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This article is taken from PN Review 263, Volume 48 Number 3, January - February 2022.

Farida Majid Boughey (1942-2021) James Sutherland-Smith
Photograph of Farida Majid Boughey

Poets, readers of poetry and habitués of London’s thriving poetry scene in the 1970s could not fail to have noticed a slender, extraordinarily beautiful woman of South Asian appearance, usually dressed in one of her four hundred saris, although sometimes she wore slacks, a T-shirt or roll-neck pullover if an event was wholly informal, and carrying a shopping bag filled with slim volumes from her own publishing venture, the Salamander Imprint. In addition to her physical presence, Farida had a commanding manner which made her the centre of attention. Friends and admirers included Jacques Derrida and the Guinness family heir, Gareth Browne the creator of Cladagh Records and supporter of the Irish traditional music group, The Chieftains. A number of poets were close friends and confidants; Fleur Adcock, Jim Burns, Gavin Ewart, Ted Hughes, George Macbeth, W.S. Merwin, John Montague, Christopher Reid and Kit Wright.

Farida Majid was born on 27 July 1942 in Kolkata, to Jochna, the daughter of the poet Golam Mostofa, who was responsible for the first translations of the Quran into Bangla, a task that Farida was to resume in the final period of her life. It was under the guidance of her grandfather that Farida developed as a poet although after school she began to study chemistry. In the early 1960s she moved to New York as part of a United Nations exchange programme for students and began to study literature at New York University. By the late sixties her marriage to the ...


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