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This report is taken from PN Review 144, Volume 28 Number 4, March - April 2002.

Martin Seymour-Smith: The Article the DNB Will Not Print Robert Nye

SEYMOUR-SMITH, MARTIN (1928-98), English poet and critic, was born on 24 April 1928 in London, the only child of the librarian and bibliographer, Frank Seymour Smith (1900-72) and his wife Marjorie (1901-88), née Harris, who published verse under the name of Elena Fearn.

Educated at Highgate School (1939-46), Seymour-Smith served in the British Army in the Near East (1946-48) before proceeding to St Edmund Hall, Oxford, whence he graduated with honours in 1951. He married the Classical scholar Janet de Glanville (1930-98) in Mallorca a year later, while he was acting as tutor to a son of the poet Robert Graves. The couple returned to England in 1954 and Seymour-Smith had employment as a schoolmaster at various schools in Sussex for the next six years. In 1959 they settled with their two daughters Miranda and Charlotte at the rambling old house in Bexhill-on-Sea, originally a Working Men's Library, which was to be their home for the rest of their lives. From 1960 Seymour-Smith supported his family by work as a freelance writer. He published more than forty books and reviewed at different times for most of the London newspapers. He died suddenly of heart failure on 1 July 1998.

To the general public Seymour-Smith was best known as a biographer and as a compiler of literary reference books. His biographies of Robert Graves (1982, revised edition 1995), Rudyard Kipling (1989), and Thomas Hardy (1994) were much praised, though their frank treatment of their subjects sometimes ...


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