Robert Gittings (Robert William Victor Gittings) Biography
(1911–92), (Robert William Victor Gittings), Wentworth Place, Famous Meetings, This Tower My Prison, American Journey
British biographer and poet, born in Portsmouth, educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he was a supervisor in History from 1933 to 1940. He subsequently worked as a writer and producer with the BBC and became a freelance writer in 1963. His earlier collections of poetry include Wentworth Place (1952), the title sequence of which centres on incidents during the latter part of John Keats's life, and Famous Meetings (1953), which recreates encounters between historical personages; both make imaginative use of dramatic monologue forms. Among his further collections are This Tower My Prison (1961) and American Journey (1972), which contains ‘In Memoriam of John Berryman’, one of the finest tributes to that poet. A Collected Poems was produced in 1976. Although Gittings's poetry sustains a high level of technical competence and interest, his achievements as a biographer are more highly valued. John Keats (1968), Young Thomas Hardy (1975), and The Older Hardy (1979) have earned him wide recognition as one of the most eminent of modern literary biographers; Claire Clairmont and the Shelleys (1992) was written with his wife, Jo Manton. The Makers of Violence (1951) and Out of This Wood (1955) are amongst his plays.