Fiona Sampson

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Fiona Sampson
Fiona Sampson
Fiona Sampson
OccupationPoet and writer
Alma materRoyal Academy of Music; University of Oxford, University of Nijmegen

Fiona Ruth Sampson, Born 1963 MBE FRSL[1] is a British poet, writer, editor, translator and academic who was the first woman editor of Poetry Review since Muriel Spark. She received a MBE for services to literature in 2017.


Sampson was educated at the Royal Academy of Music and then studied at Oxford University, where she won the Newdigate Prize.[2] She gained a PhD in the philosophy of language from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.


Sampson is currently Emeritus Professor of the University of Roehampton and a trustee of the Royal Literary Fund. She lives in Herefordshire


Sampson has been publishing poetry since 1996 and some of her earlier work is held at The Poetry Archive.[3] Her work has been translated into several languages and her own translations include the work of Jaan Kaplinski and Amir Or. Her themes are faith and landscape.[4][5] Her first full collection, Folding the Real was published in 2001 and followed by The Distance Between Us (2005), a novel in verse. Her poem Trumpeldor Beach was shortlisted for the 2006 Forward Prize. Her later poetry collections include Common Prayer (2007); shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, Rough Music (2010)[4] shortlisted for both the T.S. Eliot Prize, and Forward Poetry Prize, and Coleshill (2013).[6] Her eighth collection, Come Down (2019) was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year (Poetry).[7]

From 2005 to 2012, Sampson was the editor of Poetry Review, the oldest and most widely read poetry journal in the UK.[8] She was the first woman editor of the journal since Muriel Spark (1947–49). During this time she published a critical anthology A Century of Poetry Review (Carcanet, 2009), a writing manual Poetry Writing: The Expert Guide (2009), a volume of lectures, Music Lessons, and Beyond the Lyric: a map of contemporary British poetry (Penguin Random House, 2012), a study of the poetry mainstream in the late 20th Century.[9]

In 2013 Sampson became Professor of Poetry at the University of Roehampton and the Director of the Roehampton Poetry Centre.[5] She created the Roehampton Prize for Poetry[10] and chaired the judges in 2015 and 2017. Here she founded[5] Poem,[11] a quarterly international review. 19 issues were published between 2013-2018. The centre along with Roehampton's Creative Writing program was closed in 2022.[12]

Literary Criticism and Biography[edit]

Sampson is interested in the Romantics. Her Faber Poet to Poet edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley was published in 2012. Starlight Wood: Walking Back to the Romantic Countryside, [13] a collection of 'Romantic' walks was published by Corsair in 2022. In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein.[14][15] was a finalist for the Biographers' Club Slightly Foxed prize.[16] This was followed by Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning (2021) [17] which was longlisted for the Biographers International Organisation Plutarch Prize 2021,[18]


Sampson has been a judge for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Irish Times IMPAC Awards (now International Dublin Literary Award), the 2011 Forward Poetry Prizes, the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize, the 2015 T.S. Eliot Prize, and the 2016 Ondaatje Prize. From 2013 to 2016 she was a judge for the Society of Authors' Cholmondeley Awards.She chaired the 2015 and 2016 European Lyric Atlas Prize[19] (in Bosnia).

Sampson is a former musician and has worked with composers, including commissions with Sally Beamish,[20] Stephen Goss[21] and Philip Grange. In 2016 she published a study of musical forms and poetry, Lyric Cousins: Music l Form in Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).[22]

Sampson has published scholarly works and works for general readers on the subject of writing and health care (below).

As a journalist, Sampson has reviewed for the Guardian and Independent newspapers and the Spectator and Tablet magazines.

Awards and honours[edit]

