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U.A. Fanthorpe's Christmas Poems gathers together the poems she wrote and sent to friends as Christmas cards from 1974 to 2002. Now readers can enjoy Fanthorpe's yearly output in... Read more
U.A. Fanthorpe's Christmas Poems gathers together the poems she wrote and sent to friends as Christmas cards from 1974 to 2002. Now readers can enjoy Fanthorpe's yearly output in its entirety. Her subject matter covers a broad range of seasonal characters, from angels to personified Christmas trees, and a variety of styles to match, from moments of beautiful lyricism to the comically touching Gloucestershire foxes begging baby Jesus to visit: 'Come live wi we under Westridge / Where the huntin folk be few'. Fanthorpe is witty and highly original, rethinking the Christmas story from quirky angles, to create her own alternative Christmas legend from the cat and the sheep-dog left out of the stable, to the wicked fairy's gifts for Jesus. Above all, these poems are celebrations of Christmas joy and love.
I have long been a fan of the late UA Fanthorpe’s poetry, and knew that she had written a couple of more well-known poems about Christmas and Advent. What I didn’t know was that these poems were the fruit of her annual tradition of sending her friends a Christmas poem in place of a usual Christmas card. This has the whole witty collection, together with the hand-drawn illustrations that would have accompanied them each year.
Born in Kent in 1929, U. A. Fanthorpe was Head of English at Cheltenham Ladies' College, and then 'became a middle-aged drop-out in order to write', publishing her first collection, Side Effects, in 1978. After working as a hospital clerk in Bristol, she was the Arts Council Literary Fellow at Lancaster, and in 1994 she was the first woman to be nominated for the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford. Her seven volumes of poetry are all published by Peterloo Poets, and her Selected Poems was published by Penguin in 1986. She has also written children's poetry for The Crystal Zoo. U. A. Fanthorpe was awarded the C.B.E. in 2001. Her Collected Poems (Peterloo) appeared in 2003. R. V. Bailey was born in Northumberland and has worked as cafeteria assistant, librarian, information officer, teacher, counsellor, and latterly as director of undergraduate courses in Humanities at the University of the West of England, Bristol. She is the other voice in poetry recordings by U. A. Fanthorpe (Awkward Subject, Double Act, Poetry Quartets 5), and has published a pamphlet, Course Work (Culverhay Press, 1997) and a full collection with Peterloo, Marking Time (2004).
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