- John Betjeman
name = Sir John Betjeman
caption = Statue of John Betjeman at
St Pancras station
birthdate = birth date|1906|8|28|df=y
birthplace = Parliament Hill Mansions, Camden, London, England
deathdate = death date and age|1984|5|19|1906|8|28|df=y
Trebetherick, Cornwall, England
occupation = Poet, writer, broadcaster
debut_works = Poetry Mount Zion (1931)
Prose Ghastly Good Taste (1933)
spouse = Hon. Penelope Chetwode (1933-1951)
Lady Elizabeth Cavendish(1951-1984)
children = Paul Betjeman
Candida Lycett Green
Sir John Betjeman, CBE (pron-en|ˈbɛtʃəmən; 28 August 1906 – 19 May 1984) was an English poet, writer and broadcaster who described himself in "Who's Who" as a "poet and hack". He was born to a middle-class family in Edwardian
Hampstead. Although he claimed he failed his degree at Oxford University, his early ability in writing poetry and interest in architecture supported him throughout his life. Starting his career as a journalist, he ended it as British Poet Laureateand a much-loved figure on British television.
Early life and education
Betjeman was born John Betjemann, which was changed to the less Germanic "Betjeman" during the
First World War. He started life at Parliament Hill Mansions on the bottom edge of Hampstead Heathin north London. His parents Mabel (née Dawson) and Ernest Betjemann had a family firm, which manufactured the kind of ornamental household furniture and gadgets so loved by Victorians. His father's forebears had come from the Netherlands, [Mowl, Timothy (2000). "Stylistic Cold Wars, Betjeman versus Pevsner", p 13.] more than a century earlier, setting up their home and business in Islington, London. In 1909, the Betjemanns left Parliament Hill Mansions, moving half a mile north to more opulent Highgate, where, from West Hill, in the reflected glory of the Burdett-Coutts estate, they could look down on those less fortunate:
"Here from my eyrie, as the sun went down,
I heard the old North London puff and shunt,
Glad that I did not live in
Gospel Oak." [Betjeman, John (1960). "Summoned by Bells", p 5.]
Betjeman's early schooling was at the local Byron House and
Highgate School, where he was taught by the poet T. S. Eliot, after which he boarded at the Dragon Schoolpreparatory school in North Oxfordand Marlborough College, a public school in Wiltshire. While at school, reading the works of Arthur Machenwon him over to an allegiance to High Church Anglicanism, a conversion of vital importance personally and for his later writing and interest in art and architecture. He was also influenced by the ghost stories of M. R. Jamesand attributed his interest in old churches, etc. to these tales in his introduction to a book about M. R. Jamesby Peter HainingHe was a contemporary of both Louis MacNeiceand Graham Shepard.
Betjeman entered the
University of Oxfordwith considerable difficulty, having failed the mathematics portion of the university's matriculation exam, Responsions. He was, however, admitted as a commoner(i.e., a non-scholarship student) at Magdalen College and entered the newly-created School of English Language and Literature. At Oxford Betjeman made little use of the academic opportunities. His tutor, a young C. S. Lewis, regarded him as an "idle prig" and Betjeman in return considered Lewis unfriendly, demanding, and uninspired as a teacher. Betjeman disliked the coursework's emphasis on linguisticsand he dedicated most of his time to cultivating an active social life, to his interest in English ecclesiastical architecture, and to private literary pursuits. He had a poem published in "Isis", the university magazine, and was editor of the "Cherwell" student newspaper during 1927. His first book of poems was privately printed with the help of fellow-student Edward James. He famously brought his teddy bear Archibald Ormsby-Goreup to Magdalen with him, the memory of which later inspired his Oxford contemporary Evelyn Waughto include Sebastian Flyte's teddy Aloysius in " Brideshead Revisited". Much of this period of his life is recorded in his blank verse autobiography, " Summoned by Bells" which was published in 1960 and made into a television film in 1976.
