Rosemary Tonks Biography

Rosemary Tonks (born 1932) is an English author and poet. She disappeared from the public eye after her conversion to Fundamentalist Christianity in the 1970s, and nothing is known about her life since.

Early life

Rosemary Tonks was born in London and educated at Wentworth School, London. Expelled in 1948, she published a children's story in the same year. She married at age 19, and the couple moved to Karachi, where she began to write poetry. Attacks of typhoid and polio forced a return to England. She later lived briefly in Paris.


Tonks worked for the BBC, writing stories and reviewing poetry for the BBC European Service. She published poems in collections and The Observer, the New Statesman, Transatlantic Review, London Magazine, Encounter and Poetry Review, she read on the BBC's "Third Programme". She also wrote "poetic novels".

Her work appears in many anthologies, including Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry (ed. Keith Tuma), Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse, British Poetry since 1945 and The Firebox: Poetry in Britain and Ireland after 1945 (ed. Sean O'Brien).

Tonks stopped publishing poetry in the early 1970s, at about the same time as her conversion to a form of Christianity. Nothing is known publicly about her subsequent life. As Andrew Motion wrote in 2004, she "Disappeared! What happened? Because I admire her poems, I've been trying to find out for years... no trace of her seems to survive - apart from the writing she left behind." The Anthology of Twentieth-Century British and Irish Poetry, which published three of Tonks' poems in 2001, states that permission to use her poems was obtained from a literary agency, Sheil Land Associates, Ltd. A BBC Radio 4 Documentary aired on March 29, 2009 stated that Tonks had disappeared from public view and now lives a hermetic existence, refusing telephone and personal calls from friends, family and the media.

Popular Poems