Jenny Joseph

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Jenny Joseph (born 7 May 1932) is an English poet. Her poem Warning ("When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me... ") was identified as the UK's "most popular post-war poem" in a 1996 poll by the BBC.

She was born in Birmingham, and studied English literature at St Hilda's College, Oxford, before becoming a journalist. She has worked for the Bedfordshire Times, the Oxford Mail and Drum Publications (Johannesburg, South Africa).

Her best known poem, Warning, was written in 1961 and included in her 1974 collection Rose In the Afternoon and the Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse.

In 1995, she was awarded a travelling scholarship by the Society of Authors. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


  • "Unlooked-for Season" (1960 - winner of a Gregory Award),
  • "Rose in the Afternoon" (1974 - winner of a Cholmondeley Award),
  • "The Thinking Heart" (1978),
  • "Beyond Descartes" (1983),
  • "Persepone" (1986 - fiction in verse and prose),
  • "Beached Boats" (1992 - prose),
  • "The Inland Sea" (1992),
  • "Selected Poems" (1992 - which includes "Warning"),
  • "Ghosts and Other Company" (1996), and
  • "Extended Similes" (1997 - prose fiction).
  • "Led by the Nose" (2002)
  • "Extreme of Things" (2006)

She has also written six books for children.

In popular culture

The second line of Warning was the inspiration for the Red Hat Society. [1]

  • Interview by BBC
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