In 1995 I decided to write a series of poems all connected to Blankney village and which I called 'Blankney Anthology'. When I started writing a blog I felt it would be appropriate to include the poems as articles. Since the blog started on 1 January this year, I have included twenty poems in all, publishing roughly one a week. There were in fact twenty one poems in the Blankney Anthology, however, one entitled Blankney Guy Fawkes seems to have been mislaid. If at some point it turns up I will publish it. Meanwhile, as poetry is one of my great passions I would like to continue to publish some 'real poetry' in the Journal. My favourite poet is John Betjeman and therefore I have chosen his poems to publish, on average about one each week. As an introduction I have put together a short article about Betjeman, who I like to think of as a storyteller as well as a poet. I hope his poetry will give Journal readers a lot of pleasure.
When John Betjeman's 'Collected Poems' came out in 1958 they made publishing history and have since sold over two and a quarter million copies.
But Betjeman was not only a poet. Through his broadcasting and journalism he opened peoples eyes to the value of the buildings and landscape around them and became Btitain's grand champion of its heritage.
Sir John Betjeman was born in August 1906. He was an English poet, writer and broadcaster. His parents Ernest and Mabel ran a family firm manufacturing ornamental household furniture. Early schooling at Byron House and Highgate School led him to preparatory school in North Oxford and Marlborough College in Wiltshire. He entered Oxford University as a commoner at Magdalen College. Never a great scholar Betjeman left Oxford without a degree and worked briefly as a private secretary, school teacher and film critic for the Evening Standard.
In 1933 Betjeman married the Hon. Penelope Chetwood. The couple lived in Berkshire and had a son Paul and a daughter Paula (better known as Candida). Rejected for service in World War II he became British press attache in Dublin, Ireland.
By 1951 his marriage to Penelope was breaking down and he met Lady Elizabeth Cavendish who was to become his lifelong friend. His poetry was becoming hugely popular and in 1969 he was awarded a Knight Bachelor becoming Poet Laureate in 1972.
For the last decade of his life Betjeman increasingly suffered from Parkinson's Disease. He died at his home in Cornwall on 19 May 1984 at the age of 77, and is buried half a mile away in the churchyard at St Enodoc's Church.
To watch a video clip of an interview with John Betjeman click on the following link: