John Heath-Stubbs

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John Heath Stubbs,poet, photographed in 1994
John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs OBE (1918–2006) was a poet and translator, known for his verse influenced by classical myths, and the long Arthurian poem Artorius (1972). He was gay.[1]


Heath-Stubbs was born in Streatham,[1] and educated at Bembridge School and Queen's College, Oxford. He co-edited Eight Oxford Poets in 1941, and helped edit Oxford Poetry in 1942–43. He held the Gregory Fellowship of Poetry at Leeds University (1952–55) and he had professorships in Alexandria (1955–58) and Ann Arbor, Michigan (1960-61). He taught at the College of St Mark and St John in Chelsea (1962–72), as well as at Merton College, Oxford for twenty years from 1972. He lived for a time in the 1950s at Zennor in Cornwall. He translated, among others, Sappho, Horace, Catullus, Hafiz, Verlaine, and most notably Giacomo Leopardi. He was a representative figure of British poetry in the early 1950s, editing the poetry anthology Images of Tomorrow (1953) and, with David Wright, the Faber Book of Twentieth Century Verse, among others. He was elected to the Royal Society of Literature in 1954, awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 1973, and appointed OBE in 1989. Although afflicted by blindness from the 1960s, and completely without sight from 1978, he continued to write almost to the end.

Ibycus: A Poem by John Heath-Stubbs, documentary film was made by the Chilean director Carlos Klein in 1997.

Writing style

His diction was strong, yet subtle. Running through his work, like that of most romantic poets, was a nostalgia for 'classicism'. He was consciously literary, and his work was elaborately wrought rather than spontaneous, so it was not the kind of poetry likely to have mass appeal. However, his devotion to the craft of poetry makes his work impressive. Few writers of his time had a deeper knowledge of the English language, or cared for it more devotedly.[2]


There is a City of Westminster plaque to him in Artesian Road, Notting Hill.[1]

External links


Adapted from a Wikipedia article.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "John Heath-Stubbs", London Remembers.
  2. Edward Lucie-Smith in British Poetry since 1945.