Ian Robinson (author)

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Ian Robinson
Born 1937 (age 79–80)
Retford, Nottinghamshire
Occupation Professor at University of Wales, Swansea, Author, Literary Critic, Publisher
Nationality British
Period Late twentieth century

Ian Robinson (born 1937) is a British literary critic and English professor. He was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Retford, and Downing College, Cambridge (he earned firsts in both parts of the English Tripos) where he was a pupil of F. R. Leavis.[1] Robinson served as lecturer and senior lecturer in the English Department at University College of Swansea from 1961 to 1997[2] Best known for his 1973 book The Survival of English,[3] Robinson has been a champion of traditional English literature and a critic of what he alleges to be the degeneration of the English language across all departments of modern life.[4] With David Sims, he co-founded The Brynmill Press Ltd, in 1970, a company devoted to serious criticism which began with the quarterly review The Human World (1970–4) and went on to publish works of literary criticism, philosophy (including Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Remarks on Frazer’s “Golden Bough”) fiction and poetry.

Robinson is a critic of the Matthew Arnold, T. S. Eliot, and F. R. Leavis tradition, as discussed in his book The English Prophets. Along with works of pure literary criticism on Chaucer, he has published much in a category he calls “criticism of language”, beginning with The Survival of English, which includes comments on the language of the media, of religion, of politics. He thinks that judgement is always a refinement of a sense held in common, and in 2008 published Holding the Centre, trying to demonstrate that a number of the Arts subjects have become incoherent by losing their place in the common language. Robinson has been politically active as secretary of a constituency association of the UK Independence Party. He differs from his mentor Leavis by holding the view that judgement in literature cannot do without Christianity, and has been a trustee of the Prayer Book Society.


  • Chaucer’s Prosody (1971)
  • Chaucer and the English Tradition (1972) ISBN 0-521-08231-5
  • The Survival of English: Essays in criticism of language (1973) ISBN 0-521-20191-8
  • With David Sims, The Decline and Fall of Edward Heath (1974)
  • The New Grammarians’ Funeral (1975)
  • Prayers for the New Babel (1983)
  • Richard II and Woodstock (1988)[5]
  • The Establishment of Modern English Prose in the Reformation and the Enlightenment (1998) ISBN 0-521-48088-4
  • The English Prophets: A critical defense of English criticism (2001) ISBN 0-907839-66-5
  • With Duke Maskell, The New Idea of a University (2001)
  • Chaucer and the English Tradition (second, completely rewritten edition, 2004)
  • Who Killed the Bible (2006)
  • Holding the Centre (2008)
  • Untied Kingdom (2008) ISBN 0-907839-99-1


  1. ^ John Ferns, "Ian Robinson and the English Tradition," First Principles, 8 December 2008
  2. ^ Ian Robinson et al. "Institutions to Close Down," Words in Edgeways, April 2004
  3. ^ John Ferns, ibid.
  4. ^ B.R. Myers, "Keeping a Civil Tongue," The Atlantic Monthly, April 2008
  5. ^ Brynmill Press.