Jacob Polley

Jacob Polley

b. 1975

Measured, musical and understated, Jacob Polley's poems delve deep into the elemental, the eerie and the unstable. Whether conjuring a crow from the Biblical tale of Cain's murder of Abel, his gloves...
Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope

b. 1688 d. 1744

Pope was born into a Catholic family in 1688, the year of The Glorious Revolution, when Catholics could not live in London - the centre of literary life – or attend university. At the age of twelve...
Katrina Porteous

Katrina Porteous

b. 1960

Katrina Porteous was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, to parents from North East England, and grew up in County Durham, where she attended Durham High School for Girls. She graduated from Trinity Hall,...
Peter Porter

Peter Porter

b. 1929 d. 2010

Peter Porter's (1929-2010) urbane poetry was first published in 1961, since when he published sixteen collections and much journalism, collaborated with visual arts, and was Writer-in-Residence at...
Joan Poulson

Joan Poulson

Joan Poulson grew up in south Lancashire. She works as writer, poet and visiting writer in schools. Her poetry includes Celebration (1995, UNICEF), Pictures in My Mind (Hodder, 1999) and Onetree...
Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound

b. 1885 d. 1972

Ezra Pound (1885-1972) is now recognised as the central figure of Anglo/American modernism, the man who did most to shape the movement which in turn did most to shape the 20th Century cultural...
Adelaide Anne Procter

Adelaide Anne Procter

b. 1825 d. 1864

Adelaide Anne Proctor’s father was a poet, and her mother actively encouraged her daughter’s interest in poetry. She submitted her early work to Charles Dickens’s publication Household Words under...
Sheenagh Pugh

Sheenagh Pugh

b. 1950

Born in Birmingham in 1950, Sheenagh Pugh lived in Wales for many years before moving to Shetland, where she currently resides. She is the author of nine poetry collections (with a tenth forthcoming...
Kathleen Raine

Kathleen Raine

b. 1908 d. 2003

Kathleen Raine (1908-2003) was the author of twelve books of poetry, four of autobiography, and much scholarly work, particularly on Blake and Yeats, which prove her transcendent understanding of the...
Walter Ralegh

Walter Ralegh

b. 1552 d. 1618

As a successful military adventurer and explorer, author and poet, Ralegh was a significant figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. He took expeditions to the New World, searching for El Dorado,...
Gloria Rawlinson

Gloria Rawlinson

b. 1918 d. 1995

Born in Tonga close to the end of the First World War, Gloria Rawlinson was a major New Zealand poet, biographer and editor. After her parents’ divorce, she moved to New Zealand with her mother, and...
Tom Raworth

Tom Raworth

b. 1938

Tom Raworth (b. 1938), in addition to a career that includes being the editor of Outburst magazine, founder of the Goliard Press, and an artist whose shows have been seen in galleries in Europe and...
Sally Read

Sally Read

b. 1971

Winner of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2001, Sally Read is one of a new generation of younger poets shaping the future of British poetry. Her work is notable for its coupling...
Deryn Rees-Jones

Deryn Rees-Jones

b. 1968

Deryn Rees-Jones was named as one of the Next Generation Poets following her spirited debut The Memory Tray, which was also shortlisted for a 1994 Forward Prize. This collection recaptures the dream-...
Richard Reeve

Richard Reeve

b. 1976

Richard Reeve was born in 1976, and grew up in Dunedin. He has a PhD from the University of Otago centering on New Zealand poetry within the context of twentieth century European continental...
Christopher Reid

Christopher Reid

b. 1949

Often associated with the short-lived Martian school of the 1980s, Christopher Reid’s poetry has come a long way since the extra-terrestrial metaphors and puzzling imagery that were the hallmark of...
Alastair Reid

Alastair Reid

b. 1926

Alastair Reid (b. 1926, Whithorn) is one of Scotland's foremost literary figures, admired as a craftsman in poetry, prose and translation. Since he left Scotland during World War II, he has lived...
Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich

b. 1929 d. 2012

Adrienne Rich (1929 - 2012) was one of the USA's foremost poets, and her poetry's intelligent and outspoken political commitment makes her one of the most provocative. She was awarded, among others,...
Edgell Rickword

