John Heath-Stubbs

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John Heath-Stubbs, poet, photographed in 1994

John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs OBE (9 July 1918 – 26 December 2006) was an English poet and translator, known for verse influenced by classical myths, and for the long Arthurian poem Artorius (1972).

Biography

Heath-Stubbs was born in London, and educated at Bembridge School and Queen's College, Oxford. He co-edited Eight Oxford Poets in 1941, with Sidney Keyes and Michael Meyer, and helped edit Oxford Poetry in 1942–43. He held the Gregory Fellowship of Poetry at Leeds University (1952–55) and he had professorships in Alexandria (1955–58) and Ann Arbor, Michigan (1960–61). He taught at the College of St Mark and St John in Chelsea (1962–72), as well as at Merton College, Oxford for twenty years from 1972. He lived for a time in the 1950s at Zennor in Cornwall.

His translations included works by Sappho, Horace, Catullus, Hafiz, Verlaine, and most notably Giacomo Leopardi. He was a representative figure in British poetry in the early 1950s, editing the poetry anthology Images of Tomorrow (1953), and with David Wright, the Faber Book of Twentieth Century Verse, among others. He was elected to the RSL in 1954, awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 1973, and appointed OBE in 1989. Although afflicted by blindness from the 1960s, and completely without sight from 1978, he continued to write almost to the end. Ibycus: A Poem by John Heath-Stubbs, documentary film was made by the Chilean director Carlos Klein in 1997.

Writing style

His diction was strong, yet subtle. Running through his work, like that of most romantic poets, was a nostalgia for "classicism". He was consciously literary, and his work was elaborately wrought rather than spontaneous, so it was not the kind of poetry likely to have mass appeal. However, his devotion to the craft of poetry makes his work impressive. Few writers of his time had a deeper knowledge of the English language, or cared for it more devotedly.[1]

Poetry collections

John Heath-Stubbs, by Patrick Swift, c.1960.
  • 1942: Wounded Thammuz*1972: Penguin Modern Poets 20, co editor*1948: The Swarming of the Bees
  • 1950: The Forsaken Garden: An Anthology of Poetry 1824–1909, edited with David Wright
  • 1953: New Poems
  • 1953: Faber Book of Twentieth Century Verse, edited with David Wright
  • 1954: A Charm Against the Toothache
  • 1962: The Blue-Fly in His Head
  • 1965: Selected Poems
  • 1969: Cosmic Poem
  • 1974: Artorius: A Heroic Poem in Four Books and Eight Episodes
  • 1978: The Watchman's Flute
  • 1979: Omar Khayyám, The Rubaiyat, translated with Peter Avery
  • 1981: In The Shadows - David Gray, editor
  • 1982: Naming the Beasts
  • 1985: The Immolation of Aleph
  • 1987: Cat's Parnassus, Hearing Eye. ISBN 1-870841-00-X
  • 1988: Collected Poems 1942–1987, Carcanet Press
  • 1988: Time Pieces, Hearing Eye. ISBN 1-870841-02-6
  • 1988: A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Poems for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Hearing Eye, illustrations by Emily Johns
  • 1989: A Ninefold Of Charms, Hearing Eye, illustrations by Emily Johns
  • 1990: Selected Poems
  • 1992: The Parson's Cat, Hearing Eye, illustrations by Emily Johns
  • 1993: Sweet-Apple Earth
  • 1993: Hindsights : An Autobiography
  • 1994: Chimaeras, Hearing Eye, lino etchings by Emily Johns
  • 1996: Galileo's Salad
  • 1998: The literary essays of John Heath-Stubbs, edited by A.T. Tolley
  • 1999: The Sound of Light
  • 2000: The Poems of Sulpicia, translator, Hearing Eye, illustrations by Emily Johns
  • 2002: The Return of the Cranes
  • 2005: Pigs Might Fly

References

External links

  • Interview from 1989
  • Poet John Heath-Stubbs dies at 88, BBC News, 26 December 2006
  • Obituary, The Independent, 27 December 2006
  • Obituary, The Guardian, 29 December 2006
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • BBC Your Paintings in partnership with the PCF, portrait of John Heath-Stubbs by Peter Edwards
  • Sebastian Barker - RSL
  • Archival material at Leeds University Library
  • "John Heath-Stubbs", Fellows Remembered, The Royal Society of Literature
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