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13 November 2014

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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > Entertainment > Books > Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy grew up in Stafford and is a highly acclaimed poet, playwright and writer, and now the Poet Laureate too! Helen Thomas looks at her career so far and we discuss the influence of Stafford on her work and life...

Nation's Favourite Poet Competition

Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's first female Poet Laureate - who spent her childhood in Stafford, has been short-listed in the Nation’s Favourite Poet Competition. This is a rare chance for a local writer to receive national recognition and your vote will really help to make all the difference.

She is facing tough competition from famous poets including William Wordsworth and TS Eliot. You have until midday on Tuesday 1st September to cast your all important vote and the winner will be announced on Thursday 8th October.


Carol Ann is one of Britain's top living poets, and her work even features on the GCSE English syllabus. Her poetry is seen as very accessible; it's been described as poetry for people who don't like poems, and she's written not only for adults, but for children too.

On the 1st May 2009, she became the first woman to be appointed Poet Laureate in the 341-year history of the post. The author is also the first Scot to be named Laureate.

"I'm not interested, as a poet, in words like 'plash' - Seamus Heaney words, interesting words. I like to use simple words but in a complicated way"

Carol Ann Duffy

To see the BBC News story of her appointment, see the link in the top right hand corner of this page.

The poetry is often very witty, yet can contain strong, sometimes feminist messages. Her most famous poem is probably Warming her Pearls, which is about a young maid who harbours a secret desire for her mistress.
Her best-known collection is 'The World's Wife'.

Raised in Staffordshire

Carol Ann was born in Glasgow, but moved to Stafford with her family in 1960 when she was five. Her father was a local councillor and manager of Stafford Football Club.

Key Works

Standing Female Nude (1985)
Selling Manhattan (1987)
The Other Country (1990)
Mean Time (1993)
The World's Wife (1999)
The Feminine Gospels (2002)
Rapture (2005)

She describes her upbringing in Stafford as "left-wing, Catholic & working-class". Her father even stood as a candidate in parliamentary elections for the Labour Party.
Does this partly explain her fascination with ordinary people in ordinary circumstances - who yet display what we might think of as extraordinary reactions?

She's written lots about life in Staffordshire, including the famous poem 'The Laughter of Stafford Girls' High'.  In fact, her poems often feature the effect of teachers. It was one of her teachers at Stafford High who first typed up Carol Ann's poems for her.

Awards and honours

She has since gone on to release numerous award winning works including Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of the Scottish Arts Council award, and Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Poetry prize, while also being recognised by the Society of Authors in 1992 with the prestigious Cholmondeley Award.

She was nominated for Poet Laureate in 1999, but lost out to Andrew Motion. Critics claimed at the time that the government was unwilling to give her the title because she was a woman, and a lesbian.

Carol Ann Duffy was awarded an OBE in 1995, a CBE in 2002, an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by Keele University and an Honorary Doctorate from Staffordshire University in 2008.

On hearing of her Staffordshire University award, Carol Ann said: "I'm so happy to receive this honour from my childhood home town and delighted to accept it in memory of my late mother, May Duffy, who would have been so proud."

last updated: 04/01/2010 at 08:27
created: 04/04/2006

Have Your Say


Imran Aslam
Hello ma,am i have no words to write, i feel your poetry words like a moon pearls.GOD BLESS U.Imran

Alexa Darlin
it seems to be involved with women hating men, sometimes i think she is obssesed with women hating men, and i love men so i don't like her poetry.

maria harris
Warm. I know that she uses the word in her poetry, but it is also the best word to describe it. And 'Words, Wide Night' - the greatest short love poem ever?... it compares with The Sonnets - honestly!

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