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P. J. Kavanagh was a poet, writer, actor, broadcaster and columnist. Born in 1931, son of the radio comedy writer Ted Kavanagh, he went to a Benedictine school, served in the Korean war during national service, and worked for the British Council in Barcelona and Indonesia. He acted on stage and TV - his last appearance in an episode of Father Ted. The Perfect Stranger, awarded the Richard Hillary Memorial Prize in 1966, describes his early life. His columns for The Spectator and the Times Literary Supplement (he called them substitute poems) are collected in People and Places (1988) and A Kind of Journal (2003). Poetry remained his major occupation. His New Selected Poems came out in 2014. Earlier collections include Presences (1987), An Enchantment (1991) and Something About (2004). His Collected Poems was given the Cholmondeley Award in 1992. His novel A Song and Dance won the 1968 Guardian Fiction Prize. His other novels are A Happy Man, People and Weather and Only by Mistake, and for younger readers Scarf Jack and Rebel for Good. A travel-autobiography Finding Connections traces his Irish forebears in New Zealand. He edited G. K. Chesterton and Ivor Gurney, and the anthologies Voices in Ireland, The Oxford Book of Short Poems (with James Michie) and A Book of Consolations. P. J. died in August 2015 in the Cotswold hills, where he had come to live with his wife and two sons over forty years before.
Funny, unique and powerful. A wise, sad, wonderfully written memoir that's ripe for rediscovery. -- David Nicholls A fine memorial to love and youth. -- Michael Frayn, author of Headlong and Spies I've re-read The Perfect Stranger many times and still think it, though unique, a model "of its kind". -- Derek Mahon To hear the truth so devastatingly and yet so joyfully encountered is rare in an age where autobiography has been flattened by the massed weight of political and public reminiscence. This autobiography, from its beginning to its bitter end, is a celebration of joy: joy in youth, in woman, in male camaraderie, in the struggle of art, in married love. -- The Times Literary Supplement