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W.H. Davies: Man and Poet - A Reassessment
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Even though he was once one of Britain’s most popular writers, the reputation of the poet and memoirist W.H. Davies has, in recent decades, gone into decline.
Davies’s colourful early life as a hobo and a tramp – captured by his most famous work The Autobiography of a Super Tramp – and his apparently ‘innocent’ poems about nature, tales about the seamier sides of life, his experiences on the road and verse portraits of those characters he met there – has led to the Welsh poet being placed under the cosy heading ‘Georgian’.
It has been a tag which does serious disservice to the tone, nature and ambition of Davies’s lyrics.
As poet and critic Michael Cullup shows in this brief but insightful exploration of the entirety of Davies’s output – the memoirs, the short stories as well as the poems – there was a more complex personality than the one suggested by his public persona. True, he was a figure at home with the Georgian literary world – Edward Thomas and Hilaire Belloc were close friends – yet he was also capable of impressing more avant-garde talents like Ezra Pound and Jacob Epstein.
In this bracing reappraisal Cullup judiciously undermines preconceived notions of Davies the writer to reveal a poetic imagination richer, more insightful, more thoughtful than that for which he is generally given credit. Included in this critical biography is a generous and illustrative selection of Davies’s verse.
About the author:
Michael Cullup comes from Abbotsley, Huntingdonshire. He went to the village school there, then won a scholarship to Kimbolton School in the same county. After National Service in the Royal Navy, he went on to University College, London, and Birbeck College. He taught English in schools and colleges before specialising in the teaching of English to overseas students, having gained a postgraduate qualification at Leeds University. He worked in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand before joining the Bell Educational Trust in Norwich. Cullup has lived in Norfolk since 1977, and he retired from teaching in 1993 to become a full-time writer. His latest book of poetry, A Change of Season, was published by Greenwich Exchange in 2010.
Greenwich Exchange Category: Literature
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