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Wendy Cope, poet

Poet Wendy Cope tells Lauren Laverne about the eight tracks, book and luxury item she would take with her to a desert island.

Wendy Cope is one of England’s most popular and widely-read contemporary poets.

Wendy was born in Erith, Kent. Her father was 29 years older than her mother and she was sent to boarding school at the age of seven. Although English was her favourite subject at school, in a bid to defy her English teacher’s expectations, she read history at Oxford. Following graduation she became a primary school teacher.

After the death of her father in 1971, Wendy entered psychoanalysis in 1973 and turned to writing poetry. Having attended evening classes in creative writing, one of her poems was published in a collection which brought her to the attention of Faber and Faber. Her first volume of poetry, Making Cocoa For Kingsley Amis, was published in 1986, and became an instant success, and she gave up teaching to become a full time writer.

She has since published four volumes of a poetry: Serious Concerns (1992), If I Don’t Know (2001), Family Values (2011) and Anecdotal Evidence (2018) as well as two volumes for children, Twiddling Your Thumbs (1988) and The River Girl (1991). In 2011, Wendy sold her entire personal archive to the British Library, which consisted of 15 boxes of manuscript, including several unpublished early works.

Wendy lives in Ely and is married to fellow poet, Lachlan Mackinnon.

BOOK CHOICE: Compleet Molesworth by Geoffrey Willans
LUXURY ITEM: Pen and paper
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D minor

Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Cathy Drysdale

Available now

40 minutes

Music Played

  • Thomas Tallis

    Glory to thee, my God this night

    Orchestra: The Cambridge Singers. Conductor: John Rutter.
    • Sing, Ye Heavens.
    • Collegium Records.
    • 18.
  • Gilbert & Sullivan

    Tit Willow

    Performer: John Reed.
    • The Very Best of Gilbert & Sullivan.
    • Decca.
    • 3.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Duet from The Magic Flute ('Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen')

    Singer: Kiri Te Kanawa. Singer: Olaf Bär. Choir: Ambrosian Singers. Orchestra: Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Conductor: Neville Marriner.
  • Robin Hall, Jimmie MacGregor & The Galliards

    Coulters Candy

    • Scottish Choice.
    • Violet Hill Records.
    • 13.
  • The Beatles


    • The White Album.
    • Apple.
    • 11.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Concerto for Two Violins and Strings in D minor, BWV1043 (2nd movement)

    Performer: Takako Nishizaki. Performer: Alexander Jablokov. Orchestra: Capella Istropolitana. Conductor: Oliver von Dohnányi.
    • Bach: Double Concerto in D minor.
    • Naxos.
    • 8.
  • Oh Wonder

    All We Do

  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645

    Performer: Yo‐Yo Ma. Performer: Chris Thile. Singer: Edgar Meyer.


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