Elizabeth Jennings

Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001). Courtesy PoemHunter.

Elizabeth Joan Jennings (18 July 1926 - 26 October 2001) was an English poet associated with literary group The Movement.[1]


Youth and education Edit

Jennings was born in Boston, Lincolnshire. When she was six, her family moved to Oxford, where she remained for the rest of her life.[2]

She attended St Anne's College, Oxford. After graduation, she became a librarian at Oxford's City Library.[3]

Career Edit

Jennings' early poetry was published in journals such as Oxford Poetry, New English Weekly, The Spectator, Outposts and Poetry Review, but her debut collection was not published until she was 27.

Her second book, A Way of Looking, won the Somerset Maugham award and marked a turning point, as the prize money allowed her to spend nearly 3 months in Rome, which was a revelation. It brought a new dimension to her religious belief and inspired her imagination.[2]

She died in a care home in Bampton, Oxfordshire, and is buried in Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford.


Regarded as traditionalist rather than an innovator, Jennings is known for her lyric poetry and mastery of form.[2] Her work displays a simplicity of meter and rhyme shared with Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and Thom Gunn, all members of the group of English poets known as The Movement.[2] Jennings always made it clear that, whilst her life, which included a spell of severe mental illness, contributed to the themes contained within her work, she did not write explicitly autobiographical poetry. Her deeply held Roman Catholicism coloured much of her work.[2]

The lyrical poets she cited as having influenced her were Hopkins, Auden, Graves and Muir.[2]


  • 1953: Arts Council of Great Britain Prize for the best first book of poems for Poems
  • 1955: Somerset Maugham Prize for A Way of Looking.[2]
  • 1987: W.H. Smith Literary Award for Collected Poems 1953–1985
  • 1992: Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
  • 2001: Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Durham University



  • Poems. Swinford, Eynsham, UK: Fantasy Press, 1953.
  • A Way of Looking. London: André Deutsch, 1955.
  • The Child and the Seashell. San Francisco, CA: Poems in Folio, 1957.
  • A Sense of the World. London: André Deutsch, 1958.
  • Song For a Birth or a Death, and other poems. London: André Deutsch, 1961.
  • Penguin Modern Poets 1 (by Lawrence Durrell, Elizabeth Jennings, & R.S. Thomas). Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1962.
  • Recoveries. London: André Deutsch, 1964.
  • Christian Poetry. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1965.
  • The Mind has Mountains. London: Macmillan, 1966.
  • Collected Poems, 1967. London: Macmillan, 1967; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1967.
  • The Animals' Arrival. London: Macmillan, 1969.
  • Lucidities: Poems. London: Macmillan, 1970.
  • Relationships. London: Macmillan, 1972.
  • Growing-Points: New poems. Cheadle, UK: Carcanet, 1975.
  • Consequently I Rejoice. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1977.
  • Selected Poems of Elizabeth Jennings. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1979.
  • Moments of Grace. Manchester: Carcanet, 1979.
  • Winter Wind (illustrated by Monica Poole). Newark, VT: Janus Press, 1979.
  • Celebrations and Elegies. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1982.
  • Extending the Territory. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1985.
  • Collected Poems 1953-1985. Manchester, UK, & New York: Carcanet, 1986.
  • Tributes. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1989.
  • Times and Seasons. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1992.
  • Familiar Spirits. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1994.
  • In the Meantime. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1996.
  • Praises. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1998.
  • Timely Issues. Manchester. UK: Carcanet, 2001.
  • New Collected Poems (edited by Michael Schmidt). Manchester: Carcanet, 2002.
  • Elizabeth Jennings: The Collected Poems (edited by Emma Mason). Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 2012.


  • Every Changing Shape: Mystical Experience and the Making of Poems. London: André Deutsch, 1961; Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1996.
  • Poetry Today, 1957-1960. London: British Council / Longmans, Green, 1961.
  • Frost (Robert Frost). Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1964.
  • Christianity and Poetry. London: Burns & Oates, 1965.
  • Reaching into Silence: A study of eight twentieth-century visionaries. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1977.[4]
  • Seven Men of Vision: An appreciation. London: Vision Press, 1976; New York: Barnes & Noble, 1976.


  • Let's Have Some Poetry! (illustrated by Peter Roberson). London: Museum Press, 1960.
  • The Secret Brother, and other poems for children (illustrated by Meg Stevens). London: Macmillan, 1966; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1966.
  • After the Ark. Oxford, UK, & New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
  • A Spell of Words: Selected poems for children. London: Macmillan, 1998.


  • The Sonnets of Michelangelo. London: Folio Society, 1961; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.


  • The Batsford Book of Children's Verse (illustrated). London: Batsford, 1958.w
  • An Anthology of Modern Verse, 1940-1960. London: Methuen, 1961.
  • Wuthering Heights and Selected Poems by Emily Brontë. London: Pan Books, 1967.
  • A Choice of Christina Rossetti's Verse. London: Faber, 1970.
  • The Batsford Book of Religious Verse. London: Batsford, 1981.
  • A Poet's Choice. Manchester: Carcanet, 1996.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[5]

See alsoEdit

Dust by Elizabeth Jennings (HD)-0

Dust by Elizabeth Jennings (HD)-0




  1. Elizabeth Jennings obituary, The Guardian, October 31, 2001. Web, Feb. 1, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Couzyn, Jeni (1985) Contemporary Women Poets. Bloodaxe, pp. 98-100. Print.
  3. Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001), The Poetry Archive. Web, Feb. 1, 2014.
  4. Search results = Reaching into Silence + Jennings, Abe Books. Web, Feb. 1, 2014.
  5. Search results = au:Elizabeth Jennings, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Feb. 1, 2014.

External linksEdit

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