Alan Brownjohn

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Alan Charles Brownjohn FRSL (born 28 July 1931) is an English poet and novelist. He has also worked as a teacher, lecturer, critic and broadcaster.

Life and work[edit]

Alan Brownjohn was born in London and educated at Merton College, Oxford.[1] He taught in schools between 1957 and 1965.[2]

In 1960 he married the writer Shirley Toulson[3] and in 1962 both were elected as Labour councillors in the Wandsworth Metropolitan Borough Council,[4] and Brownjohn stood as the Labour Party candidate for Richmond (Surrey) in the 1964 general election, polling in second place. He and Toulson divorced in 1969.[4]

Brownjohn lectured at Battersea College of Education and South Bank Polytechnic until 1979, when he became a full-time writer.[2] He participated in Philip Hobsbaum's weekly poetry discussion meetings known as The Group, which also included Peter Porter, Martin Bell, Peter Redgrove, George MacBeth and Edward Lucie-Smith.[5]

Brownjohn is a Patron of Humanists UK.[6]

Reviewing Brownjohn's Collected Poems (Enitharmon Press, 2006), Anthony Thwaite wrote in The Guardian: "...he is a social poet in the sense that if people in the future want to know what many lives were like in the second half of the 20th century, they should read Alan Brownjohn - observant, troubled, humane, scrupulous, wry, funny."[7]


  • Travelers Alone (1954), poems
  • The Railings (1961), poems
  • To Clear the River (1964), novel, as John Berrington
  • Penguin Modern Poets 14 (1965), with Michael Hamburger, Charles Tomlinson
  • The Lions' Mouths (1967)
  • A Day by Indirections (1969), broadsheet poem
  • First I Say This: A Selection of Poems for Reading Aloud (1969), editor
  • Sandgrains On A Tray (1969)
  • Woman Reading Aloud (1969) broadsheet poem
  • Synopsis (1970)
  • Brownjohn's Beasts (1970)
  • Transformation Scene (1971) broadside poem
  • An Equivalent (1971) poem
  • New Poems 1970-71. A P.E.N. Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (1971), edited with Seamus Heaney and Jon Stallworthy
  • Warrior's Career (1972)
  • She Made of It (1974)
  • A Song of Good Life (1975)
  • Philip Larkin (1975)
  • New Poetry 3, Arts Council anthology (1977), edited with Maureen Duffy
  • A Night in the Gazebo (1980)
  • Nineteen Poems (1980)
  • Collected Poems 1952–1983 (1983)
  • The Old Flea-Pit (1987)
  • The Observation Car (1990), poems
  • The Gregory Anthology 1987–1990 (1990), editor with K. W. Gransden
  • The Way You Tell Them: A Yarn of the Nineties (1990), novel
  • Inertia Reel (1992), broadside poem
  • In the Cruel Arcade (1994)
  • The Long Shadows (1997), novel
  • Horace by Pierre Corneille (1997), translator
  • The Cat without E-mail (Enitharmon Press 2001)
  • A Funny Old Year (2001), novel
  • The Men Around Her Bed (Enitharmon Press, 2004)
  • Windows on the Moon (2009), novel
  • Ludbrooke and Others (Enitharmon Press, 2010)
  • A Bottle and Other Poems (Enitharmon Press, 2015)
  • parrot poem


  1. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 411.
  2. ^ a b "Alan Brownjohn". British Council Literature. British Council. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  3. ^ Cotton, John. "Brownjohn, Alan (Charles)". Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  4. ^ a b Sayers, Janet (16 October 2018). "Shirley Toulson obituary". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Neal Ascherson, "BOOKS / Great Brain Spotter: The list of past members of Philip Hobsbaum's writing classes reads like a Who's Who of modern literature. How has he managed it?", The Independent, 28 February 1993.
  6. ^ "Alan Brownjohn | Writer, poet, and Patron of the BHA", British Humanist Association.
  7. ^ Anthony Thwaite, "The vodka in the verse", The Guardian, 7 October 2006.

External links[edit]