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This report is taken from PN Review 49, Volume 12 Number 5, May - June 1986.

Eric Walter White Charles Osborne
Eric Walter White, CBE, who died in September at the age of 80, was the Arts Council's first Literature Director, occupying that post from 1966 until his retirement in 1971.

From an early age, music and poetry had been his principal interests. Born in Bristol on 10 September 1905, he was taught music at Clifton College, and during his Oxford years, from 1924 to 1927, was active in the Oxford Musical Club. It was at Oxford that he first met such poets as John Betjeman and Cecil Day Lewis, who were to remain life-long friends. Eric's first volume of poems, The Room and other poems, appeared in 1927. He continued to write poetry until late in life: one of his most moving poems, 'The Thirty-Ninth Rose', was written in memory of his wife, 'Dodo', who died in 1977.

He first wrote about Stravinsky in 1930. His Stravinsky's Homage to Apollo was in fact the first full-length critical study of the composer to appear in English. Much later, in 1966, he published Stravinsky: the Composer and his Works, the definitive work on Stravinsky in any language. Among his other important volumes on music are Benjamin Britten, His Life and Operas, Tippett and his Operas, and A History of English Opera.

In the early 1930s, Eric White worked for the League of Nations in Geneva, and from 1935 to 1942 for the National Council of Social Service in London. In 1942 he was appointed Assistant Secretary of ...


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