Derek Savage (poet)

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Derek Stanley Savage (6 March 1917 – 14 October 2007) was a pacifist poet and critic.[1] He was General Secretary of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, 1960–62.[2][3]


Savage was born in Essex and brought up in Cheshunt. He went to Hertford Grammar School and the Latymer School, Edmonton and then a commercial college. He became a convinced Christian Pacifist.

In 1938 he married Constance Kiernan. They had six children.

In the Second World War a tribunal accepted his conscientious objection to conscription. In a letter written in 1942, he informed George Orwell that Hitler required "not condemnation, but understanding".[4]

In 1947 the family moved to Cornwall, initially to a dilapidated cottage in the Heligan Woods and then into the village of Mevagissey. Savage died in 2007, aged 90.

Writing and literary activities[edit]

According to Trevor Tolley,[5] Derek Savage was associated with the following "leftist" writers in the 1940s: George Woodcock, Alex Comfort, J. F. Hendry, Norman McCaig, Derek Stanford. In Cornwall[1] his associates included Louis Adeane,[6] Dick Kitto,[7] Mary Lee Settle, W. S. Graham, Nessie Dunsmuir,[8] Frank Baker,[9] Lionel Miskin and Bernie Moss.

He contributed many articles, reviews and poems to magazines such as Twentieth Century Verse, Life and letters today and The Phoenix, of which he became European Editor, in succession to Henry Miller. From Mevagissey he contributed many book reviews for The Spectator and Time and Tide.

His 1944 book The Personal Principle: Studies in modern poetry gave his strong views on contemporary poetry.

His controversial critical book The Withered Branch (1950) attacked the twentieth-century novels of Ernest Hemingway, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Margiad Evans, Aldous Huxley and James Joyce.

His last book of poetry, Winter offering: selected poems 1934–1953, was issued by the Leavisite Brynmill Press in 1990.[10]



Title page of Winter offering : selected poems 1934–1953.
  • The Autumn World. [Poems. With a black and white portrait by Richard Seddon], Fortune Press, 1939
  • Don Quixote, and other poems, London, Right review, 1939.
  • A Time to mourn. Poems, 1934–1943. London, Routledge (New Poets series. no. 12). 1943
  • The Personal Principle: Studies in modern poetry, London, Routledge, 1944.
  • Hamlet & the Pirates: An exercise in literary detection, London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1950
  • The Withered Branch: Six studies in the modern novel. London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1950.
  • The cottager's companion, London, Peter Davies, 1975. ISBN 0-432-14110-3 and paperback edition, Mayflower, 1980. ISBN 0-583-12850-5.
  • Self-Sufficient Country Living, New York, St Martins Press, 1978, ISBN 0-312-71248-0 (US edition of The Cottager's companion).
  • And also much cattle : scenario for four voices, London Brentham Press, 1975. ISBN 0-9503459-5-4 and, 1993 Harleston : Brynmill Press. ISBN 0-907839-57-6. (Broadcast on the BBC Third Programme on 4 November 1956 [11]).
  • Winter offering : selected poems 1934–1953, Gringley-on-the-Hill, S. Yorks. : Brynmill, c1990. ISBN 0-907839-51-7. Edition of 190 copies.

Contributions to books and magazines[edit]

  • Now Magazine, Autumn 1940 – Tribunal Statement [5]
  • "Testament of a Conscientious Objector". In: Simmons, Clifford, The Objectors, Isle of Man, Times Press, 1965. pp. 82–122.

Lyrics of musical works by John Douglas Turner[edit]

  • Dirtying My Thing, c 1970
  • Your Mother Thinks I’m a Hoodlum, c 1970 [12]


  1. ^ a b Most of the information in this article is from the Guardian obituary, cited above. The list of publications is from the British Library and Cornwall County Library catalogues.
  2. ^ "Anglican Pacifist Fellowship website (No reference to Savage)". Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  3. ^ The Times, Thursday, 15 December 1960; pg. 11; Issue 54955; col E: Letter to the Editor: "Christian Pacifism" D. S. SAVAGE as General Secretary of the APF.
  4. ^ Why does Isis hate us so much? James Bloodworth. Independent. Tuesday 12 August 2014. [1] accessed 14 August 2014
  5. ^ a b The Poetry of the Forties in Britain by A. Trevor Tolley, Manchester University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-7190-1708-4, Chapter 4: Keeping Left, pp.55–65
  6. ^ Louis Adeane: Poet, author of The night loves us : thirty-two poems, 1946.
  7. ^ Dick Kitto: a poet and author of Composting : the cheap and natural way to make your garden grow, Thorsons, 1978.
  8. ^ Nessie Dunsmuir: Poet, author of Nessie Dunsmuir's seven poems, [drawing by W.S. Graham], 1985. She was Agnes Kilpatrick Dunsmuir (1909–1999), and the wife of W S Graham
  9. ^ Frank Baker: Novelist, author of Allanayr, 1941 and several other novels held by the British Library.
  10. ^ David Goodway, Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84631-026-3 (pp. 140-1)
  11. ^ The Times, Saturday, 3 November 1956; pg. 4; Issue 53679; col C: "B.B.C. Programmes For The Weekend: Tomorrow."
  12. ^ The British Library catalogue identifies the author of these scores, John Douglas Turner, with the author of
    • Book of Thomas the Contender, from Codex II of the Cairo gnostic library from Nag Hammadi (CG II, 7), the Coptic text, with translation and commentary: 1975
    • Gnosticism and later platonism (Conference proceedings)
    • The Nag Hammadi library after fifty years: proceedings of the 1995 Society of Biblical Literature commemoration, ed John D. Turner and Anne McGuire: 1997
    • Platonisms: ancient, modern, and postmodern, ed Kevin Corrigan and John D. Turner: 2007