Edgell Rickword

b. 1898 d. 1982

Edgell Rickword (1898-1982) is best known as the influential editor of journals such as Calendar of Modern Letters and The Left Review and was a key figure in establishing radical criticism in the...
Anne Ridler

Anne Ridler

b. 1912 d. 2001

Anne Ridler (1912-2001) moved in literature throughout her life; she was the daughter of writers, with more in the extended family, and joined Faber and Faber's poetry department while in her early...
Denise Riley

Denise Riley

b. 1948

Denise Riley (b. 1948) is active across the full range of poetic life - poet, essayist, teacher, editor, researcher - and beyond, with her interests extending to politics, history, philosophy,...
Maurice Riordan

Maurice Riordan

b. 1953

Maurice Riordan (born 1953) grew up in Lisgoold, County Cork. He was educated at University College Cork and at McMaster University in Canada. He lives in South London.
He has published four...
Michael Symmons Roberts

Michael Symmons Roberts

b. 1963

Michael Symmons Roberts (b. 1963) is the author of four collections of poetry, and won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry for his most recent book, Corpus.
Roberts is a lyric poet with philosophical and...
Robin Robertson

Robin Robertson

b. 1955

Robin Robertson (b. 1955) is a poet of austere and meticulous diction, tempered by a sensuous music. He was born in Scone, Perthshire, and brought up on the north-east coast of Scotland but has spent...
Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson

b. 1757 d. 1800

Mary Robinson was a gifted musician, champion of the rights of women, novelist, poet and actress. She was born in Bristol to a wealthy family and received a good education, but her marriage to the...
Theodore Roethke

Theodore Roethke

b. 1908 d. 1963

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) was an innovator, both in subject matter and form, writing in the transcendental tradition of Emerson and Thoreau but making it his own. The key to his powerful...
Neil Rollinson

Neil Rollinson

b. 1960

Neil Rollinson’s poetry has been noted for its eroticism, and certainly the earlier collections are dominated by sensual encounters of various kinds. His subject matter also takes in science and...
Stephen Romer

Stephen Romer

b. 1957

Stephen Romer was born in Hertfordshire, and educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Since 1981 he has lived France, first in Paris, and since 1991 in the Loire Valley, where he is Maître de Conferences...
Rachel Rooney

Rachel Rooney

b. 1962

Rachel Rooney was born in London, the fifth of six children, and now lives in Brighton, Sussex. She trained and works as a special needs teacher, along with visiting schools for poetry readings and...
Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen

b. 1946

Michael Rosen (b. 1946) says he became a children's poet by accident - "I thought I was being an ironic adult poet but children's literature 'claimed' me". He has since become a very well-known poet...
Isaac Rosenberg

Isaac Rosenberg

b. 1890 d. 1918

Isaac Rosenburg was born in Bristol in 1890, the son of Russian immigrants; his father was a learned Jew who scraped a living as a pedlar and market trader. In 1897 the family moved to Whitechapel in...
Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti

b. 1830 d. 1894

Many readers first come across Christina Rossetti as the writer of the words of the carol 'In the Bleak Midwinter', or the deceptively simple, but actually strange and powerful, fairy tale in verse,...
Antony Rowland

Antony Rowland

b. 1970

Antony Rowland (b.1970) is Professor of Literary Studies in English at The University of Salford where he teaches literature and creative writing. His poetry has been published extensively in...
Carol Rumens

Carol Rumens

b. 1944

Carol Rumens, née Lumley, was born in Forest Hill, South London. She won a scholarship to grammar school, and later studied Philosophy at London University, but left before completing her degree. She...
Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan

b. 1945

Kay Ryan has been compared to Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore, sharing a delight in the quirks of logic and language. Because she keeps a low profile, she has been called an 'outsider' poet, a...
Lawrence Sail

