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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

Edgell Rickword A Celebration Alan Munton

Edgell Rickword celebrated his eightieth birthday on 22 October 1978. The selection from his work and the tributes which follow have been collected to celebrate this event. Together they show the place that Rickword occupies in the literary, political and cultural life of the century. It is a position of importance that has nevertheless left him forgotten by the public (over the years, several publics), but remembered by poets and novelists, literary critics and historians whose lives and work he affected. As William Empson writes, 'he was the real one, if you happened to know'; many people did know, and a score have written about him here.

Because Edgell Rickword's name will probably not be known to the general reader, this celebration begins with a general account of his life given when he received an honorary doctorate at Essex University in July 1978. This edited version of Dr Simon Collier's Oration (which Rickword liked) will be sufficient introduction to the selection of Rickword's own poetry, fiction and criticism. On the whole this has been chosen to fit in with the critical commentaries, so that the most frequently discussed poems are printed in full, as is the story 'The Cow'. The poems (with the exception of the early war poem) are taken from Invocations to Angels (1928), and because Rickword usually revises for republication, they may differ slightly from the same poems as they appear in Behind the Eyes, the collected poems of 1976.

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