sir john bejeman

All About Sir John Betjeman

John Betjeman

sir john bejemanSir John Betjeman was Poet Laureate from 1972 till his death in 1984. When his Collected Poems (John Murray) came out in 1958 they made publishing history and have since sold over two and a quarter million copies. Apart from his poetry he wrote and edited The Shell County Guides for over thirty years, wrote the Collins Guide to English Parish Churches and also wrote a further forty topographical and architectural books. Betjeman’s architectural interests were far ranging – from the early stone dwellings on St Kilda to the brick galleries of Jim Stirling. Among the buildings he fought to save from destruction were St Pancras and Liverpool Street stations. He encouraged people to look at unregarded buildings, to notice their ‘indeterminate beauty’. Betjeman made over 500 television programmes of which 26 were films for Shell in the ‘Discovering Britain’ series. Betjeman’s celebration of ‘place’ has inspired the theme of the John Betjeman Poetry Competition. We do not know what will capture each young person’s imagination. It may not be the churches, cliff tops, suburban streets and tea shops of Betjeman’s poetry. It may be the urban view from their window, the walk to school through the park, the local river, the library, their friend’s bedroom or simply the space inside the back of the bus. We cannot prescribe what children see but we can encourage them to look.

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