Lawrence Sail

b. 1942

Lawrence Sail was born in London in 1942 and brought up in Exeter. He read French and German at St John’s College, Oxford, taught for four years in Kenya, then held various teaching posts in England...
Jacob Sam-La Rose

Jacob Sam-La Rose

b. 1976

Jacob Sam-La Rose (born 8th June 1976) is a poet, educator and editor. His enthusiasm for using poetry as a tool for education and interaction has made him a renowned and inspirational figure in the...
Fiona Sampson

Fiona Sampson

b. 1963

Fiona Sampson was born in London, and grew up in the West Country, on the west coast of Wales and in Gloucestershire. Her background in music forms an important part of her poetic voice – leaving...
Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon

b. 1886 d. 1967

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) was born into a wealthy Anglo-Jewish family and his early life was comfortable and leisured, dominated by sports and country pursuits. However, his poetic leanings were...
Carole Satyamurti

Carole Satyamurti

b. 1939

Carole Satyamurti is a poet and sociologist. She grew up in Kent, and has lived in North America, Singapore and Uganda. She published three volumes of poetry with Oxford University Press, of which...
Vernon Scannell

Vernon Scannell

b. 1922 d. 2007

Vernon Scannell (1922 - 2007) published his poetry from the 1950s right up to the last year of his life, but seems to be less well-known than he deserves, despite being the recipient of the Heinemann...

Karin Schimke

b. 1968

Karin Schimke is a widely published journalist and columnist, and the Cape Times books editor. She also works as a writing tutor and mentor, an author of non-fiction – including the best-selling...
Michael Schmidt

Michael Schmidt

b. 1947

Michael Schmidt (b.1947, Mexico City) is a central figure in contemporary poetry. He writes poems and, in addition, he is a founder and the editorial director of Carcanet Press, which started...
Walter Scott

Walter Scott

b. 1771 d. 1832

Born in Edinburgh, and trained as a lawyer, Walter Scott became an internationally popular poet, playwright and novelist. Scott’s influences include classical myths and legends, the German Romantics...
Peter Scupham

Peter Scupham

b. 1933

Peter Scupham (b. 1933) is a poet of formal distinction with a particular fascination for history and its bearing on his native country. This attention to the English experience puts him in company...
Fred Sedgwick

Fred Sedgwick

b. 1945

Fred Sedgwick writes thoughtful, funny poetry for children, taking in as he does so a wide range of subjects and locations. Some of these are familiar, observed close to home: a family are seen ‘...
Olive Senior

Olive Senior

b. 1941

Olive Senior is a singularly original writer with a genius for re-inhabiting and recreating the wonder and cruel theatre of childhood, while also exploring adult pretensions and realities in relation...
Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton

b. 1928 d. 1974

Anne Sexton (1928-1974) is often grouped with such poets as Sylvia Plath, John Berryman and Robert Lowell as a leading figure in the so-called 'Confessional Movement'. Born Anne Gray Harvey in Newton...
William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

b. 1564 d. 1616

Little is known about Shakespeare's life. Existing records give tantalising glimpses: he was born in 1564, the eldest son of an illiterate but locally prominent Stratford glover, married (at eighteen...
Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott

b. 1953

Jo Shapcott (b.1953) is from London but traces her family roots to the former mining communities of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and currently...
Michael Sharkey

Michael Sharkey

b. 1946

Michael Sharkey (b. 1946) grew up in country and suburban New South Wales, the eldest of six children. His parents farmed, then moved to the suburbs. His mother was a painter and his father a science...

