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P. J. Kavanagh (Patrick Joseph Gregory Kavanagh) Biography

(1931– ), (Patrick Joseph Gregory Kavanagh), One and One, The Perfect Stranger, Edward Thomas in Heaven

British poet and novelist, born in Worthing, educated at Merton College, Oxford. He lectured in Barcelona and Jakarta in the 1950s; from 1959 to 1970 he worked as an actor. One and One, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1960. The Perfect Stranger (1966), his prize-winning autobiography, is an account of his life until 1958, when his first wife Sally, the daughter of Rosamond Lehmann, died unexpectedly of poliomyelitis in Java; it was widely acclaimed for its remarkable fusion of humour and moving forthrightness. Numerous further collections of Kavanagh's poetry include Edward Thomas in Heaven (1974), Life before Death (1979), Presence (1987), and An Enchantment (1991). His verse displays an overall development from the more descriptive and discursive modes of earlier work towards the humanity and imaginative breadth which increasingly characterized his work from the mid-1970s. Collected Poems was published in 1992. Kavanagh's novels, A Song and Dance (1968), A Happy Man (1972), People and Weather (1979), and Only by Mistake (1986), have enjoyed popular and critical success. Among his other prose works are Finding Connections (1990), an account of his travels in Australia and New Zealand in the course of investigating his family's past, into which much personal retrospection is woven. People and Places (1978) is a wide-ranging collection of essays. His works as editor include Collected Poems of Ivor Gurney (1982), The Bodley Head G. K. Chesterton (1985), and A Book of Consolations (1992). He has also worked as a broadcaster and written documentary dramas for television, including ‘William Cowper Lived Here’ (1971). Voices in Ireland: A Traveller's Literary Companion appeared in 1994.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Tama Janowitz Biography to P(atrick) J(oseph Gregory) Kavanagh Biography