Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!

English Literature

Carol Ann Duffy: Medusa


Carol Ann Duffy is the first female Poet Laureate (2009), and probably the best known female poet working in Britain today. She was born in 1955 in Glasgow. Duffy is well known for poems that give a voice to the dispossessed (people excluded from society); she encourages the reader to put themselves in the shoes of people they might normally dismiss.

She has published many collections of poetry, including The World’s Wife (1999), from which Medusa comes. The collection represents women from history, literature and fairytale, particularly those whose stories tend to be defined by men, or who have only a cameo appearance in a male-dominated scenario.

Her poetry often engages with the grittier and more disturbing side of life, using black humour like a weapon to make social and political points. Her place on the GCSE syllabus caused controversy in 2008, when a complaint was made about the poem Education for Leisure; she responded with typical wit and intelligence with the poem Mrs Schofield's GCSE.

Back to Poetry: Character and voice index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.