U A Fanthorpe

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Sue Lawley's castaway this week is one of Britain's best loved poets - U A Fanthorpe.
She was the first woman ever to be nominated for the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry and in 2003 was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. But she found her vocation late in life. She trained as a teacher and was head of the English department at Cheltenham Ladies College when she says she felt her life was in crisis and became a 'middle aged drop-out'. Against the advice of her family and to the surprise of many friends, she quit teaching to become a temporary clerical worker. She took a job as a clerk in a hospital for neuro-psychiatric patients and, within days, knew that she had to write about what she saw - to bear witness to what the patients were experiencing. Her first collection of poems, Side Effects, was published in 1978 when U A Fanthorpe was 49.

Since then she has written many more volumes. Her poems use a great deal of humour and a lot of dialogue. In addition to her work about patients and hospitals, much of her writing is concerned with war and its effects on children on the nature of Englishness and the British character.

During the interview, U A Fanthorpe reads extracts from the following poems: 'The List' taken from Selected Poems, and 'Atlas' from Safe As Houses.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Come Away With Fellow Sailors by Henry Purcell
Book: A book to identify birdlife on the island
Luxury: Bath with soap and towels

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45 minutes

Last on

Sun 13 Feb 2005 11:15


Role Contributor
PresenterSue Lawley
Interviewed GuestU A Fanthorpe

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