James Sheard

James Sheard was born in Cyprus in 1962, and spent his childhood abroad, mainly in Singapore and Germany. As an adult, he spent periods living in Hamburg and Helsinki. He is the author of two full...
Owen Sheers

Owen Sheers

b. 1974

Owen Sheers (b. 1974, Fiji) was chosen as one of the Next Generation Poets and as one of the Independent's top 30 young British writers on the strength of his first book of poetry, The Blue Book. His...
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley

b. 1792 d. 1822

Shelley was born at Field Place, near Horsham, the eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley, MP for the Duke of Norfolk's pocket borough of Shoreham-by-sea. Shelley was educated at Eton, where he was known...
Tanya Shirley

Tanya Shirley

b. 1976

Tanya Shirley is a startlingly bold writer with a particular gift for highlighting the telling detail in her vivid and arresting poems, which variously contain portraits of lovers, colourful...
Penelope Shuttle

Penelope Shuttle

b. 1947

Penelope Shuttle (b. 1947) has made her home in Cornwall since 1970 and the county's mercurial weather and rich history are continuing sources of inspiration. So too is the personal and artistic...
Philip Sidney

Philip Sidney

b. 1554 d. 1586

A poet, soldier and courtier, Philip Sidney was one of the most celebrated figures of the Elizabethan age. He was a member of a distinguished and talented family; his sister, Mary, the Countess of...
Mary Sidney Herbert

Mary Sidney Herbert

b. 1561 d. 1621

Mary Sidney Herbert was an influential and talented poet, translator and patron of the arts in Elizabethan England. She was also the sister of the courtier and poet Philip Sidney. She completed the...
Charles Simic

Charles Simic

b. 1938

Charles Simic (b. 1938) grew up in Belgrade in former Yugoslavia, a childhood in which "Hitler and Stalin taught us the basics". A new life began in 1954 when he and his mother were allowed to join...
Kathryn Simmonds

Kathryn Simmonds

b. 1972

In 2008, Kathryn Simmonds won the Forward Best First Collection Award with Sunday at the Skin Laundrette, which Michael Symmons Roberts lauded as "a remarkable debut." He praised her "expansive...

C. H. Sisson

b. 1914 d. 2003

C. H. Sisson died in 2003 at the age of 89. He was known as a critic, political theorist, poet, novelist, and translator. He was a great friend of the critic and writer Donald Davie, with whom he...
Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell

b. 1887 d. 1964

Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was born into an aristocratic family and, along with her brothers, Osbert and Sacheverell, had a significant impact on the artistic life of the 20s. She encountered the work...
Christopher Smart

Christopher Smart

b. 1722 d. 1771

Christopher Smart was born in 1722 and is best remembered for his religious poems A Song to David and Jubilate Agno, both of which were written during his time at St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics,...
Dorothea Smartt

Dorothea Smartt

b. 1963

Dorothea Smartt is a stunning performance artist and poet. She has taught in the United Kingdom, and Bahrain, South Africa, Barbados and the U.S, after beginning her writing life in the Black/...
Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith

b. 1962

Through direct, colloquial language and often intense imagery, Catherine Smith invites the reader into a world at once familiar and unsettling. Her poems display a gift for teasing significance from...
Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Smith

b. 1749 d. 1806

Charlotte Turner was born in 1749 into the landed gentry. Her father owned two prosperous estates, Stoke Place in Surrey and Bignor Park in Sussex, but gambling losses destroyed his fortune; aged...
Vivian Smith

Vivian Smith

b. 1933

Vivian Smith (b. 1933) was born and grew up in Hobart, Tasmania. He lectured in French at the University of Tasmania for ten years before moving to the University of Sydney where he was Reader in...
Ken Smith

Ken Smith

b. 1938 d. 2003

Ken Smith (1938-2003) was born in Rudston, Yorkshire, the son of a farm labourer whose work meant Ken had an itinerant childhood. He attended Leeds University at a key time when Geoffrey Hill was...
Elizabeth Smither

Elizabeth Smither

b. 1941

Wittiness and cleverness are hallmarks of Elizabeth Smither’s poems. Whether she is writing about colonial Parihaka, a small community in Taranaki, New Zealand (close to where she lives), listening...
Kelwyn Sole

