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Born in New Zealand in 1934, Fleur Adcock spent the war years in England, returning with her family to New Zealand in 1947. She emigrated to Britain in 1963, working as a librarian in London until 1979. In 1977-78 she was writer-in-residence at Charlotte Mason College of Education, Ambleside. She was Northern Arts Literary Fellow in 1979-81, living in Newcastle, becoming a freelance writer after her return to London. She received an OBE in 1996, and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2006 for Poems 1960-2000 (Bloodaxe, 2000). Fleur Adcock published three pamphlets with Bloodaxe: Below Loughrigg (1979), Hotspur (1986) and Meeting the Comet (1988), as well as her translations of medieval Latin lyrics, The Virgin & the Nightingale (1983). All her collections were then published by Oxford University Press until they shut down their poetry list in 1999, after which Bloodaxe published her collected poems Poems 1960-2000 (2000) followed by ten years later by Dragon Talk (2010).
'It's a shock to realise that this is Adcock's first new collection for a decade; the pin-sharp voice of poems such as "Against Coupling", "Advice to a Discarded Lover" and "For a Five Year Old" is so essential and recognisable that it's difficult to know how we've done without it for 10 years. Inspired by the letters her father wrote from England, where he was stationed, to his parents in New Zealand during the second world war, this collection returns Adcock to familiar territory: the family, and her own complex feelings towards her native country' - Sarah Crown, Guardian