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John Betjeman Collected Poems


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This is the definitive John Betjeman collection reissued for the centenary of his birth, and includes his verse autobiography Summoned by Bells in its entirity

About the Author

John Betjeman was born in London on 28 August 1906. He was educated at Marlborough and Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1931 his first book of poems, 'Mount Zion', was published by an old Oxford friend, Edward James. His second book was 'Ghastly Good Taste', a commentary on architecture, published in 1934. He was knighted in 1969 and was appointed Poet Laureate in 1972. John Betjeman died on 19 May 1984 at his home in Trebetherick, Cornwall, and was buried at the nearby church of St Enodoc.


A neat comic sense, an unfeigned comfort with 19th-century manners and forms, and a good eye for English milieus made Betjeman (1906-1984) both a great craftsman of light verse and the most popular British poet of his day. His first U.K. Collected Poems, in 1958, sold millions of copies. Newly available in the United States alongside A.N. Wilson's new biography, this big book can show Americans what so many Britons cherish: ballads and love poems devoted to strapping, tennis-playing young women; a fondness for Cornwall's seaside; devotion to traditional England, along with an amused contempt for the middle-class ways that might destroy it (the ways in which he, and his readers, actually live). Betjeman and his sympathetic characters, from King Edward VIII to a "husband down at the depot with car in car-park," hike along "stony lanes and back at six to tea," celebrate Christmas, admire South London's churches and denounce the "Inexpensive Progress" which plans to "Leave no village standing./ Which could provide a landing/ For aeroplanes to roar." Though Philip Larkin called Betjeman (poet laureate from 1972 on) his favorite contemporary poet, "Betj" provides nothing like Larkin's memorable depths; his enviable skill, however, might entice Anglophiles, or devotees of light verse, to queue up. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

'A true poet who extends experience' -- Margaret Lane 'John Betjeman has succeeded ... in narrowing the gulf between poetry and the public ... he has established a personal regency over all contemporary taste' -- The Times 'It would be difficult - in my opinion impossible - to point to a contemporary poet of greater originality or more genuine depth of feeling' -- Anthony Powell

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