Poetry context

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  • Created on: 19-04-19 08:18

Love's Philosophy

·        Shelley was born in 1792. His father was a politician and his childhood home was in the Sussex countryside. As a child, he enjoyed playing in the meadows and this inspired his lifelong love of nature. He was educated at Eton and while he was there he read about the ideas of a philosopher called William Godwin. After reading Godwin's ideas he became an atheist. In 1810, he went to Oxford University but was expelled in 1811 with another student for writing a pamphlet on atheism and distributing it, he also refused to renounce the pamphlet. He was also interested in the ideas of Pantheism (the view that the world is either identical to God, or an expression of God’s nature). Although he met many people he was romantically interested in at Eton, when he was 19 he eloped with a 16-year-old girl, Harriet Westbrook. They later had children but Shelley wasn't faithful in the marriage. Later he met famous philosopher William Godwin and fell in love with his daughter, Mary. He divorced Harriet and married Mary. Mary was also a poet and they got along well. In 1816, they went to Switzerland where they met Lord Byron. Unfortunately, Shelley drowned in 1822. There are theories whether he drowned himself or it was an accident. Nature features in many of his poems.

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Singh Song

Daljit Nagra is the son of first generation immigrants and was born here in 1966. His first poetry collection was published in 2007. His poems usually challenge stereotypes about immigrants. He challenges prejudice by facing it head on. He explores a unique type of love in Singh Song.

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Eden Rock

·        Charles Causley was born in 1917 and was a famous and well-respected poet. His father died in the war when Charles was 7. He realised war could have a devastating impact on people. His mother worked hard to make ends meet, but in her free time, she enjoyed reading books from the library. Charles read these books afterwards. He was generally a smart child and got a scholarship to Launceston college. But he had to leave school at 15 to work for the family. While at work, he continued to read widely and even wrote a play. He joined the Navy in 1940 to help with the war effort. One of his main jobs was deciphering code, but he also contributed to active combat. He saw comrades killed in the war and felt lucky to be alive by the end. He recorded all his thoughts in the navy in notebooks. After the war, he trained as a teacher and also wrote poems. He also recorded audiobooks and poetry collections. He died in 2003.

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Walking Away

·       Cecil Day-Lewis was born in 1904. His mother died when he was 4 and he was educated at Sherbourne School in Dorset. He later met Mary King and they married and had two children. When he was at college he met another famous romantic poet, W H Auden. He became a teacher and his poetry became more personal and less about politics. He also wrote detective novels under the name of Nicholas Blake. He had an affair with Rosamond Lehmann and divorced Mary. Later he fell in love with Jill Balcon and their son is Daniel Day-Lewis. He became Professor of Poetry at Oxford University in 1951 and the Poet Laureate in 1968. He died in 1972.


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Mother any Distance

·   Simon Armitage was born in 1963  in West Yorkshire. He loved walking across the moors as a child and this inspired his interest in nature. He attended Colne Valley High School but he wasn't a good student. He was inspired by the poet Ted Hughes and went on to study at Portsmouth Polytechnic. He continued his studies at Manchester University. He then went on to work in the probation service, which gave him ideas for characters in his poetry. After, he returned to Yorkshire and continued writing poetry. His poetryy collection was shortlisted for the 1989 Whitbread prize and was the Millenium poet in 1999. He now works as a poetry lecturer at various universities and took part in the 2010-2012 Stanza Stone project.   

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When we Two Parted

•Father ran away •Mother had mood swings •Spent a lot of time with his nurse •Nurse was cruel and abusive •Landed nobleman at 10 •Fell in love with a distant cousin as a boy •Went to Harrow •Very popular •Byron discovered bisexuality at harrow •Cambridge University in 1805 •Didn’t take studies seriously  •Bit of a fuckboy •House of Lords in 1809 •A lot is autobiographical •Bit of a *******  •Lots of scandal •Married Anabella milbank 1815 •She left in 1816 after discovering an affair with his half sister •Affair with Lady Frances Webster •Died in 1884

George Byron was born in 1788. His father ran away and his mother had violent mood swings so he spent a lot of time with his nurse, who was cruel and abusive. He became a nobleman aged judt 10. He fell in love with a distant cousin as a boy. He continued on to Harrow and was very popular. He discovered his bisexuality at Harrow. He continued his studies at Cambridge University in 1805 but did't take his studies seriously as hhe focused more on parties, love and poetry. He joined the House of Lords in 1809. A lot of When we Two Parted is autobiographical as there was lots of scandal in his life. He married Anabella Milbank in 1815 however she left him at 1816 after discovering he was having an affair with his half-sister. He had an affair with Lady Frances Webster, who the poem is rumoured to be about. He died in 1884. 