Kelwyn Sole

b. 1951

Kelwyn Sole is a South African poet, born in Johannesburg in 1951. After studying English at the University of Witwatersrand, and taking an MA from the University of London's School of Oriental and...
Robert Southey

Robert Southey

b. 1774 d. 1843

Robert Southey was an independently minded young man who was expelled from Westminster School for opposing flogging. He developed radical religious and political ideas and, at one stage, considered...
Robert Southwell

Robert Southwell

b. 1561 d. 1595

Southwell wrote most of his poems and prose when working as an underground Jesuit priest in Protestant England at a time when an active Catholic priest’s chances of survival were no more than one in...
Stephen Spender

Stephen Spender

b. 1909 d. 1995

Stephen Spender (1909-1995) is most closely associated with the 1930s: much of his best poetry was written during this decade and other important works such as his autobiography, World Within World (...
Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser

b. 1553 d. 1599

Edmund Spenser is often mentioned alongside Shakespeare, Marlowe and Donne as one of the greatest poets of the Elizabethan period.
He is probably best known for his long, allegorical epic poem, The...
Jean Sprackland

Jean Sprackland

b. 1962

Jean Sprackland (b. 1962) is the author of two books of poems and a collection of short stories, and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Whitbread Prize and the...
Pauline Stainer

Pauline Stainer

b. 1941

Pauline Stainer is an English poet, born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. After attending St Anne's College, Oxford, she moved to Essex, where she raised four children. After several years on the Orkney...
Jon Stallworthy

Jon Stallworthy

b. 1935 d. 2014

Jon Stallworthy was educated at Dragon School, Rugby School, and Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Poetry Prize while playing rugby for the University, and is held a post as Emeritus Professor of...
C. K. Stead

C. K. Stead

b. 1932

Christian Karlson Stead (b. Auckland, New Zealand, 1932) Emeritus Professor at Auckland University, is perhaps New Zealand’s most internationally celebrated writer, with a literary life spanning more...
Gerald Stern

Gerald Stern

b. 1925

Son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, Gerald Stern grew up in Pittsburgh, in a house with no books. It wasn't as if being a writer was discouraged, he says, it just wasn't considered something...
Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

b. 1850 d. 1894

Born in Scotland, Stevenson was an unconventional and adventurous novelist, poet, essayist, short‑story and travel writer with a remarkable gift for captivating story‑telling. Some of his prose works...
Anne Stevenson

Anne Stevenson

b. 1933

Anne Stevenson, inaugural winner of the Northern Rock Writers Award in 2002, was born in England of American parents in 1933 and educated in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where her father was professor of...
Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith

b. 1902 d. 1971

Stevie Smith (1902-1971) led an outwardly uneventful life behind the respectable curtains of suburbia whilst nurturing a highly individual imagination. Born in Yorkshire, her father left the family...
Greta Stoddart

Greta Stoddart

b. 1966

Greta Stoddart was born in Henley-on-Thames, and grew up in Oxford and Belgium. She studied drama at Manchester University then trained as an actor in Paris, touring for five years with the theatre...
Mark Strand

Mark Strand

b. 1934 d. 2014

Mark Strand was born in 1934 on Prince Edward Island, Canada and grew up in the United States. He was a shy dreamy child, and claims not to have been very bright at school. When he was a year old,...
Robert Sullivan

Robert Sullivan

b. 1967

Contemporary Maori poetry in English has found its poetically most versatile spokesman in Robert Sullivan whose poems manifest their close affinity to patterns of an oral tradition. Listening to his...
Ross Sutherland

Ross Sutherland

b. 1979


Inventive, irreverent and comic, Ross Sutherland (b. 1979) is a force of nature on the UK spoken word scene. Alongside Luke Wright, he was one of the founding members of Aisle 16, a stand-up...
Matthew Sweeney

Matthew Sweeney

b. 1952

"Matthew Sweeney is a force for good in British poetry," writes Ruth Padel. "The work is one large metaphor: a parable for the human condition...He is one of our finest poets of the unconscious; of...
Matthew Sweeney Children's Poems

