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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Julie Crane

Crane, Julie (2018). The Lonely Figures of  John Betjeman. The Cambridge Quarterly 47(2): 116-130.

Author(s) from Durham


LONELINESS IS IN SOME WAYS AN ODD QUALITY to claim for John Betjeman. When he died in May 1984 he was a much-loved public figure, a laureate whose famous appearance, both dapper and shabby, was evocative of his age, and denoted the warmth and charm of a recognisable personality. His television appearances had ensured for him recognition by a wide public, and his poems were recognised and enjoyed by those who were not habitual readers of poetry. The success of his Collected Poems, published by John Murray in 1958, gained further éclat from being compared with the similar furore produced by the publication of Byron, also by John Murray, over a hundred years before. Thirty-odd years after his death his work seems of renewed importance. Both the notion of Englishness he so cherished and the landscape and architecture he so vehemently worked to protect have become once again a vital matter, far from merely nostalgic, in renewed agitation about preservation of heritage and a renewed debate about ‘Englishness’.