Geoffrey Grigson

(2 March 1905 – 25 November 1985 / Pelynt, Cornwall)

Biography of Geoffrey Grigson

Geoffrey Grigson poet

Geoffrey Edward Harvey Grigson was a British writer. He was born in Pelynt, a village near Looe in Cornwall.


Geoffrey Grigson was born in 1905, the youngest of seven sons of the Rev. Canon William Shuckforth Grigson (1845-1930), a Norfolk clergyman who had settled in Cornwall as vicar of Pelynt, and Mary Beatrice Boldero, herself the daughter of a clergyman. The inscription on his father's slate headstone in Pelynt churchyard is the work of Eric Gill, 1931. Five of Grigson's six brothers died serving in the first and second world wars, among them John Grigson. This was one of the highest prices paid by any British family during the conflicts of the twentieth century. Grigson's one surviving brother Wilfrid Grigson also died in an air accident in 1948, while serving as Commissioner for Refugees in Pakistan.

Grigson was educated at St John's School, Leatherhead and at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. He first came to prominence in the 1930s as a poet, then as editor from 1933 of the influential poetry magazine New Verse. Fiercely combative, he made many literary enemies for his dogmatic views.

At various times he was involved in teaching, journalism and broadcasting. During World War II he worked in the editorial department of the BBC Monitoring Service at Wood Norton near Evesham.

Later in life he was a noted critic, reviewer (for the New York Review of Books in particular), and compiler of numerous poetry anthologies. He published 13 collections of poetry, and wrote on travel, on art (notably works on Samuel Palmer, Wyndham Lewis and Henry Moore), on the English countryside, and on botany among other subjects.

Geoffrey Grigson in his later life lived partly in Wiltshire, England and partly in Trôo, a village in the Loir-et-Cher département in France which features in his poetry. He died in Wiltshire in 1985.


Geoffrey Grigson's first wife was Frances Galt (who died in 1937 of tuberculosis). With her, he founded New Verse. They had one daughter, Caroline (who was married to the designer Colin Banks). His second marriage was to Berta (Bertschy) Emma Kunert, who bore him two children, Anna and Lionel Grigson, the jazz musician and educator. Following their divorce, his third and last marriage was to Jane Grigson, née McIntire (1928-90), the writer on food and cookery. Their daughter is the cookery writer Sophie Grigson.

Geoffrey Grigson's Works:

