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In the Graveyard of Verse

William Wootten: Vernon Watkins

9 August 2001
The Collected Poems of Vernon​ Watkins 
Golgonooza, 495 pp., £16.95, October 2000, 0 903880 73 3Show More
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... Some writers attract faint praise. VernonWatkins is more damned by it than most: he is the serene Watkins, walking the Gower peninsula in a cloud of unworldly Christianity, Yeats and (very) late Symbolism; he is also the worthy Watkins, the man who spent his adult life working in a bank, refusing all ...


Denis Donoghue

21 June 1984
Selected Essays 
by John Bayley.
Cambridge, 217 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 521 25828 6
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Collected Poems: 1941-1983 
by Michael Hamburger.
Carcanet, 383 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 9780856354977
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Poems: 1953-1983 
by Anthony Thwaite.
Secker, 201 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 436 52151 2
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... Hamburger knows that his words have come a long way and what they don’t need now is to be put through antic paces. In such poems I am reminded of Hamburger’s friends, Edwin Muir, David Gascoyne, VernonWatkins and Robert Francis, poets whose common styles share the knowledge of what words have gone through. What such knowledge proposes is patience, certainly not the petulance in which Hamburger ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton

22 October 1992
The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... some toning down. After all, this is merely a Selected Letters and there are over three hundred [...]’s sprinkled throughout. Apart from Thwaite himself, the few who are spared include figures like VernonWatkins, Gavin Ewart, Barbara Pym: allies who are genuinely liked and admired but who are nonetheless junior to Larkin in talent and repute. The really big hates tend to be reserved for sizable ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams

7 September 2016
Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... of romantic love or his celebration of the Way of Affirmation proliferate in Eliot, Lewis, Auden and Dorothy L. Sayers’s translation of and notes on Dante. He also had an influence on Sidney Keyes, VernonWatkins, Anne Ridler and Norman Nicholson, and on the undergraduate Philip Larkin, who admired his lecturer’s novels. Victor Gollancz and L.H. Myers, both given to occult speculations, were fans of ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment

20 November 2014
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
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Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
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Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
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A Dylan Thomas Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
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... naughty and incorrigible. ‘He was a bugger for wine gums,’ a schoolfriend said of his gifts as a shoplifter. I think the apogee of his dreadfulness was his failure to show up at the wedding of VernonWatkins, one of his most supportive and devoted friends, to whom he was meant to be best man. His belated letter of apology – written in what Grigson described as his ‘pre-adolescent ...

A Terrible Thing, Thank God

Adam Phillips: Dylan Thomas

4 March 2004
Dylan Thomas: A New Life 
by Andrew Lycett.
Weidenfeld, 434 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 297 60793 6
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... desperately to get back to Caitlin and the children, but doing whatever he can to delay his return. He didn’t want to be marooned, but he needed a pretext to leave. His close friend, the poet VernonWatkins, said that he would always ‘walk up to the tallest man in uniform in the pub and insult him, his country and the war so grossly that almost inevitably a fight developed’. He would do what ...

The Excursions

Andrew O’Hagan

16 June 2011
... a few years ago for Mrs Eliot, and Seamus went as the representative poet. Some knight or other was giving a speech and he said that Eliot wasn’t the only poet ever to work for Lloyds. Cardiff’s VernonWatkins gave a lot of time to his writing but refused to take days off, preferring to come to his desk. Then again, the gentleman said, ‘Watkins was a branch man and Eliot was very much head office ...

Plot 6, Row C, Grave 15

Malcolm Gaskill: Death of an Airman

8 November 2018
... order to engage the enemy. His plane was either hit by anti-aircraft fire or attacked in the air – a letter dropped by the Austrians stated simply that he and his observer, 2nd Lieutenant William Watkins, had been niedergeschossen and were dead. Whether they were killed instantly or died of wounds is unclear. In October 1918 two periodicals devoted to the new art of aviation, the Aeroplane and Flight ...

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