Alec Derwent Hope

(1907 - 2000)

Biography of Alec Derwent Hope

Alec Derwent Hope poet

A D Hope was born in Cooma, New South Wales in 1907 and was educated at Sydney and Oxford Universities. He lectured at the University of Melbourne from 1945 to 1950,eventually moveing to Canberra, where he was foundation professor of English at Canberra University College, later to become the Australian National University, until 1969. He was instrumental in launching the first full university course in Australian literature.

At the age of 8 he wrote his first poem for his mother's birthday. His first collection of poems, The Wandering Islands, was published in 1955. He went on to produce more than a dozen volumes each of poetry and criticism, winning many literature prizes and honours in Australia and, as his reputation grew, internationally. He was awarded an OBE in 1972, was made an AO in 1981 and was awarded four honorary degrees by Australian universities.

Many considered AD Hope to have been an often controversial figure who used an erudite mind and a wicked wit to devastating effect as a critic. Critics of his work, however, found a romantic and passionate impulse within the formal constraints of some of his poetry. David Brooks, who edited AD Hope's most recent edition of poetry, considered that some of his poems were among the strongest poems ever written by an Australian,real praise indeed.

When AD Hope retired from the Australian National University in 1969, the university gave him a fellowship and a room to allow him tocontinue on with his writing, which he did, producing numerous poems, critical essays and plays. AD Hope soldiered on alone for many years after the loss of his wife Penelope in 1988, but eventually moved into a nursing home where he suffered a series of very debilitating strokes.

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