Image by Caroline Forbes

Anthony Thwaite

b. 1930

Very intelligent, also witty, with a wide stretch of subject-matter and a great boldness - Anthony Burgess

Simple Poem

Anthony Thwaite

Together, Apart

Anthony Thwaite

Monologue in the Valley of the Kings

Anthony Thwaite

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About Anthony Thwaite

Anthony Thwaite (b. 1930) is deeply involved in English literary life; in addition to 15 volumes of his own poetry, he has been a publisher and literary editor of magazines such as The Listener and the New Statesman, and is an executor of the estate of Philip Larkin. He has an honorary D.Litt from the University of Hull, and was made an OBE in 1990. His is also an international outlook; he has lectured at universities worldwide, including Japan and Libya (where he spent his military service), and he is the co-editor of The Penguin Book of Japanese Verse. He lives in Norfolk.

This history of travel makes itself known in the poems; the impromptu test of his Japanese and great evocation of jet-lag in 'Cockroach Story' is an example of this, as is the fascination in the graffitied Libyan potsherd in 'Sigma'. As would be expected from someone who describes himself as an "archaeologist manqué", Thwaite is often drawn to a striking object or fragment - the terracotta head in 'The Return', for example - from which an epiphany seems to spill out naturally. His archaeological exhibition, 'A Poet's Pots', was shown in Norwich in 1998.

The attention to objects does not mean there is any lack of people in his poetry - Louis MacNeice and Philip Larkin have cameo parts, and various family members appear, such as the memory of his father (in 'My Father's Poems'), or his daughter drifting out of the rock concert in 'Called For'. Poetry itself is another theme, as some of the poems on this recording worry away at the idea of themselves, such as 'Simple Poem', or 'Tune'.

Thwaite reads in a voice that is clear, poised and firm, with poetic effects audible but not exaggerated (although he is perfectly happy to do the accents when the poems demand) and introduces many of the poems to explain inspirations and contexts. He even admits which is his favourite poem from his own body of work, a sign of the welcoming nature of this showcase of poems that the poet Vernon Scannell has described as "unflashy, honest, scrupulously chiselled work".

His recording was made on 12 March 2003 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Selected bibliography

John Skelton, Faber and Faber 2008


Ruins of Time, Eland publishing 2006

Collected Poems, Enitharmon 2007


The English Poets: From Chaucer to Edward Thomas (...

Beyond the Inhabited World: Roman Britain (prose), André...

Twentieth-Century English Poetry, Heinemann Educational...

Odyssey: Mirror of the Mediterranean, (with Roloff Beny...

Penguin Book of Japanese Verse, (co-editor with Geoffrey...


Telling Tales, Gruffyground Press 1983 (limited edition)

Poetry Today 1960-1984, Longman 1985

Home Truths, Marvell Press 1957 - out of print

The Owl in the Tree, Oxford University Press 1963 - out...

The Stones of Emptiness: Poems 1963-66, Oxford...

Penguin Modern Poets 18, (Al Alvarez, Roy Fuller,...

Inscriptions, Oxford University Press 1973 - out of print

New Confessions, Oxford University Press 1974 - out of...

A Portion for Foxes, Oxford University Press 1977 - out...

Victorian Voices, Oxford University Press 1980 - out of...

Poems 1953-1983, Secker & Warburg 1984

Letter from Tokyo, Hutchinson 1987


Collected Poems of Philip Larkin (editor), Faber and...


Poems 1953-1988, Hutchinson 1989

Selected Letters of Philip Larkin (editor), Faber and...

The Dust of the World, Sinclair-Stevenson 1994


Poetry Today: A Critical Guide to British Poetry 1960-...


Selected Poems 1956-1996, Enitharmon Press 1997


Anthony Thwaite in Conversation with Peter Dale and Ian...

Paeans for Peter Porter (editor), Bridgewater Press 1999

A Different Country: New Poems (limited edition),...

A Move in the Weather, Enitharmon Press 2003


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