George Orwell

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Orwell: George (born Eric Arthur Blair)

Born: 25 June 1903, Motihari, India
Died: 21 January 1950, London, England

Orwell’s genius lies in his ability to take his own experiences (for example he worked as a dishwasher and he fought in the Spanish Civil War) and to work an astute political commentary into his storyline. History has a way of repeating itself and much of what Orwell wrote in his heyday is just as relevant today. This is borne out by the quotations below.


“Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.
“In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act”.
“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”.


  • Animal Farm
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • Down and Out in Paris and London
  • Burmese Days

Arthur Miller

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Miller: Arthur Asher

arthur miller
Born: 17 October, 1915, Harlem, New York
Died: 10 February 2005, Roxbury, Connecticut, United States

“Miller based his works on American history, his own life, and his observations of the American scene. Though uniquely American, they simultaneously were universal stories about an individual’s strugg;e with his society, his family, and especially, himself. Miller’s characters suffer from anxiety, depression, and guilt, and it was the genius of Miller to portray their pain and sorrow realistically, creating works that were familiar, yet uncanny in their power to move an audience. Miller’s stature is based on his refusal to avoid moral and social issues in his writing, even when the personal cost was terrible.”

IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Miller’s daughter, Rebecca, married Daniel Day-Lewis who starred in the 1996 film version of The Crucible


“Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets”.
“Betrayal is the only truth that sticks”.


  • The Crucible
  • Death of a Salesman
  • All my Sons
  • No Villain
  • A View from a Bridge

Yeats – William Butler

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Irish Poet (Nobel Prize Winner) Yeats2 Yeats

YEATS: William Butler – 1865-1939

Born: 13 June 1865, Sandmount (Dublin), Republic of Ireland
Died: 28 January, 1939, Menton, France

Brief biolgraphy

Yeats was one of the few poets whose greatest works were written after he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Yeats fell in love with a woman who later married (then divorced) John MacBride who Yeats intensely disliked. Yeats later married a woman whose fascination with the esoteric matched his own. Much of his work is based on Irish folklore. In a bizarre twist, when Yeats’ body was moved from France where he died, to Ireland, the son of MacBride oversaw the operation.


”I hate journalists. There is nothing in them but tittering jeering emptiness. They have all made what Dante calls the Great Refusal…. The shallowest people on the ridge of the earth.”

Selected Bibliography
Yeats wrote over 400 poems

Poetry (* Famous poems)

* When You Are Old: When you are old and full of sleep
* A Drinking Song: Wine comes in at the mouth and love comes in at the eye
* An Irish Airman Foresees His Death: I know I shall meet my fate somewhere among the clouds above; Those that I fight I do not hate
* Youth and Age: Much did I rage when young being by the world oppressed
* A Crazed Girl: That crazed girl improvising her music. Her poetry, dancing upon the shore


The Celtic Twilight

Short stories

The Crucifixion Of The Outcast
The Curse Of The Fires And Of The Shadows
The Death Of Hanrahan
Hanrahan’s Vision
Red Hanrahan’s Curse
Heart Of The Spring, The
The Old Men Of The Twilight
Out of The Rose
The Twisting Of The Rope
Where There Is Nothing, There Is God


The Countess Cathleen
The Dreaming Of The Bones
The Green Helmet; An Heroic Farce
The Hour Glass
The Land Of Heart’s Desire
The Unicorn from the Stars


Ideas from Good and Evil
Forgotten Tales of Long Ago

T.S Eliot (Thomas Stearns)

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American born poet: later emigrated to the UK. TS Eliot3

T.S.Eliot (Thomas Stearns) 1888-1965

Nobel Prize in Literature 1948
Born: 26 September 1888, St Louis, Missouri, USA
Died: 4 January 1965, Kensington, London, UK


Eliot left the US in 1927 and at age 39 (1927) became a naturalised UK citizen. He drew inspirations from poets such as Donne and Baudelaire. His earlier works question the literary and social conventions of Victorian society. The word’ Bullshit’ was coined by Eliot in 1910 in the title of a poem. He converted from American Unitarian (as opposed to Trinitarianism) to Orthodox Christianity. He was a director at Faber and Faber Publishers. His ashes are in St Michael’s Church in East Coker in Somerset from where his ancestor Andrew Eliot emigrated to the US in 1667 and there is memorial to him in Westminster Abbey.


“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.”
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
“Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.”
“Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
“Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”
Eliot’s epitaph: “In my beginning is my end. In my end is my beginning.”