It is a common misapprehension, cultivated by Betjeman himself, that he did not complete his degree because he failed to pass the compulsory holy scripture examination, known as
Divinity, or, colloquially, as "Divvers." The facts of the matter are, however, more complicated. In Hilary Term 1928, Betjeman failed Divinity for the second time. He was rusticated (i.e., temporarily sent down) for Trinity Term to prepare for a retake of the exam and was permitted to return in October. Meanwhile, he wrote to G.C. Lee, secretary of the Tutorial Board at Magdalen, stating his position and asking to be entered for the Pass School (a set of examinations taken on rare occasions by undergraduates who are deemed unlikely to achieve an honours degree). It is thus also a myth (promulgated by Betjeman in "Summoned by Bells") that Lewis said "You'd have only got a third" (i.e., a third-class honours degree); rather, Lewis had informed the tutorial board that he thought Betjeman would not achieve an honours degree of any class.
Permission to sit the Pass School was granted, which was the occasion of Betjeman's famous decision to offer a paper in Welsh. The story told by
Osbert Lancasterthat a tutor was engaged twice a week by train (first class) from Aberystwyth is probably also apocryphal, since Jesus College had a number of Welsh tutors who would have taught him. Betjeman was finally sent down, permanently this time, at the end of Michaelmas Term 1928. [B. Hillier, "Young Betjeman", pp. 181–194.] It has recently been clarified that Betjeman did pass his Divinity examination on his third try but was sent down after failing the Pass School, having achieved a satisfactory result in only one of the three required papers (on Shakespeare and other English authors). [Priestman, Judith, [http://www.oxfordtoday.ox.ac.uk/2005-06/v18n3/05.shtml "The dilettante and the dons"] , "Oxford Today", Trinity term, 2006.]
Betjeman's academic failure at Oxford rankled him for the rest of his life and he was never reconciled with C. S. Lewis, towards whom he continued to nurse a bitter detestation. This situation was perhaps complicated by his enduring love of Oxford, from which he accepted an honorary doctorate of letters in 1974.
Betjeman left Oxford without a degree, but he had made the acquaintance of people who would influence his work, including
Louis MacNeice, W. H. Auden, Maurice Bowra, Osbert Lancaster, George Alfred Kolkhorst, Tom Driberg and the Sitwells.
After university Betjeman worked briefly as a private secretary, school teacher and film critic for the "
Evening Standard". After some freelance pieces for the " Architectural Review" he was employed on its full-time staff as an assistant editor between 1930 and 1935. Up to this point Betjeman had been an admirer of Victorian decoration; he changed his views, or bit his tongue, while writing for "The Review" — the editor was a vigorous proponent of Modernism. Mowl (2000) says, "His years at the "Architectural Review" were to be his true university." At this time, while his prose style matured, he joined the MARS Group, an organisation of young modernist architects and architectural critics in Britain.
On 29 July 1933 Betjeman married the Hon. Penelope Chetwode, the daughter of
Field MarshalLord Chetwode. The couple lived in Berkshireand had a son, Paul, in 1937 and a daughter, Paula (better known as Candida, now Candida Lycett Green), in 1942.
Shell Guides," a series of guides to the counties of Britain, came from an idea developed by Betjeman and Jack Beddington, a friend who was publicity manager with Shell-Mex Ltd. The guides were aimed at Britain's growing number of motorists who drove out to churches and historical sites at weekends. They were published by the Architectural Press and financed by Shell. By the start of World War II13 had been published, of which " Cornwall" (1934) and " Devon" (1936) had been written by Betjeman. A third, " Shropshire", was written with and designed by his good friend John Piper in 1951.
In 1939, Betjeman was rejected for active service in
World War IIbut found war work with the films division of the Ministry of Information. In 1941 he became British press attaché in Dublin, Ireland, which was a neutral country. He may have been involved with intelligence gathering and is reported to have been selected for assassination by the IRA until they decided that a published poet was unlikely to be involved in such work. Betjeman wrote a number of poems based on his experiences in Ireland.
After the Second World War
Penelope Betjeman became a Roman Catholic in 1948, and the couple drifted apart. In 1951, he met
Lady Elizabeth Cavendish, with whom he developed an immediate and lifelong friendship.
By 1948 Betjeman had published more than a dozen books. Five of these were verse collections, including one in the USA; although not admired by some literary critics, his poetry was popular, and sales of his "Collected Poems" in 1958 reached 100,000.
