Carol Ann Duffy
Born on 23rd of December 1955
British hero of the week May 3rd 2009
Though a generation of schoolchildren was already aware of her work – some of her poems have been studied at GCSE and A Level since the mid-90s – it has taken her appointment as Poet Laureate to bring Carol Ann Duffy to the wider nation’s attention. Had she rather than Andrew Motion won the honour in 1998, as many expected, we would have had our first female, first Scottish, and first openly bisexual poet laureate a decade sooner.
Born in Glasgow in 1955, Duffy was brought up in Stafford, attending Stafford Girls’ High School. She has frequently acknowledged the support and significance of various teachers in her artistic development. At Liverpool University she studied philosophy; though she had it seems determined on a career, or at least life, as a poet in her schooldays.
In Liverpool Adrian Henri was a major influence, and like him Duffy enjoys giving performances of her works, sometimes in collaboration with musicians. Six years after graduating from University, her work until then mainly seen in pamphlets and newsletters, Duffy won the 1983 National Poetry Competition, and she was taken on by a publisher. Awards from the Society of Authors and a Cecil Day Lewis Fellowship supported her during her early years as a poet, indeed she has a huge list of prizes in her CV, including the TS Eliot Prize in 2005 for Rapture.
When Duffy had her daughter she was inspired to write more for children, her output including plays and picture books as well as children’s poetry. This creativity across genres was not new, however, as she had written plays as well as verse from her early days as an author, some performed at London’s Almeida Theatre, and again a Liverpool connection, at the Playhouse in that city. She currently lives in Manchester.
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