Selected Bibliography (*Best known)


Eliot wrote nearly 60 poems – some very long!
*Gerontion: Here I am, an old man in a dry month, Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain.
*The Waste Land: April is the cruellest month,
*The Hollow Men: We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together
*Ash Wednesday: Because I do not hope to turn again Because I do not hope
*Four Quartets: They shut me up in Prose
*The Love song of J Alfred Prufrock: Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherised upon a table;
*Gus: The Theatre Cat: Gus is the Cat at the Theatre Door. His name, as I ought to have told you before, Is really Asparagus. That’s such a fuss To pronounce, that we usually call him just Gus.
*Preludes: The winter evening settles down with smell of steaks in passageways. Six o’clock. The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
Song: Memory (Cats): recorded by both Barbra Streisand and Elaine Page, Lloyd Webber’s lyrics are inspired by lines in TS Eliot’s Preludes
*Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (On which Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musical Cats is based)
*Murder in the Cathedral

Letter and Essays

There are numerous books about Eliot as well as collections and collations of his work and his literary criticisms.

Newbolt – Sir Henry

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English Poet English poet Henry Newbolt
Lawyer, Novelist, Playwright, Magazine Editor, Poet.

NEWBOLT: Sir Henry 1862-1938

Born: 6 June 1862, Bilston, Staffordshire, United Kingdom
Died: 19 April 1938, Kensington, United Kingdom


Newbolt was a barrister. After World War 1 he was commissioned to complete Great Britain’s official naval history. His marriage to Margaret Duckworth was unusual as she was in love with another woman and only agreed if Ella Coltman was an accepted part of their intimate lives. Newbolt eventually made Ella his mistress but this was further complicated when Newbolt fell in love with another woman, while Margaret fell in love with a sculptor, Henry Furse. Henry grew to hate his poem Vitae Lampada when he was asked to recite it at every stop on a lecture tour of Canada.

“To set the cause above renown.”

Selected Bibliography
Sir Henry produced over 80 poems

POETRY (* Famous poems)

* Vitae Lampada: There’s a breathless hush in the Close tonight, ten to make and the match to win
*Drake’s Drum: Drake he’s in his hammock an’ a thousand miles away, (Capten, art tha sleepin’ there below?)
*The Fighting Téméraire: It was eight bells ringing, For the morning watch was done,

Kipling – Rudyard

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English Poet English Poet Kipling

KIPLING: Rudyard 1865-1936

Nobel Prize for Literature 1907
Born: 30 December 1865, Mumbai, India
Died: 18 January 1936, London, United Kingdom


Kipling was a snowbird and escaped the northern winters in Cape Town. He declined most of the many honours offered him including a knighthood, the title of Poet Laureate and the Order of Merit.

”Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
”For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”
Selected Bibliography (*Famous Poems)
Kipling wrote nearly 550 poems


*If: If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
*Gunga Din: You may talk o’ gin and beer When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,
*I Keep Six Honest: I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew)
*The Way through the Woods: They shut the road through the woods seventy years ago
*How the Camel Got His Hump: The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump which well you may see at the Zoo;
*The Female of the Species: When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride, He shouts to scare the monster who will often turn aside.

NOVELS (*Best known)

Kipling was a prolific writer producing 1200 books, some of which have stood the test of time
*Jungle Book
*Just So Stories
Puck of Pook’s Hill (Based on the signing of the Magna Carta)
Stalky and Co.
Captains Courageous


Cutting-edge Fashion

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Poet Laureate 1930 – 1967

English Poet English Poet Masefield

MASEFIELD: John 1878 – 1967 (Order of Merit)

Born: 1 June 1878, Ledbury, United Kingdom
Died: 12 May 1967, Abingdon, United Kingdom


In his teens, Masefield went to sea as a cadet. He jumped ship in New York and lived for several months as a vagrant. When he later became employed all his earnings went to feed his vociferous appetite for literature. He was an inspiring and very popular speaker and lecturer and received honorary Doctorates from both Harvard and Yale, followed by honorary degrees from various British Universities including a Doctorate from Oxford. He died from a gangrenous infection and his ashes were spread in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner after which this verse was found:

Let no religious rite be done or read
In any place for me when I am dead,
But burn my body into ash, and scatter
The ash in secret into running water,
Or on the windy down, and let none see;
And then thank God that there’s an end of me.