He continued writing guidebooks and works on architecture during the 1960s and 1970s and started broadcasting. His work was not limited to these activities; he was a founder member of
The Victorian Societyin 1958 and put great effort into the protection of old buildings of architectural merit which were in danger of demolition. Betjeman was also closely associated with the culture and spirit of Metro-land, the name by which the outer reaches of the Metropolitan Railwaywere known before the war.
In 1973 he made a widely acclaimed television documentary for the
BBCcalled "Metro-land", which was directed by Edward Mirzoeff. In the centenary of his birth in 2006, his daughter led two celebratory railway trips: one from London to Bristol, the other, through Metro-land, to Quainton Road.
He fought a spirited, but ultimately unsuccessful, campaign to save the Propylaeum, known commonly as the
Euston Arch, although he was victorious in the battle to preserve the iconic Gothic hotel at St Pancras Station.
In his public image Betjeman never took himself too seriously. His poems are often humorous and in broadcasting he exploited his bumbling and fogeyish image.
His wryly comic verse is accessible and has attracted a great following for its satirical and observant grace. Auden said in his introduction to "Slick But Not Streamlined" "... so at home with the provincial gaslit towns, the seaside lodgings, the bicycle, the
harmonium." His poetry is similarly redolent of time and place, continually seeking out intimations of the eternal in the manifestly ordinary. There are constant evocations of the physical chaff and clutter that accumulates in everyday life, the miscellanea of an England now gone but not beyond the reach of living memory. There is Ovaltineand the Sturmey-Archerbicycle gear, and ...:"Oh! Fuller's angel-cake, Robertson's marmalade,":"Liberty lampshades, come shine on us all."and:"I have a Slimline brief-case and I use the firm's Cortina.
In every roadside hostelry from here to
Burgess Hill" [from "Executive" in "A Nip in the Air" (1974).]
It has been astutely observed that Betjeman's poetry provides the reader with a skeleton key to a long lost past which he will instantly recognise "even if he were never there". It is this talent for evoking the familiar and secure, however homely, that makes a reader feel similarly disposed toward Betjeman himself. He is the font of wry, well-painted, avuncular reminiscence.
He was a practicing Anglican, and his religious beliefs come through in some of his poems, albeit sometimes in a rather light-hearted way. He combined piety with a nagging uncertainty about the truth of
Christianity. Unlike Thomas Hardy, who disbelieved in the truth of the Christmas story, while hoping it might be so, Betjeman affirms his belief even while fearing it might be false. Even in "Christmas", one of his most openly religious poems, the last three stanzas that proclaim the wonder of Christ's birth do so in the form of a question "And is it true...?" that is answered in the conditional, "For if it is..."
Perhaps his views on Christianity were best expressed in his poem "The Conversion of St. Paul", a response to a radio broadcast by humanist
:"But most of us turn slow to see
The figure hanging on a tree
And stumble on and blindly grope
Upheld by intermittend hope,
God grant before we die we all
May see the light as did St. Paul."
Betjeman was, however, deeply insecure, and this imbued his writings.
Poet Laureatein 1972, and this combined with his popularity as a television performer ensured that his poetry eventually reached an audience enormous by poetic standards. Like Tennyson, he appeals to a very wide public and manages to voice the thoughts and aspirations of many ordinary people while retaining the respect of many of his fellow poets. This is partly because of the apparently simple traditional metrical structures and rhymes he uses (not nearly as simple as they might appear).
In 1975 he proposed that the Fine Rooms of
Somerset Houseshould house the Turner Bequest, so helping to scupper the plan of the Minister for the Artsthat they should house the Theatre Museum.
Sir John was very fond of the ghost stories of
M.R. Jamesand supplied an introduction to Peter Haining's book "M.R. James - Book of the Supernatural."
For the last decade of his life Betjeman suffered increasingly from
Parkinson's Disease. He died at his home in Trebetherick, Cornwallon 19 May 1984, aged 77, and is buried half a mile away in the churchyard at St Enodoc's Church ["Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", OUP, 2004] . His grave can be seen on the right, immediately after passing through the entrance gate into the churchyard.
