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John Fowles: Selected Poems


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The cover of Selected Poems

Photo: ‘Cobb Storm’ by Peter Wiles

John Fowles (1926–2005) is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and important English novelists of the second half of the twentieth century. Yet Fowles wrote poetry before he embarked on the fiction he would become known for and he remained a prolific poet throughout his life. Selected Poems contains the best of Fowles’s poetry, much of it previously unpublished, revealing the remarkable depth and range of this side of his talent.

His first published novel, The Collector (1963), was a major critical as well as commercial success, and achieved bestseller status. The 1965 film version directed by William Wyler also proved to be very popular. In 1964 he brought out his first non-fiction book, The Aristos, a personal philosophical manifesto. This was followed by his magnum opus, The Magus, a highly original novel set in Greece on which he had been working for many years. In 1965 he moved to Lyme Regis on the south-west coast, a town that featured in his next novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969), a postmodernist take on Victorian fiction that also became a bestseller. The 1981 film version, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, directed by Karel Reisz and starring Meryl Streep, was a triumphant success. Subsequent works of fiction are The Ebony Tower (1974), Daniel Martin (1977), Mantissa (1982) and A Maggot (1985). He also published a number of non-fiction books, but his only book of poetry, simply called Poems, came out in the USA (but not in the UK) in 1973.

This selection of his poetic work includes two major sequences dating from the early part of his career, both of which draw on his time living in Greece and his interest in Greek mythology. The other poems included, largely unpublished and roughly in chronological order, are very varied in content, form and technique, and culminate in a sequence written in hospital towards the end of his life. Fowles was always interested in verse translation and adaptation, and the book concludes with a small sample of this side of his literary achievement.

To buy this book:

John Fowles: Selected Poems costs £12.00 and was published in May 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-906601-35-5

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Flambard Press is grateful to Arts Council England who have awarded us Grants for the Arts funding to make this project possible.

Adam Thorpe, who edited the Selected Poems, is a novelist, critic, poet and playwright. He was born in Paris in 1956 and grew up in India, Cameroon and England.

His first collection of poetry, Mornings in the Baltic (1988), was shortlisted for the 1988 Whitbread Poetry Award. His most recent books of poetry are Birds with a Broken Wing (2007), shortlisted for the Forward Prize, and Voluntary (2012), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Author of many works of fiction, his debut novel Ulverton won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize in 1992 and his reimagining of Robin Hood, Hodd (2009), was shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize. His translation of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (2011) is published by Vintage.


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