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New Fowles poems are published by widow
PREVIOUSLY unseen work by John Fowles, West Dorset’s most famous literary son, has just been published.
His widow Sarah has welcomed the work – Selected Poems by John Fowles – published by Flambard Press.
In many cases, it is thanks to her discoveries that some of the poems have seen the light of day at all.
According to Adam Thorpe, the poet, novelist and playwright who edited the poems, it was Sarah’s ‘patience, generosity and encouragement’ over five years and her efforts to find the poems that made the book possible.
He said: “The late and marvellously observed poem Ringed Plover, by a Water’s Edge was rescued from oblivion, like many of the other poems, by Sarah Fowles while clearing out her late husband’s papers.
“It is very faintly typed on a single sheet of paper, with little visible tinkering, and has the quality of breath on glass.”
Most of the poems have never been published, although poetry formed an integral part of Mr Fowles’ writing life.
Mr Fowles said himself that it was difficult to put his private self in a novel but difficult to keep it out of a poem. He said: “The writing of poetry, which I began before I attempted prose, is an enormous relief from the constant play-acting of fiction.”
In his introduction, Mr Thorpe writes: “Having read every poem, that Fowles ever wrote, I am convinced that he was a fine and serious poet.
“Fowles is like Dickens, that very rare phenomenon of a deeply literary author becoming wealthy and famous entirely through his works.
“Perhaps blinking confusedly in his own celebrity, he chose a different path.
“Not only sticking to his beloved Lyme Regis but becoming its little museum’s curator, a celebrator of the local, the provincial, the fragile bric-a-brac of ordinariness.
“And diving into woods where he was self-confessedly happiest, beca-use trees have no words.”
Mr Fowles is widely regarded as one of the most innovative English writers of the second half of the 20th century.
JOHN Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
His first novel, The Collector (1963), was a bestseller.
In 1965 The Magus was published, followed in 1969 by The French Lieutenant’s Woman.
The 1981 film version, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter, starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, was nominated for five Oscars.
His only book of poetry, simply called Poems, came out in the USA, but not in the UK, in 1973.