In popular culture since his death
A number of memorials have been created to Betjeman's memory, including a window designed by John Piper at All Saints' Church, Farnborough in
Berkshire, where Betjeman lived at the adjoining Rectory. There is also the Betjeman Millennium Park at nearby Wantagein Oxfordshire(formerly in Berkshire), where he had lived from 1951 to 1972 and where he set his book, "Archie and the Strict Baptists".
Madness frontman Suggs - named a Betjeman track, "On a Portrait of a Deaf Man", as one of his
Desert Island Discs[ [http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1762260,00.html How Betjeman learned to boogie | Books | The Guardian ] ]
In 7 May 2007 excerpts of John Betjeman's poem "The Cockney Amorist" were used in the song "Sheila" by
Jamie T" - It got to #15 in the UK Singles Chart. The sample was taken of the album "Banana Blush".
:"Oh when my love, my darling, "
:"You've left me here alone, "
:"I'll walk the streets of London "
:"Which once seemed all our own."
:"The vast suburban churches"
"Together we have found"
"The ones which smelt of gaslight"
"The ones in incense drown'd"
Everyday Is Like Sunday" a song by the singer songwriter Morrisseycontains the line in "the seaside town that they forgot to bomb" which was inspired by the line "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough" from Betjeman's poem "Slough" from "Continual Dew". [ [http://www-cdr.stanford.edu/intuition/Slough.html Slough - John Betjeman ] ] Morrissey choose one of Betjemans poems, "A Child III" for his NME complimation CD "songs to save your life"
* 1960 Queen's Medal for Poetry
* 1960 CBE (
Commander of the Order of the British Empire)
* 1968 Companion of Literature, the
Royal Society of Literature
* 1972 Poet Laureate
* 1973 Honorary Member, the
American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Betjeman and architecture
Betjeman had a special fondness for
Victorian architectureand was a great Victorian Society activist, actively leading the campaign to save Holy Trinity Sloane Streetwhen it was threatened with demolition in the early 1970s. [cite book |last=Pearce|first=David |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Conservation Today|year=1989 |publisher= Routledge|location= London |isbn=041500778X] He is considered instrumental in helping to save the famous facade of St. Pancras railway station in London and was commemorated when it reopened as an internatonal and domestic terminus in November 2007. He was said to have called the plan to demolish St. Pancras a "criminal folly." About the station itself he wrote:
"What [the Londoner] sees in his mind's eye is that cluster of towers and pinnacles seen from Pentonville Hill and outlined against a foggy sunset, and the great arc of Barlow's train shed gaping to devour incoming engines, and the sudden burst of exuberant Gothic of the hotel seen from gloomy Judd Street."The newly reopened St. Pancras now features a statue of Betjeman in the station at platform level. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/london/7070724.stm BBC News article on St. Pancras station re-opening] ]
He was alleged to be a snob, a romantic, out of touch with the realities of contemporary life and steeped in nostalgia.whom While these criticisms contain an element of truth, his opposition to modernism's rejection of history and disdain for the individual has since found support as modernism's full rigour has in turn been rejected and supplanted, and human scale and cultural context have been readmitted to serious debate. He responded to
architectureas the visible manifestation of society's spiritual life as well as its political and economic structure. He attacked speculators and bureaucrats for what he saw as their rapacity and lack of imagination.
The preface of his collection of architectural essays, "First and Last Loves" says:
"We accept the collapse of the fabrics of our old churches, the thieving of lead and objects from them, the commandeering and butchery of our scenery by the services, the despoiling of landscaped parks and the abandonment to a fate worse than the workhouse of our country houses, because we are convinced we must save money."
Most of the work below has been published more than once. In most cases the details given are those of first publication.
* Betjeman, John (1931). "Mount Zion, or in touch with the infinite". London: James Press. (With illustrations).
* Betjeman, John (1937). "Continual Dew, a little book of bourgeois verse". London: John Murray. (With illustrations).
* Epsilon [Betjeman, John] (1938). "Sir John Piers". Mullingar: Westmeath Examiner.
