Edgell Rickword (John Edgell Rickword) Biography
(1898–1982), (John Edgell Rickword), Behind the Eyes, Rimbaud: The Boy and the Poet
British poet and critic, born in Colchester, Essex, educated at Pembroke College, Oxford. His experience of active service on the Western Front from 1916 to 1918 is reflected in numerous poems in Behind the Eyes (1921), his first volume of verse. During the early 1920s he established his reputation as a critic through his contributions to leading literary periodicals. His Rimbaud: The Boy and the Poet (1924) was the first authoritative treatment of that author to be published in Britain. From 1925 to 1927 he co-edited, with Douglas Garman, The Calendar of Modern Letters. He compiled two volumes of Scrutinies (1928, 1931), a series of essays from the journal which preceded F. R. Leavis's Scrutiny and influenced the latter in the development of his critical practices. Increasingly political in his cultural attitudes, Rickword was subsequently editor of The Left Review from 1934 to 1938 and of Our Time between 1944 and 1947. He published two further collections of verse, Invocation to Angels (1928), which contains his finest work, and the predominantly satirical Twittingpan and Some Others (1931). The technical refinement and concentrated fusions of thought and feeling in his best verse recall the work of Donne and Marvell while remaining distinctly individual in tone. Behind the Eyes: Collected Poems and Translations appeared in 1976. Two volumes of his Essays and Opinions (1974, 1978) were edited by A. Young. There is a biography by Charles Hobday entitled Edgell Rickword: A Poet at War (1989). His Collected Poems (1991) were edited by Charles Hobday.