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Christopher Hassall (Christopher Vernon Hassall) Biography

(1912–63), (Christopher Vernon Hassall), Glamorous Night, Crisis, S.O.S.—Ludlow

poet produced biographer librettist

British poet, librettist, and biographer, born in London, educated at Wadham College, Oxford; he subsequently became an actor. He produced highly accomplished lyrics for Ivor Novello's compositions, and gained financial success with their first musical, Glamorous Night (1939). His reputation as a poet increased with three sonnet sequences (Crisis, 1939; S.O.S.—Ludlow, 1940; and The Slow Night, 1949) drawing on his experiences of active service during the Second World War. The poems of The Red Leaf (1957) encompass a wide range of discursive and dramatically effective modes. The forty sonnets which form the title sequence of Bell Harry (1963) combine topographical and contemplative elements in an extended elegy on the death of his friend Frances Cornford. As a librettist, he produced texts for William Walton's Troilus and Cressida (1954) and Prokofiev's The Fiery Angel (1965). Among his verse-dramas are Christ's Comet (1937) and The Player King (1953). Hassall's works as a biographer include Edward Marsh (1959); he had been encouraged by Marsh early in his career as a poet. His other biographies include Rupert Brooke (1964).

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