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This report is taken from PN Review 124, Volume 25 Number 2, November - December 1998.

A Proper Literary Person Neil Powell

The poet and critic K.W. Gransden, who died on 25 July, was a man whose literary career spanned academia and Grub Street in a triple-arched bridge. After graduating from Jesus College, Cambridge, with a double first in Classics, he worked as assistant keeper of manuscripts at the British Museum in the 1950s, where he met his future wife, Antonia Harrison, and no doubt cultivated his Angus Wilsonian wryness. Then he succeeded J.R. Ackerley as Literary Editor of The Listener: a hard act to follow, but one which brought him into contact with writers as eminent as E.M. Forster, about whom he wrote for Oliver and Boyd's invaluable 'Writers and Critics' series. Finally, in 1965, he became one of the 'famous five' founder members of the English Department at the University of Warwick, retiring as Reader in English and Comparative Literature in 1991. Apart from the book on Forster, his publications included two collections of poems, studies of Donne and Tennyson, and substantial work on Virgil - culminating in the Penguin Virgil in English (1996), an apt synthesis of his interests in Latin and English literature.

It was as a Warwick undergraduate from 1966 that I first encountered Ken Gransden in person; in print, it was a bit before that - for his name in the prospectus had been among my better motives (along with the more compelling one of infuriating my housemaster at school) for choosing a new, largely unbuilt university over Oxbridge. Studying Forster's A Passage ...


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