Jenny Joseph

Jenny Joseph Poems

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.

The sun has burst the sky
Because I love you
And the river its banks.

Jenny Joseph Biography

Jenny Joseph (born 7 May 1932) is an English poet. She was born in Birmingham, and with a scholarship, studied English literature at St Hilda's College, Oxford (1950) . Her poems were first published when she was at university in the early 1950s. She became a journalist and worked for the Bedfordshire Times, the Oxford Mail and Drum Publications (Johannesburg, South Africa) . Joseph's best known poem, 'Warning', was written in 1961 and is included in her 1974 collection Rose In the Afternoon and The Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse. 'Warning' was identified as the UK's 'most popular post-war poem' in a 1996 poll by the BBC. The second line was the inspiration for the Red Hat Society. Due to its popularity, an illustrated gift edition of 'Warning', first published by Souvenir Press Ltd in 1997, has now been reprinted 41 times. Her first book of poems, 'The Unlooked-for Season' won a Gregory Award in 1960 and she won a Cholmondeley Award for her second collection, 'Rose in the Afternoon' in 1974.)

The Best Poem Of Jenny Joseph


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph Comments

Terri-marie Newland 18 January 2007

I just want to comment to the post below. im studying GCSE literature, including Jenny Joseph's Warning. and your ideas on it been a social cult was totally wrong. the idea that these women took the symbolisynesm to wear red hats and purple clothes is their intake on the poem. but Joseph herself meant something entirelly diffrent. in my opinion (and maybe you dont care as in only 15) you should analyse poems alot more and learn their intentions to what people graps for them, before you start making assumptions into what quite clearly is a fantastic poem.

26 14 Reply
Claire Thomas 13 April 2013

Great poem.I nurse patients with dementia and recognise this attitude to life.They are great and thats what keeps them going!

26 10 Reply
Carol Woodward 27 December 2012

What a brilliant poem. I intend to do just that! Bring on the purple!

22 11 Reply
Karen Sinclair 02 October 2012

Just perfect...... really, that she should dream after a life of restrictions and following societies rules and restraints, she looks forward to age as an excuse to finally express herself.....amazing write which made me smile and giggle and also made me sigh a sigh of relief that my parents at least gave me the confidence to wear what i want and express myself from an early age....

20 13 Reply
Ivory ... 06 April 2005

When I become an old woman and u see me wearing PuRpLe (! ! !) , let it be known that it was this very poem that inspired me! ! !

26 5 Reply
James G Brennan. 29 May 2020

This poem made me smile loads.

1 0 Reply
Adeeb Alfateh 09 June 2019

one of the best poetess of the world

3 0 Reply
Jasmine 24 July 2018

You are the best at being good at. Atin.

3 1 Reply
Anita 02 May 2018

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2 1 Reply
Sandy Goforth 04 January 2018

How do I get permission to reprint her poem When I Am Old in my book?

8 1 Reply

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