OverviewBerowne's Book was written by U. A. Fanthorpe before she began to write the poetry that was to make her reputation as one of England's most popular contemporary poets. "In 1974, having found that the way to get a job was to conceal my qualifications," she wrote, "I contrived to be taken on as a clerk/receptionist in a small hospital." As a patient at the Radcliffe when she was a student at Oxford, she'd formed a cheerful view of life in a hospital, but a neuro-psychiatric hospital provided very different experiences. It was the shock of discovering this that tipped her over into poetry. "Poetry" she said, "struck during my first month behind the desk." With Berowne's Book she had already written a witty commentary on what she saw around her as she typed. Her observations are accompanied here by some of her very earliest poems. Hilarious, tender, profound and deeply humane, this series of snapshots of hospital life in the 1970s shocks partly because so much is immediately familiar today.
Reviews"U.A. Fanthorpe is an extraordinary poet, one of the best of our 20th and 21st centuries. So quietly that we didn't notice what was happening, her poetry changed the way we see, the way we write." —Gillian Clarke
"At once consoling and surprising, and heart-warmingly generous in her sympathy with the human condition." —Andrew Motion
"The peerless U.A. Fanthorpe roots herself in the very earth of English poetry, connecting herself to Hughes and Browning, but also and more pertinently to the real experience of English living…so clear-eyed and so, well completely poetic." —Stephen Fry
Author BiographyR. V. Bailey has published five poetry collections: Course Work, Marking Time, Credentials, From Me To You (written with her long-term partner U. A. Fanthorpe), and The Losing Game. U. A. Fanthorpe (1929-2009) was born in Kent and read English at St Anne's College, Oxford, before training as a teacher. She 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. Her eight volumes of poetry were all published by Peterloo, and her Selected Poems was published by Penguin in 1986. Enitharmon Press publish her Christmas Poems and From Me to You, love poems by Fanthorpe and R. V. Bailey. In 1994 U. A. Fanthorpe was the first woman to be nominated for the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford. She was awarded the CBE in 2001 and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2003, when her Collected Poems were published. In 2010 Enitharmon published her definitive volume New and Collected Poems which features a preface by The Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.