Matthew Sweeney Children's Poems

b. 1952

Born in Donegal in Ireland (1952), Matthew Sweeney is one of the most original poets now writing for children. The author of eleven books of poetry for adults, he has written five collections of...
Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift

b. 1667 d. 1745

Born in Ireland in 1667, Swift spent much of his adult life in England. He was actively involved in politics, and in his self-penned epitaph describes himself as a ‘champion of liberty’. He was a...
Todd Swift

Todd Swift

b. 1966

Todd Swift was born in Montreal in 1966 and grew up by the St Lawrence Seaway, a landscape that shaped the development of his imagination. He studied Creative Writing at Concordia University, tutored...
Algernon Swinburne

Algernon Swinburne

b. 1837 d. 1909

Swinburne came from an aristocratic background and drew on a wide range of influences and interests from an early age, including Elizabethan dramatists, Greek and Latin poets and French writers. He...
George Szirtes

George Szirtes

b. 1948

George Szirtes (b. 1948) came to England in 1956 as a refugee from Hungary. He was brought up in London, going on to study fine art in London and Leeds. He wrote poetry alongside his art and his...
Allen Tate

Allen Tate

b. 1899 d. 1979

Youngest of three sons, Allen Tate was born in Kentucky in 1899. His father was a businessman whose interests forced the family to move home up to three times a year, prompting Tate to later write: "...

Kate Tempest

b. 1985

Born in south-east London where she still lives, Kate Tempest made her live debut as a spoken-word artist at sixteen. Having initially conceived of herself as a rapper, Tempest found her work was...
Alfred Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson

b. 1809 d. 1892

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, the third surviving son of a rector whose violent alcoholism blighted the family home. Tennyson went to Cambridge where he met Arthur...
Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas

b. 1878 d. 1917

Edward Thomas wrote all his poetry in less than three years, between 1914, when he wrote his first, and 1917, when he was killed in the Battle of Arras. Most of his poems were published posthumously...
D. M. Thomas

D. M. Thomas

b. 1935

Although he is now renowned as a novelist, biographer and translator as well as a poet, D. M. Thomas wrote and published little else but poetry until he was forty, and has said that poetry has always...
R. S. Thomas

R. S. Thomas

b. 1913 d. 2000

R. S. Thomas (1913-2000) teemed with contradictions: a passionate advocate of Welsh nationalism he wrote in English and sent his son to boarding school in England; an undemonstrative man he composed...
Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

b. 1914 d. 1953

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) remains one of the legendary figures in 20th Century poetry, both for the impact of his visionary, musical verse, and for the notoriety of his private life. Born in Swansea,...
Anthony Thwaite

Anthony Thwaite

b. 1930

Anthony Thwaite (b. 1930) is deeply involved in English literary life; in addition to 15 volumes of his own poetry, he has been a publisher and literary editor of magazines such as The Listener and...
Chidiock Tichborne

Chidiock Tichborne

b. 1562 d. 1586

Chidiock Tichborne was part of the Babington plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. When the Protestant Elizabeth came to the throne, Catholics such as Tichborne had a degree of freedom to practise...
Charles Tomlinson

Charles Tomlinson

b. 1927 d. 2015

Charles Tomlinson, since his first publication in 1951, built a career that saw more notice in the international scene than in his native England; this may explain, and be explained by, his...
Sylvia Townsend Warner

Sylvia Townsend Warner

b. 1893 d. 1978

Sylvia Townsend Warner [1893-1978] is best known today as a groundbreaking feminist and lesbian writer who championed the cause of the outsider in novels such as Lolly Willowes. However, this is only...
Mark Tredinnick

Mark Tredinnick

b. 1962

Mark Tredinnick (b. 1962), though an established Australian writer, is a relatively new poet - The Road South, an audio CD (River Road Press 2008), is his first collection. Tredinnick was raised in...
Frederick Tuckerman