”Commonplace people dislike tragedy because they dare not suffer and cannot exult.”
“The days that make us happy make us wise.”
Selected Bibliography
Masefield produced about 45 poems

POETRY (* Famous poems)

* Sea Fever: I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
*Cargoes: Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
*On Growing Old: Be with me, Beauty, for the fire is dying; My dog and I are old, too old for roving.
*Beauty: I have seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills
*A Wanderer’s Song: A wind’s in the heart of me, a fire’s in my heels, I am tired of brick and stone
*The West Wind: It’s a warm wind, the west wind, full of birds’ cries;
*Roadways: One road leads to London, One road leads to Wales, My road leads me seawards


Masefield wrote about 20 novels and 8 non-fiction/semi auto biographical books as well as a handful of plays

For children:

*The Midnight Folk
*The Box of Delights

For adults:

Stories of the sea:
*The Bird of Dawning
*Victorious Troy
Social Commentary:
*The Hawbucks
*The Square Peg


So many true Princesses have gone – set to music by Sir Edward Elgar and performed at the unveiling of a memorial to Queen Alexandra.


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American poet John Gillespie Magee

MAGEE: John Gillespie Jr. 1922 – 1941

Born: 9 June 1922, Shanghai, China
Died: 11 December 1941, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom (Aged 19 killed in a flying accident)


Magee was the son of missionary parents. In 1939 he went to the States and enrolled at Yale on scholarship. He became a pilot with the Royal Canadian Airforce in 1941 which is when he wrote High Flight. He died when his Spitfire collided with another plane over England. He is buried in Scopwick (Lincolnshire) in the UK.


Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds,—and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


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American poet Robert Frost

FROST: Robert 1874-1963

Four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner for Poetry
Born: 26 March 1874, San Francisco, California, United States
Died: 29 January 1963, Boston, Massachusetts, United States


A poem is “never a put-up job…. It begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a loneliness. It is never a thought to begin with. It is at its best when it is a tantalizing vagueness.” Tragedy and misfortune followed Frost: most of his children suffered from various maladies and died young – this in addition to many failed business ventures. He moved to England in 1912 where he met Ezra Pound who was the first to recognise Frost’s genius, but when war broke out he returned to America in 1914. He taught at numerous universities and colleges, predominantly at Amherst College where the library is named in his honour. He attended Kennedy’s inauguration and was regarded as America’s Poet Laureate.


“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”
“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”
“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”

Selected Bibliography (*Best known)
Robert Frost wrote over 150 poems

POETRY (* Famous poems)

* The Road Not Taken: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both and be one traveller
Fire and Ice: Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.
Acquainted with the Night: I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain — and back in rain
Once by the Pacific: The shattered water made a misty din
The Freedom of the Moon: I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air


A Way Out: A One Act
The Cow’s in the Corn: A One Act Irish Play in Rhyme
A Masque of Reason
A Masque of Mercy

Prose books

The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer
Robert Frost and John Bartlett: The Record of a Friendship, by Margaret Bartlett Anderson
Selected Letters of Robert Frost
Interviews with Robert Frost
Family Letters of Robert and Elinor Frost
Robert Frost and Sidney Cox: Forty Years of Friendship
The Notebooks of Robert Frost, edited by Robert Faggen


The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886–1921, edited by Donald Sheehy, Mark Richardson, and Robert Faggen

Dylan Thomas


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Welsh Poet Dylan Thomas Dylan Thomas 2

THOMAS: Dylan 1914 – 1953

Born: 27 October 1914, Swansea, (Wales), United Kingdom
Died: 9 November 1953, Greenwich, United Kingdom

Dylan Thomas was a controversial character whose drinking and philandering often made headline news. He was only 17 when he wrote And Death shall have No Dominion and his first anthology appeared a year later. There is a memorial plaque for him in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.


“Washington isn’t a city, it’s an abstraction.”
“Poetry is not the most important thing in life… I’d much rather lie in a hot bath reading Agatha Christie and sucking sweets.”

Selected Bibliography
Dylan Thomas wrote over 100 poems

POETRY (* Famous poems)

* Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night: Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
* And Death Shall Have No Dominion: And death shall have no dominion.Dead man naked they shall be one
* Fern Hill: Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughsAbout the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
* Poem In October: It was my thirtieth year to heaven Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
* Clown in the moon: My tears are like the quiet drift Of petals from some magic rose;


Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog
Selected Writings of Dylan Thomas
Adventures In The Skin Trade, an unfinished novel
Quite Early One Morning (planned by Thomas, posthumously published by New Directions)
A Child’s Christmas in Wales
A Prospect of the Sea and other stories and prose writings
Letters to Vernon Watkins
Rebecca’s Daughters
Twelve More Letters, (limited edition of 175)


Under Milk Wood (Written for Radio)


Ideas from Good and Evil
Forgotten Tales of Long Ago