Wendy Cope

Wendy Cope


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Wendy Cope (born on 21 July, 1945 in Erith) is an award-winning contemporary English poet. She was educated at Farringtons School and went on to read history at St Hilda's College, Oxford. She now lives in Winchester with the poet Lachlan Mackinnon.


Following graduating from St Hilda's College Wendy spent fifteen years as a primary-school teacher. In 1981 she became Arts and Reviews editor for the Inner London Education Authority magazine- Contact. Fiver years later she became a freelance writer and was a television critic for The Spectator magazine until 1990.

Three books of her poetry have been published ("Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis" in 1986, "Serious Concerns" in 1992 and "If I Don't Know" in 2001), and she has edited several anthologies of comic verse.

In 1998 she was voted the listeners' choice in a BBC Radio 4 poll to succeed Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate. She was a judge of the 2007 Man Booker prize.

Her portrait was painted by Peter Edwards. [ [http://www.peteredwards.net/main.htm Peter Edwards, Portrait Artist, Fine Art, National Portrait Gallery] peteredwards.net]

Critical Reception

Despite her slight output, her books have sold well and she has attracted a popular following with her lighthearted, often comical poetry, as well as achieving literary credibility winning two awards and making an award shortlist over a fourteen year period.

She has a keen eye for the everyday, mundane aspects of English life, especially the desires, frustrations, hopes, confusions and emotions in intimate relationships. The bathetic aspect to her work has led to comparisons with Philip Larkin.

Dr Rowan Williams is a well known fan of her work, writing that: "Wendy Cope is without doubt the wittiest of contemporary English poets, and says a lot of extremely serious things". [" [http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singleTour.do?tourId=7758 "poetryarchive.org"] " A Tour of the Archive with Dr Rowan Williams]

tyle of Poetry

Some of her poems are written in the persona of a struggling male poet, Jason Strugnell, a slightly seedy figure from Tulse Hill. She displays her talent for parody with targets ranging from the sonnets of Sir Philip Sidney:

My true love hath my heart and I have hers We swapped last Tuesday and felt quite elated But now whenever one of us refers To 'my heart' things get rather complicated.

to reducing T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" to limericks:

In April one seldom feels cheerful; Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful; Clairvoyants distress me, Commuters depress me— Met Stetson and gave him an earful.

Her style has been compared to that of John Betjeman and Philip Larkin.


* (1980) "Across the City" [limited edition] (Priapus Press)
* (1984) "Hope and the 42" (Other Branch Readings)
* (1986) "Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis" (Faber and Faber)
* (1986) "Poem from a Colour Chart of House Paints" [limited edition] (Priapus Press)
* (1988) "Does She Like Word Games?" (Anvil Press Poetry)
* (1988) "Men and Their Boring Arguments" (Wykeham)
* (1988) "Twiddling Your Thumbs" (Faber and Faber)
* (1989) "Is That the New Moon?" [editor] (HarperCollins)
* (1991) "The River Girl" (Faber and Faber)
* (1992) "Serious Concerns" (Faber and Faber)
* (1993) "The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking" [contributor] (Faber and Faber)
* (1993) "The Orchard Book of Funny Poems" [editor] (Orchard)
* (1994) "The Squirrel and the Crow" (Prospero Poets)
* (1995) "Poems 1" [contributor] (Addison Wesley Longman)
* (1996) "Another Day on Your Foot and I Would Have Died" [Contributor] (Macmillan)
* (1996) "Casting a Spell" [contributor] (Faber and Faber)
* (1996) "Marigolds Grow Wild on Platforms: An Anthology of Railway Poetry" [contributor] (Ward Lock)
* (1996) "Over the Moon: Championship Football Poems" [contributor] (Red Fox)
* (1997) "A Draft of XXX Cantos" [contributor] (Faber and Faber)
* (1997) "Dear Future: A Time Capsule of Poems" [contributor] (Hodder & Stoughton)
* (1997) "Evergreen Verse" [contributor] (Dent)
* (1998) "For All Occasions" [contributor] (Methuen)
* (1998) "Funnybones" [contributor] (CollinsEducational)
* (1998) "Silly Bones" [contributor] (Scholastic)
* (1998) "The Funny Side: 101 Humorous Poems" [editor] (Faber and Faber)
* (1999) "The Epic Poise: A Celebration of Ted Hughes" [contributor] (Faber and Faber)
* (1999) "The Faber Book of Bedtime Stories" [editor] (Faber and Faber)
* (2000) "Big Orchard Book of Funny Poems" [editor] (Orchard)
* (2001) "Heaven on Earth: 101 Happy Poems" [editor] (Faber and Faber)
* (2001) "If I Don't Know" (Faber and Faber)
* (2002) "Is That The New Moon?: Poems by Women Poets" [selector] (Collins)
* (2003) "George Herbert: Verse and Prose" [selector and introduction] (SPCK)
* (2008) "Two Cures for Love: Selected Poems 1979-2006" (Faber and Faber)


External links


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