Charles Causley

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

:: Poet Home :: Poetry :: Short Stories :: Contact ::

Charles Causley, CBE (August 24, 1917 – November 4, 2003) was a Cornish poet and writer. His work is noted for its simplicity and directness, for its concerns with Christianity and for its associations with his native Cornwall.


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Publications
    • 2.1 For children
    • 2.2 Plays
    • 2.3 As editor
  • 3 External links


Causley was born in Launceston in Cornwall and was educated there and in Peterborough. An office boy at sixteen (forced to leave school at the death of his father), he served in the Navy during the Second World War,as a coder, an experience he later wrote about in a book of short stories, Hands to Dance. His first collection of poems, Farewell, Aggie Weston (1951)contained his Song of the Dying Dunner A.A.1, which made an immediate impression: 'Farewell, Aggie Weston, the Barracks, at Guz,/ Hang my tiddley suit on the door/ I'm sewn up neat in a canvas sheet/ And I shan't be home no more.' Survivor's Leave followed in 1953,and from then until his death Causley published regularly. He worked as a teacher at a school in Launceston, leaving the town seldom and reluctantly, though he twice spent time in Perth as a visiting Fellow at the University of Western Australia, and especially after his retirement was much in demand at poetry readings in the United Kingdom. He made many broadcasts.

An intensely private person, he was nevertheless always approachable, and became a close friend of writers as diverse as Siegfried Sassoon, A. L. Rowse, Jack Clemo and Ted Hughes (his closest friend). His poems for children were extremely popular, and he used to say that he could have lived comfortably on the fees paid for the reproduction of only one of them, Timothy Winters: 'Timothy Winters comes to school/ With eyes as wide as a football pool/ Ears like bombs and teeth like splinters/ A blitz of a boy is Timothy Winters.'

In 1958 Causley was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a CBE in 1986. When he was 83 years old he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature - an award he greeted with the words, 'My goodness, what an encouragement!'Other awards include the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1967 and a Cholmondeley Award in 1971. In 1973 - 1974 he was Visiting Fellow in Poetry at the University of Exeter, receiving an honorary doctorate from that university. He was presented with the Heywood Hill Literary Prize in 2000. Between 1962 and 1966 he was a member of the Poetry Panel of the Arts Council of Great Britain. He was twice awarded a travelling scholarship by the Society of Authors. He won the Heywood Hill Prize. There was a campaign, unsuccessful, to have him appointed Poet Laureate on the death of Betjeman.

In 1982, on his 65th birthday, a book of poems was published in his honour that included contributions from Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin and twenty three other poets, testifying to the respect and indeed love that the British poetry community had for him. His work is intenselt original (though influenced to an extent by W. H. Auden) and many consider him, like John Betjeman to be a man working outside of the dominant trends of the poetry of his day. Because of this, academia has paid less attention to his work than it might. His popularity, particularly among the Cornish, remains relatively high.


  • Hands to Dance (short stories, 1951)
  • Farewell, Aggie Weston (1951)
  • Survivor's Leave (1953)
  • Union Street (1957)
  • Johnny Alleluia (1961)
  • Underneath the Water (1968)
  • Figure of 8 (narrative poems for children ?)
  • Figgie Hobbin (for children, 1971)
  • The Tail of the Trinosaur (for children, 1973)
  • Secret Destinations (1984)
  • Collected Poems (1975)

For children

  • 'Quack!' said the Billy-goat (c1970)
  • As I went down Zig Zag (1974)
  • Dick Whittington (1976)
  • The Animals' Carol (1978)
  • Jack the Treacle Eater (1987)
  • The Young Man of Cury and Other Poems (1991)
  • All day Saturday: and other poems (1994)
  • Selected poems for children (1997)
  • The Merrymaid of Zennor (1999)


  • The Conquering Hero (1937)
  • Benedict (1938)
  • How Pleasant to Know Mrs. Lear: A Victorian comedy in one act (1948)
  • The Ballad of Aucassin and Nicolette (Libretto, 1981)

As editor

  • Peninsula
  • Dawn and Dusk
  • Rising Early
  • Modern Folk Ballads
  • The Puffin Book of Magic Verse
  • Causley's Grave
  • Listen to Causley reading some of his poems
  • Goia The Most Unfashionable Poet Alive
  • Obituary
  • Charles Causley
  • British Library
  • This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from a Wikipedia article. To access the original click here.
    Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
    under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
    or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
    with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
    A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
    Free Documentation License".