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Climbing my Grandfather

  Andrew Waterhouse was born in 1958. He was into nature from a young age and this influenced his poetry. He worked hard at school and was offered a place at Cambridge University but turned it down. He studied agriculture at Lincolnshire University. He then became a lecturer in enviromental publications. He was passionatee about the environment so bought 10 acres of land and planted trees on it. He got an MA in creative writing at the University of Northumbria and won a prize for his first poetry collection however, he didn't attend the award ceremony. He suffered from severe depression throughout his life and committed suicide in 2001.

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Neutral Tones

Thomas Hardy was a famous novelist and was born in 1840. His mother was into books and passed on her love of literature to Hardy. He became an apprentice to a local architect. He always had an active love life and apparently fell for many women in this time but they all rejected him. He left Dorset in 1862 to find other women but returned in 1867 where he met Emma Gifford. His novels became bestsellers. He had no kids with Emma and they eventually became estranged. He wrote futher novels during this time. Emma died in 1912 and Hardy wrote poems about her death. He later married Florence Dugdale in 1913 but they also divorced. He died in 1928 and his ashes are in Poet's Corner however, his heart was removed and buried in Emma's grave.

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Porphyria's Lover

·  Robert Browning was born in 1812. He was home-educated and enjoyed reading. He was also interested in poetry. He was very happy at home and stayed there until he was in his 30's. He wrote his first poetry collection aged 12. He also wrote poetry and plays in 1833 which were rejected. Many of his poems were dramatic monologues. Later, he wrote to Elizabeth Barret Browning and eventually fell in love with her and they married and ran away to Italy. Elizabeth died in 1861 and Browning returned to England. Browning died in 1889 and was buried in Poet's Corner.  



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·    Seamus Heaney was born in 1939. His family was Roman Catholic so there are many religious elements in his poems. He had 8 siblings and admired his father, who was a farmer. He won a college scholarship and later carried on his education at Queen's University. In 1966 he returned to Queen's as a poetry lecturer. He wrote lots of poetry in 60s and 70s and worked at Harvard at Oxford. He published an award-winning translation of Beowulf. He believes it's important to preserve rural traditions in poetry.


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Sonnet 29

Elizabeth Barret Browning was born in 1806. Her family were very wealthy and owned a luxury country estate. Elizabeth was a very ill child and was ill for most of her life. She used poetry to criticize social injustices. Her family suddenly lost money and the family had to move to London. The air in London made Elizabeth's condition worse so she moved to Torquay. She encouraged her brother Edward to join her however he drowned. Elizabeth blamed herself and moved back to London due to grief. She started sending letters to Robert Browning in 1845. The couple exchanged letters and wrote each other poems and eventually, Robert asked Elizabeth to marry him. Elizabeth's father didn't want her to marry, so the couple married in secret and moved to Italy. Elizabeth wrote a collection of sonnets for him, of which sonnet 29 is one of. The couple had a son and Elizabeth died in 1961.

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Before you Were Mine

·      Carol Ann Duffy was born in 1955. She moved to Stafford when she was 6. She was religious and attended a Catholic primary school and later Stafford girls high school. She studied Philosophy at Liverpool University. She self-identified as gay but fell for Adrian Henri during university. She won many awards and competitions such as the National Poetry Competition in 1983. She lived with Jackie Kay for 10 years and had a relationship in which she gave birth to her daughter Ella (whose biological father is poet Peter Benson). She became poet laureate in 2009 and her poems are regularly about the sacrifices of motherhood.



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Letters from Yorkshire

·    Maura Dooley was born in 1957 and is of Irish descent. She wrote poetry as a child and took inspiration from the lyrics. She attended York University where she continued writing poetry. She won an award when she was there and promotes art and teaches writing. She spent 5 years in Yorkshire which inspired her to write Letters from Yorkshire. She's now a university lecturer.

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Winter Swans

·  Owen Shears was born in 1974. He grew up in Wales. He had a stammer as a child which developed his interest in words. He studied English at Oxford University and went on to study Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He published lots of poetry collections and lots of TV shows. He is interested in the romantic poets and worked for the Welsh Rugby team, writing poems for the programs. He also wrote a play in 2013.       


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The Farmer's Bride

·  Charlotte Mew was born in 1869. Her father died shortly after she was born and she had many siblings, two were mentally ill and put in institutions and three died when they were young. She made a pact with her remaining sister to never get married.  She later met May Sinclair and fell in love. Mew was a closeted lesbian and couldn't come out as it was illegal to be gay. However, she, unfortunately, took her own life in 1928.   

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