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Publisher's Summary

John Betjeman was by far the most popular poet of the 20th century. His collected poems sold over two million copies. Television audiences loved his quirky evocations of landscape and architecture. As Poet Laureate, he became a national icon, but behind the public man were doubts and demons. The poet led a tempestuous emotional life. For much of his 50-year marriage to Penelope Chetwode, the daughter of a field marshal, Betjeman had a relationship with Elizabeth Cavendish, the daughter of the Duke of Devonshire and lady in waiting to Princess Margaret. This book was written using the vast archive of personal material relating to Betjeman's private life.
©2006 A. N. Wilson; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Funny, poignant and unusually well written, Wilson's biography does the old boy proud." (Mail on Sunday)
"Betjeman is a poet who badly needs saving from his soppier fans, and this Wilson has done." (Daily Telegraph)

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  • Overall
  • Julie
  • 09-26-10

Captivating biography better than most novels

Funny, moving and interesting insights into not only Betjeman and his accessible poetry, but a picture of various classes, backgrounds and fascinating characters, friendship and relationships, travel, architecture, guides and TV programs. Even glimpses of Princess Margaret and other public figures. The narration is perfectly nuanced. I have enjoyed AN Wilson's novels and this is one of those biographies that is like a particularly satisfying novel.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark H
  • 01-06-12

Another side of Betjemin

I really enjoy Betjemin's poetry, his books and his appearances on TV programmes. This biography gives far more insights into his life than I had picked up from his own works. It shows him 'warts an' all', which is a bit of a warning to those who admire his work. If you want to know more of his life, than you can get from his books, then this is a comprehensive source of information about his life. But be warned, that in my view, it tarnishes him a little. And, in hindsight, I would rather not have listened to it, even though it is a well written, well read, well researched and well read book.