Glyn Maxwell (born in 1962) is a British poet, playwright, librettist, and lecturer.
Though his parents are Welsh - his mother Buddug-Mair Powell acted in the original stage show of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood in the West End and on Broadway in 1956 - Maxwell was born and raised in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. He studied English at Worcester College, Oxford. He began an MLitt there, but in 1987 moved to America to study poetry and drama with Derek Walcott at Boston University. He returned to the UK and began publishing poetry in the 1990s. He has written several plays, fifteen of which have been professionally staged in the UK and the US.
Poetry and other work
His three earliest collections of poetry, Tale Of The Mayor's Son (1990), Out of the Rain (1992), Rest For The Wicked (1995) are collected as The Boys at Twilight: Poems 1990-1995 (2000). The Breakage was shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot and Forward Prizes.
In 1994 he was named one of the New Generation poets and he received the E. M. Forster Award in 1997. His book Time's Fool (2000) is a narrative poem written in terza rima, and is now in development as a film. His most recent collections are The Nerve (2002, winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize), The Sugar Mile (2005) and Hide Now, which was published in 2008 and shortlisted for both the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2008 and the Forward Prize in 2009. One Thousand Nights and Counting, a selection of his poetry, was published by Picador in the UK and by Farrar Straus Giroux in the USA. He has edited a collected edition of the poems of Derek Walcott, The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013, for FSG in the USA and Faber & Faber in the UK.
His first novel, Blue Burneau (1994), was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Prize and the book Moon Country, published in 1996, describes a visit to Iceland with Simon Armitage. His second novel, The Girl Who Was Going To Die, was published in 2008 by Cape in the UK and by Kunstmann in Germany.
His latest play is Masters Are You Mad? a sequel to Twelfth Night written for the 3rd year of the Chester Summer Season at Grosvenor Park. It opens on 13 July and closes on 19 August, is directed by Olivier-Award winning director Robin Norton-Hale (La Boheme), and plays in repertory with Twelfth Night. Chester staged his comedy Merlin and The Woods of Time (dir. Alex Clifton) last summer.
Other recent plays include (in the UK) After Troy (dir. Alex Clifton), a retelling of Euripides' Women of Troy and Hecabe (Oxford Playhouse/Shaw Theatre London), Lily Jones's Birthday a satyr-play based on Aristophanes' Lysistrata, which premiered at RADA in 2009; Liberty, about the French Revolution, which premiered at Shakespeare's Globe in the 2008 season (dir. Guy Retallack) and toured the UK. In New York, Agamemnon Home (dir. Amy Wagner) received its world premiere in April 2012.
His radio adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Gambler was on BBC Radio 3 in June 2009, and repeated on BBC Radio 4 in December 2010, starring Patricia Routledge, Sam Crane, Siobhan Hewlett and Nicholas Le Prevost, and directed by Guy Retallack.
The Lifeblood, concerning the last days of Mary, Queen of Scots, was British Theatre Guide's 'Play of the Fringe' at Edinburgh in 2004, and was directed by Guy Retallack with Sue Scott Davison as Mary. The Lifeblood was first performed at the Hen and Chickens Theatre in 2001 with Felicity Wren as Mary. His play Mimi and The Stalker was one of six projects awarded funding by the UK Film Council in the spring 2009 quarter, for development as a screenplay under the name "Witchgrass". Other plays include Wolfpit, about two green children said to have appeared in Suffolk in the 12th century (Edinburgh 1996; New York 2006), The Forever Waltz, a reworking of the Orpheus-Eurydice story (New York 2005; Edinburgh 2005), and The Only Girl in the World, a play about Mary Kelly, the last victim of Jack the Ripper (London 2001). He contributed the fantasy The Black Remote to the National Theatre's Connections series in 2006. He is the Resident Playwright for New York's Phoenix Theatre Ensemble.
Maxwell has written the libretto for an opera based on Philip Pullman's The Firework Maker's Daughter, with music composed by David Bruce, and directed by John Fulljames, the founder of The Opera Group. It premieres at the Royal Opera House in London in April 2013, before touring the UK and going to the New Victory Theater in New York City.
Other recent libretti include those for Luke Bedford's opera "Seven Angels", premiered at Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in June 2010 before a UK tour, and Elena Langer's opera "The Lion's Face", which toured the UK in 2009. A short version of The Lion's Face, (then titled The Present) won the Audience Prize at the Zurich Opera House's New Opera Festival in January 2009. His other libretti include The Girl of Sand, also composed by Elena Langer and performed at the Almeida Opera Festival in 2004, and The Birds (after Aristophanes), composed by Edward Dudley Hughes and performed by I Fagiolini at the City of London Festival in 2005.
His verse monologue, The Best Man, was turned into a feature film starring Danny Swanson (dir. Jon Croker).
His critical guidebook On Poetry was published in May 2012 in the Oberon Masters Series. It was described by Adam Newey in The Guardian as 'the best book about poetry I've ever read' and sold out its first run within five days.
He has taught at Amherst College, Columbia University, Princeton University, New York University and The New School in New York City, the Poetry School and Goldsmiths College in London. He teaches annual poetry master classes at the 92nd St Y in New York City. He was Poetry Editor of The New Republic from 2001 to 2007. He reviews for the Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, and The New Republic. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Welsh Academy.
He married Geraldine Harmsworth in London in 1997; they divorced in 2006. They have one daughter, Alfreda Ceridwen Patricia Rose (b. 1998). Glyn Maxwell returned to the UK after ten years in New York, United States (1997-2006) and lives in Islington, London. Until recently he lectured at the University of Essex.
-  British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 2009-11-08
- Author biography at contemporarywriters.com
- Website for the film version of The Best Man
- Glyn Maxwell Poem in Qualm
- The Execution of Saint-Just at Thermidor Maxwell poem published in The New York Review of Books