Sampson has received the Newdigate Prize from the University of Oxford and a Cholmondeley Award. Sampson is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, where she has served on the Council, and of the English Association and the Wordsworth Trust. She received an MBE for services to literature in 2017.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Starlight Wood: Walking back to the Romantic countryside, Corsair: September 2022 ISBN 9781472156013
  • Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, W.W. Norton; Profile Books: 2021ISBN 9781782835288
  • Come Down, Corsair: 2020ISBN 9781472155153
  • In search of Mary Shelley: the girl who wrote Frankenstein, Profile Books: 2018ISBN 9781643132426
  • Limestone Country, Little Toller: May 2017ISBN 9781908213518
  • Lyric Cousins: Poetry & musical form, Edinburgh University Press: 2016ISBN 9781474402927
  • The Catch, Penguin Random House: 2016ISBN 9781448138678, 1448138671
  • Coleshill, Penguin Random House: 2013ISBN 9781448138678
  • Night Fugue: Selected Poems, Sheep Meadow Press (US): 2013
  • Beyond the Lyric: a map of contemporary British poetry, Penguin Random House 2012 ISBN 9781448138661, 1448138663
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1st edition: The Romantics Series: Faber: 2011ISBN 9780571279883
  • Music Lessons: The Newcastle Poetry Lectures, Bloodaxe: 2011ISBN 9781852249090
  • Rough Music, Carcanet: 2010ISBN 9781847770455
  • A Century of Poetry Review (edited and introduced), Carcanet: 2009ISBN 9781847770165
  • Common Prayer, Carcanet: 2007ISBN 9781857549423
  • On Listening: Selected Essays, Salt: 2007ISBN 9781844713271
  • The Distance Between Us, Seren: 2005 ISBN 9781854113979
  • Folding the Real, Seren: 2001ISBN 9781854112972
  • Writing: Self and Reflexivity with Celia Hunt, Palgrave Macmillan: 2005ISBN 9781403918772
  • Creative Writing in Health and Social Care (editor), Jessica Kingsley: 2004ISBN 9781846420597
  • The Self on the Page (editor with Celia Hunt), Jessica Kingsley: 1998ISBN 9781853024702


  • Bee Sama' with Luminita Spinu: King's College London Festival: 2015
  • Three sonnets with Harrison Birtwistle: Nash Ensemble: Wigmore Hall: fc
  • Tree Carols with Sally Beamish: Coull Quartet: City of London Festival: 2014, Edition Peters: 2015
  • Rough Music with Steven Goss: Guildford International Festival: 2009, Boosey and Hawkes: 2010


  1. ^ "New Year's Honours list 2017" (PDF). Government Digital Service. 30 December 2016. p. 82. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  2. ^ "British Council Biog". Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Fiona Sampson's workshop". The Guardian. London. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  4. ^ a b Padel, Ruth (27 August 2010). "Rough Music by Fiona Sampson". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  5. ^ a b c "The strength of Fiona Sampson". The Independent. 9 March 2013. Retrieved 22 March 2024.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Sean (23 August 2013). "Coleshill by Fiona Sampson – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 March 2024.
  7. ^ "Wales Book of the Year 2021 Shortlist". Literature Wales.
  8. ^ Lea, Richard (27 February 2012). "Poetry Review editor Fiona Sampson resigns". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 March 2024.
  9. ^ "Beyond the Lyric: A Map of Contemporary British Poetry". The Independent. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2024.
  10. ^ "The Roehampton Poetry Centre at the University of Roehampton is delighted to announce the winner of the fifth annual Roehampton Poetry Prize". Roehampton University. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  11. ^ Sampson, Fiona. "Taylor and Francis online". Poem: International English Language Quarterly Journal.
  12. ^ Yeomans, Emma (11 March 2024). "Roehampton University scraps classics, philosophy, drama and creative writing courses". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  13. ^ Nicolson, Adam (25 August 2022). "In the footsteps of the Romantic poets". The Spectator. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  14. ^ Smith, Dinitia (3 August 2018). "The Woman Who Created a Monster". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  15. ^ Cooke, Rachel (7 January 2018). "In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein review – a life after deaths". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  16. ^ Foxed, Slightly (May 2018). "Bart van Es wins The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize for The Cut Out Girl".
  17. ^ Goodwin, Daisy (7 March 2024). "Two-Way Mirror by Fiona Sampson, review — shining a light on Elizabeth Barrett Browning". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 7 March 2024.
  18. ^ "2021 Plutarch Award Longlist". Biographers International Organization. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  19. ^ Mitrić, Milanka (1 November 2018). ""Evropski atlas lirike" Čarlsu Simiću". Glas Srpske (in Serbian). Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  20. ^ "On This Shining Night - British Music Society". 24 June 2022. Retrieved 24 March 2024.
  21. ^ "Rough Music University of Sussex". Retrieved 24 March 2024.
  22. ^ Balmer, Josephine (27 February 2017). "A muse is for sharing: Fiona Sampson's Lyric Cousins". New Statesman. Retrieved 9 March 2024.

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