* Betjeman, John (1940). "Old Lights for New Chancels, verses topographical and amatory". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1945). "New Bats in Old Belfries". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1947). "Slick but not Streamlined". Garden City N.Y.:Doubleday & Co. (With an introduction by W. H. Auden).
* Betjeman, John (1950). "Selected Poems: chosen with a preface by
John Hanbury Angus Sparrow". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1954). "A Few Late Chrysanthemums". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1954). "Poems in the Porch". London: SPCK. (Illustrated by John Piper).
* Betjeman, John (1958). "John Betjeman’s Collected Poems". London: John Murray. (Compiled and with an introduction by the Earl of Birkenhead)
* Betjeman, John (1959). "Altar and Pew, Church of England verses". London:
Edward G. Hulton.
* Betjeman, John (1960). "
Summoned by Bells". London: John Murray. (With drawings by Michael Tree).
* Betjeman, John (1962). "A Ring of Bells". London: John Murray. (Illustrated by Edward Ardizzone).
* Betjeman, John (1966). "High and low". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1971). "A Wembley Lad and The Crem". London: Poem-of-the-month Club.
* Maugham, Robin (1977). "The barrier : a novel containing five sonnets by John Betjeman written in the style of the period". London: WH Allen.
* Betjeman, John (1974). "A nip in the air". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1976). "Betjeman in Miniature: selected poems of Sir John Betjeman". Paisley: Gleniffer Press.
* Betjeman, John (1978). "The best of Betjeman: selected by John Guest". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1981). "Church poems". London: John Murray. (Illustrated by John Piper).
* Betjeman, John (1982). "Uncollected poems: with a foreword by Bevis Hillier". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (2005). "Faith and Doubt of John Betjeman: An Anthology of Betjeman's Religious Verse" London: Continuum. (Edited by Kevin J. Gardner).
* Betjeman, John (2007). "Tennis Whites and Teacakes: An Anthology of Betjeman's prose and verse". Edited and introduced by Stephen Games. London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1933). "Ghastly good taste, or the depressing story of the rise and fall of British architecture". London: Chapman & Hall.
* Betjeman, John (1934). "Cornwall Illustrated, in a Series of Views". London: Architectural Press. (A Shell Guide).
* Betjeman, John (1936). "Devon - Compiled with many illustrations.". London: Architectural Press. (A Shell Guide).
* Betjeman, John (1938). "
An Oxford University Chest, comprising a description of the present state of the town and University of Oxford". London: John Miles. (Illustrated in line and halftone by L. Moholy-Nagy, Osbert Lancaster, Edward Bradley and others).
* Betjeman, John (1939). "Antiquarian Prejudice". London: Hogarth Press (Hogarth Sixpenny Pamphlet #3).
* Betjeman, John (1942). "Vintage London". London: William Collins.
* Betjeman, John (1943). "English Cities and Small Towns". London: William Collins. (One of series: The British People in Pictures).
* Betjeman, John (1944). "English Scottish and Welsh landscape 1700-1860". London: Frederick Muller Ltd.
* Betjeman, John (1944). "John Piper". London: Penguin Books. (One of series: The Penguin Modern Painters).
* Betjeman, John; Lewis, CS; et al (1946). "Five sermons by laymen". Northampton: St Matthew's Church.
* Betjeman, John (1947). ed "Watergate Children’s Classics". London: Watergate Classics.
* Betjeman, John; Piper, John (Eds.) (1948). "Murray’s Buckinghamshire Architectural Guide". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John; Piper, John (Eds.) (1949). "Murray’s Berkshire Architectural Guide". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1950). "Studies in the History of Swindon". Swindon. (with many others).
* Betjeman, John; Piper, John (1951). "Shropshire - with maps and illustrations". London: Faber & Faber. (Shell Guide).
* Betjeman, John (1952). "First and Last Loves, essays on towns and architecture". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1953); et al. "Gala day London, photographs by
Izis Bidermanas". Harvill Press.
* Betjeman, John (1956). "The English Town in the Last Hundred Years, The
Rede Lecture". Cambridge: CUP.