Frederick Tuckerman

b. 1821 d. 1873

Tuckerman’s beloved wife died in childbirth, and a powerful sense of grief and loss permeates many of his poems. He was a poet of the outdoors, spending much time wandering through the woods and...
Brian Turner

Brian Turner

b. 1944

Brian Turner was born in 1944. An outdoorsman, a mountaineer, a national representative hockey player, a keen cricketer, and an avid senior road cyclist he has made a unique career in New Zealand...
Hone Tuwhare

Hone Tuwhare

b. 1922 d. 2008

Hone Tuwhare (1922 — 2008) is New Zealand’s pre-eminent Maori poet; his tribal affiliations are with Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Korokoro, Ngāti Tautahi, Te Popote and Uri-o-Hau. From a working class background...

Jack Underwood

b. 1984

Jack Underwood is an active presence across the British poetry landscape: as one of the first four poets as part of the Faber New Poets pamphlets scheme in 2009, as Lecturer in English and Creative...
Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine

b. 1934

Jean Valentine was born in 1934 in Chicago, Illinois and has lived most of her life in New York City. In 1964, her first collection Dream Barker was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. Her...

Henry Vaughan

b. 1621 d. 1625

Henry Vaughan was born in 1621 in the Welsh country parish of Llansantffread between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, where he lived for nearly the whole of his life. His younger twin...
David Wagoner

David Wagoner

b. 1926

David Wagoner is widely regarded as the leading poet of the Pacific Northwest. He was born in Ohio and grew up in Indiana, where his mother, a trained opera singer, sang German lieder around the...
Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott

b. 1930

Derek Walcott (b. 1930) was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature in 1992, two years after the publication of his most ambitious and celebrated work to date, Omeros, an epic poem which draws on the...
Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Chris Wallace-Crabbe

b. 1934

Chris Wallace-Crabbe was born in 1934. His father was a journalist and his mother a pianist, and he describes his family tradition as 'military-bohemian Scots'. After leaving school he worked as...

Ahren Warner

b. 1986

Ahren Warner grew up in Lincolnshire before moving to London, then Paris. He is the author of two collections of poetry, Confer (Bloodaxe, 2011), which was both a Poetry Book Society Recommendation...
John Watson

John Watson

b. 1939

John Watson was born in 1939 in the Bland district in NSW. He went on to study mathematics at the University of Sydney and worked as a high-school maths teacher for thirty years until taking early...

Jane Weir

b. 1963

Jane Weir is an Anglo-Italian writer and designer. She has published two poetry collections with Templar – a third, Anna Magnani, Eat with Me, is published in 2016 – and two pamphlets, Alice (2006)...

David Wheatley

b. 1970

Flitting between book smarts and wry humour, lyric eloquence and occasionally acerbic bluntness, the poetry of David Wheatley shares much in common with the prose he writes as a respected critic, and...
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

b. 1819 d. 1892

At various times, Walt Whitman was a teacher, a journalist, a government official and a clerk. He also spent a significant period in his life working in the hospitals of the American Civil War, and...
John Whitworth

John Whitworth

b. 1945

John Whitworth is an English poet born in India who now lives in Canterbury with his wife and two cats, his grown-up daughters still conveniently nearby.  He began writing as an undergraduate at...
Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur

b. 1921

Richard Wilbur (b. 1921, New York) is perhaps best known as the second person to hold the position of US Poet Laureate (1987-88), and is also the recipient of laurels including the Pulitzer Prize,...
Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

b. 1854 d. 1900

Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexuality in 1895 ended a spectacularly successful career. Although he lived for a few more years in exile in France after his release and produced some moving poetry,...
William Carlos Williams

William Carlos Williams

b. 1883 d. 1963

William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) famously combined the two careers of doctor and writer, along the way founding a specifically American version of Modernism. He was born in Rutherford, New Jersey...
C K Williams

C. K. Williams

b. 1939 d. 2015

C. K. Williams (b. 1939) was particularly well-known for his formal innovations, the long-lined poems of clause-rich syntax which became his trademark. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Williams described...
Hugo Williams

