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English Literature

UA Fanthorpe: Casehistory: Alison (head injury)

Context

Ursula Askham Fanthorpe (1929-2009) was a very successful student and gained a first class honours degree in English Language and Literature at Oxford University. She then became a teacher, working for 16 years at Cheltenham Ladies' College.

Fanthorpe left teaching and tried a job as a clerk at a Bristol hospital. The hospital used to specialise in problems with the brain, spine and nervous system. It was around this time, in 1974, that Fanthorpe began writing poetry seriously. She was responsible for keeping patients' records and used some of the material from these as inspiration for her poems. Fanthorpe became very interested in how hospitals could reduce people and their experiences to a few notes, known by doctors as 'case histories'.

Although she started to write for publication quite late (her first volume Side Effects was published in 1978), Fanthorpe produced several more volumes up to her death at the age of 79.

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