A. D. Hope

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A. D. Hope
AD Hope c1969.jpg
A.D. Hope c 1969
Born Alec Derwent Hope
(1907-07-21)21 July 1907
Cooma, New South Wales
Died 13 July 2000(2000-07-13) (aged 92)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Occupation Poet and essayist
Spouse(s) Penelope Robinson

Alec Derwent Hope AC OBE (21 July 1907 –13 July 2000) was an Australian poet and essayist known for his satirical slant. He was also a critic, teacher and academic.


Hope was born in Cooma, New South Wales, and educated partly at home and in Tasmania. He attended Fort Street Boys High School, Sydney University, and then the University of Oxford on a scholarship. Returning to Australia in 1931 he then trained as a teacher, and spent some time drifting. He worked as a psychologist with the New South Wales Department of Labour and Industry, and as a lecturer in Education and English at Sydney Teachers College (1937–44).

He was a lecturer at the University of Melbourne from 1945 to 1950, and in 1951 became the first professor of English at the newly founded Canberra University College, later of the Australian National University (ANU) when the two institutions merged, a chair he held until retiring in 1968. From 1968 was appointed Emeritus Professor at the ANU.[1]

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1972[2] and a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1981[3] and awarded many other honours. He died in Canberra, having suffered dementia in his last years, and is buried at the Queanbeyan Lawn Cemetery.

Poet and critic[edit]

Although he was published as a poet while still young, The Wandering Islands (1955) was his first collection and all that remained of his early work after most of his manuscripts were destroyed in a fire. Its publication was delayed by concern about the effects of Hope's highly-erotic and savagely-satirical verse on the Australian public. His influences were Pope and the Augustan poets, Auden, and Yeats; he was a polymath, very largely self-taught, and with a talent for offending his countrymen. He wrote a book of "answers" to other poems, including one in response to the poem "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell.

The reviews he wrote in the 1940s and 50s were feared "for their acidity and intelligence. If his reviews hurt some writers - Patrick White included - they also sharply raised the standard of literary discussion in Australia."[4] However, Hope relaxed in later years. As poet Kevin Hart writes, "The man I knew, from 1973 to 2000, was invariably gracious and benevolent".[4]

Hope wrote in a letter to the poet/academic, Catherine Cole: "Now I feel I've reached the pinnacle of achievement when you equate me with one of Yeats's 'wild, wicked old men'. I'm probably remarkably wicked but not very wild, I fear too much ingrained Presbyterian caution".[5] Cole suggests that Hope represented the three attributes that Vladimir Nabokov believed essential in a writer, "storyteller, teacher, enchanter".[5]

Influence and impact[edit]

Kevin Hart, reviewing Catherine Cole's memoir of Hope, writes that "When A. D. Hope died in 2000 at the age of 93, Australia lost its greatest living poet".[4] Hart goes on to say that when once asked what poets do for Australia, Hope replied that "They justify its existence".[5]




  • The Wandering Islands (1955) Sydney: Edwards & Shaw.
  • Poems (1960) London: Hamish Hamilton
  • A.D.Hope (1963) Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • Collected Poems: 1920-1965 (1966) Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • New Poems: 1965-1969 (1969) Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  • Dunciad Minor: An Heroik Poem (1970) Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
  • Collected Poems: 1930-1970 (1972) Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
  • Selected Poems (1973) Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
  • A Late Picking: Poems 1965-1974 (1975) Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
  • A Book of Answers (1981) Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
  • The Age of Reason (1985) Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
  • Selected Poems (1986) Manchester: Carcanet.
  • Orpheus (1991) Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
  • Selected Poems (1992) Sydney: Angus & Robertson/Harper Collins.


  • The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus: By Christopher Marlow, purged and amended by A.D. Hope (1982) Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • Ladies from the Sea (1987) Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.


  • The Journey of Hsü Shi (1989) Phoenix Review, No. 4.


  • "The Discursive Mode: Reflections on the Ecology of Poetry" Quadrant 1/1 (Summer 1956/57): 27-33.
  • The Structure of Verse and Prose (1963) Sydney: Australasian Medical Publishing Co.
  • Australian Literature 1950-1962 (1963) Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
  • The Cave and the Spring: Essays in Poetry (1965) Adelaide: Rigby. (A second edition was published in 1974 (Sydney: Sydney University Press) with changes and additions.)
  • The Literary Influence of Academies (1970) Sydney: Sydney University Press.
  • A Midsummer Eve's Dream: Variantions on a Theme by William Dunbar (1970) Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • Henry Kendall: A Dialogue with the Past (1972) Surry Hills: Wentworth Press.
  • Henry Kendall (1973) Melbourne: Sun Books.
  • Native Companions: Essays and Comments on Australian Literature 1936-1966 (1974) Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
  • Judith Wright (1975) Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • The Pack of Autolycus (1979) Canberra: Australian National University Press.
  • The New Cratylus: Notes on the Craft of Poetry (1979) Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
  • Directions in Australian Poetry (1984) Townsville: Foundation for Literary Studies.


  • Chance Encounters (1992) Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.


  1. ^ "MS 5836 Papers of A.D. Hope (1907-2000)". National Library of Australia. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  2. ^ It's an Honour: OBE
  3. ^ It's an Honour: AC
  4. ^ a b c Hart (2008)
  5. ^ a b c cited by Hart (2008)
  6. ^ "The Poetry Foundation". Archived from the original on 2 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  7. ^ "ACT Book of the Year Winners". ACT Virtual Library. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 


External links[edit]