George Macbeth (George Mann MacBeth) Biography
(1932–92), (George Mann MacBeth), The Broken Places, The Night of Stones, The Burning Cone
British poet and novelist, born in Shotts, Lanarkshire and brought up in Yorkshire, educated at New College, Oxford. He was a producer of features on poetry and the arts for BBC radio, a teacher, and broadcaster. A member of the Group in the late 1950s, MacBeth's early work, most substantially represented in The Broken Places (1963), showed great accomplishment in the adaptation of conventional techniques. In subsequent collections, including The Night of Stones (1969), The Burning Cone (1970), and The Orlando Poems (1971), he experimented widely with innovative forms and procedures, and was associated in the later 1960s with the growth of interest in ‘performance poetry’. Reflecting on MacBeth's stature as a seminal experimenter, Peter Porter referred to him as ‘the most inventive poet of his generation in Britain’. Among his later collections, which display a gradual return to traditional modes, are Poems of Love and Death (1980), The Cleaver Gardens (1986), Anatomy of a Divorce (1988), Collected Poems 1958–1982 (1989), and Trespassing (1991). Although MacBeth has ranged widely through the possibilities of poetic practice, his work's engagement with primal areas of experience, notably death, sex, power, and vulnerability, has remained constant throughout his career; his poetry's capacity to disturb is more than matched by its honesty and individuality of tone. His numerous novels, which have thematic similarities with his verse, include The Samurai (1976), The Seven Witches (1978), and Anna's Book (1983). MacBeth has also produced a volume of autobiography entitled A Child of the War (1987) and edited numerous works including The Penguin Book of Victorian Verse (1969). See also underground poetry.