Hugo Williams

b. 1942

Hugo Williams (b. 1942) is the son of the actor Hugh Williams and the model and actress Margaret Vyner-Williams. His glamorous yet financially precarious family life provides much of the inspiration...
John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

b. 1647 d. 1680

John Wilmot was born in 1647, the son of Henry Wilmot, a celebrated Royalist who had led the cavalry at the Battle of Edgehill. Henry helped the young Prince Charles escape to France after the...
Yvor Winters

Yvor Winters

b. 1900 d. 1968

Yvor Winters (b. 1900) was notorious in his lifetime for his recalcitrant literary criticism which rejected modernism in favour of reason in poetry. His own poetry, after a youthful dalliance with...
Charles Wolfe

Charles Wolfe

b. 1791 d. 1823

Charles Wolfe was an Irish priest and poet who is best remembered for this extremely popular elegy, which has appeared in many anthologies of poetry throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries...
Briar Wood

Briar Wood

b. 1958

Aotearoa New Zealand writer, poet and academic Briar Wood is of Te Hikutu ki Hokianga Ngapuhi Nui, Scottish, Cornish, English and Portuguese descent. Her poetry has been published in a number of...
William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

b. 1770 d. 1850

Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth, Cumbria, in 1770, the son of an attorney. Both parents were dead by the time he was thirteen, a loss recorded in the early part of 'The Prelude' where he describes...

Luke Wright

b. 1982

Luke Wright (b. 1982) was spurred into poetry when he first saw John Cooper Clarke perform at the Colchester Arts Centre in 1998, which, he said, ‘changed everything’. Since then Wright has become...
Charles Wright

Charles Wright

b. 1935

Charles Wright [b. 1935] is a poet whose work "catches the visible world at that endless moment before it trails into eternity" [Philip Levine]. This search for transcendence has sustained his long...
Kit Wright

Kit Wright

b. 1944

Kit Wright (b. 1944) is the author of more than twenty-five books, for both adults and children, and the winner of awards including an Arts Council Writers' Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize,...
Kit Wright - Children's Poems

Kit Wright - Children's Poems

b. 1944

Kit Wright (b. 1944) is the author of more than twenty-five books, for both adults and children, and the winner of awards including an Arts Council Writers' Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize,...
Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt

b. 1503 d. 1542

Thomas Wyatt was born in 1504. His father was a Lancastrian, imprisoned and tortured near the end of the Wars of the Roses in the reign of Richard III, then promoted to high office by Henry VII....
Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

b. 1966

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, born at Hillbrow in Johannesburg, is an award-winning South African writer and performance artist. The daughter of an Australian mother and a Ghanaian father, she was given...
William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

b. 1865 d. 1939

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) stands at the turning point between the Victorian period and Modernism, the conflicting currents of which affected his poetry. Born in Dublin, Yeats' family moved to...
Jane Yeh

Jane Yeh

b. 1971

Jane Yeh is an American poet who has lived in England for over a decade. Born in New Jersey, she was educated at Harvard University, the University of Iowa—where she took an MFA at the prestigious...
Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah

b. 1958

Benjamin Zephaniah was born in Birmingham, and grew up in Jamaica and in Handsworth, where he was sent to an approved school. He left school at 13 unable to read or write, ending up in prison for...
Fay Zwicky

Fay Zwicky

b. 1933

Fay Zwicky was born in Melbourne in 1933. Her father was a doctor, her mother a musician. From early in life she trained as a pianist, performing with her violinist and cellist sisters while still at...

Starting points

Not sure where to start? Who to listen to? What to read? The links below will help to get you on your way.

TAKE A TOUR
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FIND POEMS


A tour of the Archive with Catherine Olver

I think it's defensible to say that there's something about any poem worth the title that asks to be read aloud....

Featured Guided Tours


Enjoy new recordings of classic poems from the past read by contemporary poets

Fears in Solitude

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

read by Kit Wright

Behold love

Thomas Wyatt

read by Alice Oswald