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This interview is taken from PN Review 88, Volume 19 Number 2, November - December 1992.

in Conversation with Donald Davie Nicolas Tredell


Nicolas Tredell: Could you begin by telling us about the influences which you feel shaped you prior to going to Cambridge?

Donald Davie: I was born and brought up in Barnsley in South Yorkshire, and I am still aware, and was very much aware when I grew up, of being a Northerner, though in actual geographical terms Barnsley is really North Midlands. But we are invited to think of ourselves as Northerners and I still, sentimentally or not, do this from time to time. We all went to the Baptist Chapel, and although in my teens I drifted away from it so that, for instance, I was never baptised in that church, provincial nonconformity was the cultural milieu, and I'm aware of this and still have considerable affection for and loyalty towards that tradition. Those are two influences that I'm well aware of. It's also true that we lived on the west side of Barnsley which is already climbing up to the Pennines, and walking up to the moors and on the moors was a great matter to me in those days. It's not, of course, the most picturesque part of the Pennine Chain nor of the Peak District which begins only a few miles south of there. On the other hand, though, just for that reason, it was in those days, and I believe still is, very largely untracked grouse moor, so that as a teenage boy I and my friends, strange as it may seem from a blighted industrial town ...

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