Cliff Ashby Biography
(1919– ), In the Vulgar Tongue, The Dogs of Dewsbury, Lies and Dreams
British poet and novelist, born in Norfolk; he left school at the age of 14 to work as a window-dresser in Leeds. He was subsequently employed in a variety of agricultural and clerical capacities in Yorkshire and London. In the Vulgar Tongue (1968), his first collection of poetry, was followed by The Dogs of Dewsbury (1976) and Lies and Dreams (1980). Much of Ashby's poetry presents versions of his autobiographical and observational experience of the Leeds area with a compelling unsentimentality and documentary vividness. A dourly humorous disenchantment contributes to the remarkable levelness of tone common to harrowingly personal poems and scathing reflections on the spiritual bankruptcy of modern existence. Plain Song: Collected Poems appeared in 1985. His uncompromising concern with the quality of life is also evident in his two novels, The Old Old Story and How and Why, both of which appeared in 1969.