* Betjeman, John (1958). "Collins Guide to English Parish Churches, including the Isle of Man". London: Collins.
* Betjeman, John (1960). "First and Last Loves". London: Arrow Books. (With drawings by John Piper).
* Betjeman, John (ca 1962). "Clifton College buildings". Bristol. (Reprinted from "Centenary essays on Clifton College").
* Betjeman, John (1964). "Cornwall, A Shell Guide ". Faber and Faber. (A Shell Guide).
* Betjeman, John; Clarke, Basil (1964). "English Churches". London: Vista Books.
* Betjeman, John (1965). "The City of London Churches". London: Pitkin Pictorials. (One of Pitkin "Pride of Britain" series).
* Betjeman, John (1968). "Collins pocket guide to English parish churches". London: Collins.
* Betjeman, John (1969). "Victorian and Edwardian London from old photographs". London: Batsford.
* Perry George; et al (1970). "The book of the Great Western, with introduction by J. Betjeman ". London: Sunday Times Magazine.
* Betjeman, John (1972). "A pictorial history of English architecture". London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John (1972). "London's historic railway stations". London: John Murray. (Photographs by John Gay).
* Betjeman, John (1974). "A plea for Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street". London: Church Literature Association. (With four drawings by Gavin Stamp).
* Betjeman, John; Rowse, AL (1976). "Victorian and Edwardian Cornwall from old photographs". London: Batsford.
* Betjeman, John (1977). "Archie and the Strict Baptists". London: John Murray. (Children's stories: illustrated by Phillida Gili).
* Betjeman, John (1977). "Metro-land". London: Warren Editions. (Limited edition: with lithographs by Glynn Boyd Harte).
* Betjeman, John (1984). "Betjeman's Cornwall". London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-4106-9*
* Betjeman, John (2007). "Tennis Whites and Teacakes: An Anthology of Betjeman's prose and verse." Edited and introduced by Stephen Games. London: John Murray.
* Betjeman, John and Parker, Jim. "Banana Blush, Varsity Rag, Betjeman's Britain, Late Flowering Love": John Betjeman reads his poems with musical accompaniment provided by
Jim Parker (composer)
* Betjeman, John (2006). "Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected BBC Radio Talks, 1932-55". London: John Murray. (Edited and introduced by Stephen Games.)
* Betjeman, John (2007). "Sweet Songs of Zion". London: Hodder & Stoughton. (Edited and introduced by Stephen Games.)
His television programmes included:
*"John Betjeman In The West Country", made for the defunct
ITVcompany TWW in 1962. This series was long thought lost, but was rediscovered in the 1990s and shown on Channel 4under the titles "The Lost Betjemans" and "Betjeman Revisited"
*"John Betjeman Goes By Train", a co-production between
BBCEast Anglia and British Transport Films, made in 1962
*"One Man's County", BBC programme from 1964, about Cornwall
*"Something About Diss", made for BBC East Anglia in 1964
*Two episodes in the "Bird's Eye View" series, "An Englishman's Home" and "Beside The Seaside", made for the BBC in 1969
*"Betjeman In Australia", a co-production between the BBC and the
Australian Broadcasting Commission, made in 1971
*"Thank God It's Sunday", made for the BBC in 1972
*"Metro-land", a poetic and humorous journey on the
Metropolitan Linefrom Baker Streetto rural Buckinghamshire, made for the BBC in 1973
*"A Passion For Churches", made for the BBC in 1974
*"Summoned By Bells", a television version of his verse autobiography, made for the BBC in 1976
*"Vicar Of This Parish", a documentary about
Francis Kilvertand his love of Herefordshireand the Welsh Marches, made for the BBC in 1976
*"Queen's Realm", a compilation programme made for the
Silver Jubileein 1977, most of it compiled from 1968/69 "Bird's Eye View" footage
*"Time With Betjeman", his final and retrospective series (1983), which included extracts from much of his television work, conversations with his producer Jonathan Stedall and many friends and colleagues, and included a memorable final interview filmed outside his home in
*"Betjeman and Me", series aired by
BBC Twoin August 2006, a retrospective of Betjeman's life, loves and poetry. The series comprised three authored doumentaries: TV chef Rick Steinon Betjeman's connections to Cornwall, architectural historian, conservationist and broadcaster Dan Cruickshankon Betjeman's role as a supporter of architectural heritage, and actor Griff Rhys Joneson Betjeman's poetry considered from a literary perspective.
