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This report is taken from PN Review 232, Volume 43 Number 2, November - December 2016.

Caroline West’s ‘Chesil Bank Fall’ Tom Lowenstein
CAROLINE WEST wrote ‘Chesil Bank Fall’ in 1961 and it was published in Pawn, a poetry magazine edited at Kings, Cambridge by Richard Boston and Corin Redgrave that summer. The poem is one of seven pieces that Caroline wrote and published when she was a student at Cambridge and which I collated for private publication in April 2016. The booklet is dominated by Caroline’s majestic long poem, ‘In the Same Night’, which was published in Granta in 1961.

At a Granta event the same summer I overheard Muriel Bradbrook, Caroline’s tutor at Girton, remark in her disarmingly donnish way, ‘Of course Caroline’s working on the threshold of a precocious genius… And I’ll never again say the word no.’ (This in reference to Caroline’s satirical use of the word no in her poem.) It was encouraging to hear this endorsement of Caroline’s originality, although Caroline herself deprecated her work and lost confidence in her creativity.

Caroline West was born in 1941 and grew up in the west of England. Her grandparents were Rebecca West and H.    G. Wells, both of whom she knew in their old age. In 1960 Caroline started an English degree at Cambridge and graduated in 1963. In 1970 she went with her husband, the late Osei Duah, to work on an agricultural project in Ghana. Following a serious breakdown, she returned to the U  K where she lived in Dorset. Osei continued to develop a distinguished career as an agronomist and divided his time between Ghana and the home he later shared with ...

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