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Wendy Cope on John Clare

Episode 5 of 9

Poet Wendy Cope tells Matthew Parris why she is passionate about the life and work of John Clare, 1793-1864. The expert witness is Sir Jonathan Bate, Clare's biographer.

"John Clare, I cried last night for you" wrote Wendy Cope in a poem dedicated to the earlier poet, who overcame monumental setbacks - including a poverty-stricken upbringing and a long struggle with mental illness - to write some of the most sensitive poetry in the English language. At one point he was famous as "the English Robert Burns" but his fame dropped away vertiginously and many people now know him solely for his cri de coeur, "I Am." Clare's biographer, Sir Jonathan Bate, joins Wendy in the studio with Matthew Parris to consider how Clare's life is both inspirational and great.

Producer Christine Hall.

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26 minutes

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Role Contributor
Presenter Matthew Parris

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