*“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.”
*“I don't think I am any good. If I thought I was any good, I wouldn't be.”
*“Too many people in the modern world view poetry as a luxury, not a necessity like petrol. But to me it's the oil of life.”
*"Now if the harvest is over, And the world cold, Give me the bonus of laughter, As I lose hold."
"A bibliography of works by John Betjeman appears above."
* Matthew, H.C.G. and Harrison, B. (eds), (2004). "Oxford dictionary of national biography" (vol. 5). Oxford: OUP.
* Brooke, Jocelyn (1962). "Ronald Firbank and John Betjeman". London: Longmans, Green & Co.
* Games, Stephen (2006). "Trains and Buttered Toast", Introduction. London: John Murray.
* Games, Stephen (2007). "Tennis Whites and Teacakes", Introduction. London: John Murray.
* Games, Stephen (2007). "Sweet Songs of Zion", Introduction. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
* Gardner, Kevin J. (2005). "John Betjeman." "The Oxford encyclopedia of British literature". New York: Oxford University Press.
* Green, Chris (2006). "John Betjeman and the Railways". Transport for London
* Hillier, Bevis (1984). "John Betjeman: a life in pictures". London: John Murray.
* Hillier, Bevis (1988). "Young Betjeman". London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-4531-5.
* Hillier, Bevis (2002). "John Betjeman: new fame, new love". London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-5002-5.
* Hillier, Bevis (2004). "Betjeman: the bonus of laughter". London : John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-6495-6.
* Hillier, Bevis (2006). "Betjeman: the biography". London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-6443-3
* Lycett Green, Candida (Ed.) (Aug 2006). "Letters: John Betjeman, Vol.1, 1926 to 1951". London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-77595-X
* Lycett Green, Candida (Ed.) (Aug 2006). "Letters: John Betjeman, Vol.2, 1951 to 1984". London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-77596-8
* Lycett Green, Candida, "Betjeman's stations" in "The Oldie", September 2006
* Mirzoeff, Edward (2006). "Viewing notes" for "Metro-land" (DVD) (24pp)
* Mowl, Timothy (2000). "Stylistic Cold Wars, Betjeman versus Pevsner". London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-5909-X
* Schroeder, Reinhard (1972). "Die Lyrik John Betjemans". Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag. (Thesis).
* Sieveking, Lancelot de Giberne (1963). "John Betjeman and Dorset". Dorchester: Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society.
* Stanford, Derek (1961). "John Betjeman, a study". London: Neville Spearman.
* Taylor-Martin, Patrick (1983). "John Betjeman, his life and work". London: Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-1539-0
* Wilson, A. N. (2006). "Betjeman". London: Hutchinson. ISBN 0-09-179702-0
* Betjeman, John (1960). "Summoned by Bells". London: John Murray.
* Mowl, Timothy (2000). "Stylistic Cold Wars, Betjeman versus
Pevsner". London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-5909-X
* [http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/brookej/btjmn/ Biography by Jocelyn Brooke]
* [http://www.victorian-society.org.uk/ The Victorian Society]
* [http://www.johnbetjeman.com/ John Betjeman website]
* [http://www.johnbetjeman.com/betjsoc.htm The Betjeman Society]
* [http://www.fenlandlincs.com/files/BetjemanSignature Copy of John Betjeman's Signature]
* [http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/brookej/btjmn/ Biography] by Jocelyn Brooke
* [http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=1536# The Poetry Archive] entry for John Betjeman (recordings of "A Subaltern's Love Song" and "Youth and Age on Beaulieu River")
* [http://www.shellguides.freeserve.co.uk/ Shell County Guides website]
* [http://www.geoffwilkins.net/fragments/Betjeman.htm A Shropshire Lad] with audio from Sir John
* [http://www.highspeed1.com/betjeman A theatrical event about John Betjeman's role in saving St Pancras Station]
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