The Arts To-day (1935), editor.
Several Observations (Cresset Press, 1939), poems.
Under the Cliff, and Other Poems (Routledge, 1943).
Henry Moore (Penguin, 1944).
Visionary Poems and Passages or The Poet's Eye (Frederick Muller, 1944), editor. Lithographs by John Craxton.
Wild Flowers in Britain (William Collins, 1944).
The Isles of Scilly and Other Poems (Routledge, 1946).
The Mint: a Miscellany of Literature, Art and Criticism (George Routledge & Sons, 1946).
Before the Romantics: an Anthology of the Enlightenment (Routledge & Sons, 1946), editor.
Samuel Palmer: the Visionary Years (Kegan Paul, 1947).
Wild Flowers in Britain (Collins, 1947).
John Craxton. Paintings and Drawings (Horizon, 1948).
Poems of John Clare's Madness (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949), editor.
Poetry of the Present: an Anthology of the 'Thirties and After (Phoenix House, 1949), editor.
The Crest on the Silver: an Autobiography (Cresset Press, 1950).
The Victorians: an Anthology (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1950).
Festival of Britain 'About Britain' Guides (Collins, 1951), general editor.
Thornton's Temple of Flora (Collins, 1951).
Essays From the Air: 29 Broadcast Talks (1951).
A Master of Our Time: a Study of Wyndham Lewis (Methuen, 1951).
Gardenage, or the Plants of Ninhursaga (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1952).
Freedom of the Parish (Phoenix House, 1954). (About Pelynt, Cornwall.)
The Englishman's Flora (Phoenix House, 1955).
The Shell Guide to Flowers of the Countryside (Phoenix House, 1955).
The Shell Guide to Trees and Shrubs (Phoenix House, 1958).
English Villages in Colour (Batsford, 1958).
The Three Kings: a Christmas Book of Carols, Poems and Pieces (Gordon Fraser, 1958), editor.
The Shell Guide to Wild Life (Phoenix, 1959).
Looking and Finding (John Baker, 1958).
A Herbal of All Sorts (Macmillan, 1959).
The Cherry Tree (Phoenix House, 1959), poems.
English Excursions (Country Life, 1960).
Samuel Palmer's Valley of Vision (Phoenix House, 1960).
The Shell Country Book (Phoenix House, 1962).
Poets in Their Pride (Dent, 1962).
Gerard Manley Hopkins (Longmans, Green & Co., 1962).
Collected Poems 1924-1962 (Phoenix House, 1963).
O Rare Mankind! (Phoenix House, 1963).
The Shell Nature Book (Phoenix House, 1964).
Shapes and Stories [with Jane Grigson] (Readers Union, 1965).
The Shell Country Alphabet (Michael Joseph, 1966).
William Allingham's Diary (Centaur Press, 1967).
A Skull in Salop, and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1967).
An Ingestion of Ice Cream and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1969).
Shapes and People - A Book about Pictures (J. Baker, 1969).
Poems and Poets (Macmillan, 1969).
Notes from an Odd Country (Macmillan, 1970).
The Concise Encyclopedia of Modern World Literature (Hawthorn Books, 1970), editor.
The Faber Book of Popular Verse (1971), editor.
Discoveries of Bones and Stones (Macmillan Poets; Macmillan, 1971).
Sad Grave of an Imperial Mongoose (Macmillan, 1973), poems.
The Faber Book of Love Poems (Faber & Faber, 1973), editor.
The Faber Book of Popular Verse (Faber & Faber, 1973), editor.
The First Folio (Poem of the Month Club, 1973).
The Contrary View: Glimpses of Fudge and Gold (Macmillan, 1974).
A Dictionary of English Plant Names (and some products of plants) (Allen Lane, 1974).
Angles and Circles and Other Poems (Gollancz, 1974).
Britain Observed: the Landscape Through Artists' Eyes (1975).
The Penguin Book of Ballads (Penguin, 1975), editor.
The Faber Book of Epigrams and Epitaphs (1977), editor.
The Goddess of Love: The Birth, Triumph, Death and Return of Aphrodite (Quartet, 1978).
The Faber Book of Epigrams and Epitaphs (Faber & Faber, 1978).
The Faber Book of Nonsense Verse: With a Sprinkling of Nonsense Prose (Faber & Faber, 1979) editor.
The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse (Oxford University Press, 1980), editor.
The Penguin Book of Unrespectable Verse (Penguin, 1980), editor.
The Faber Book of Poems and Places (Faber & Faber, 1980), editor.
History of Him (Secker & Warburg, 1980), poems.
Blessings, Kicks and Curses: a critical collection (Allison & Busby, 1982).
Collected Poems 1963-1980 (Allison & Busby, 1982).
The Private Art: a Poetry Notebook (Allison & Busby, 1982).
The Cornish Dancer and Other Poems (Secker & Warburg, 1982).
Geoffrey Grigson's Countryside (Ebury Press, 1982).
Recollections, Mainly of Writers and Artists (Hogarth Press, 1984).
The English Year from Diaries and Letters (Oxford Paperbacks, 1984).
The Faber Book of Reflective Verse (Faber & Faber, 1984), editor.
Country Writings (Century, 1984).
Montaigne's Tower and Other Poems (Secker & Warbury, 1984).
Persephone's Flowers and Other Poems (David & Charles, 1986).

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Two Are Together

Two are together, I tell you,
A slope of a vowel, are a corner;
Grass short as a garden,
Foxgloves, water
Quartz in a stone.