Lavinia Greenlaw

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Lavinia Greenlaw (born 30 July 1962)[1] is an English poet and novelist.


Greenlaw was born in London into a family of doctors and scientists,[2] but in 1973 when she was eleven years old, her family moved from London to a village in Essex.[3] She has described the seven years there as "an interim time", with "memories of time being arrested, nothing much happening." She read modern arts at Kingston Polytechnic, studied at the London College of Printing and has an MA in art history from the Courtauld Institute. She has worked as an editor at Imperial College of Science and Technology and for the publishers Allison and Busby[4][5] and subsequently Earthscan.[6] She also worked as an arts administrator for the London Arts Board and the South Bank Centre. In 1994 she embarked upon a career as a freelance artist, critic and radio broadcaster.[7] She has been writer in residence at the Science Museum, reader in residence at the Royal Festival Hall, and poet in residence at a firm of solicitors in London.[4]

Her sound work, Audio Obscura, was commissioned in 2011 from Artangel and Manchester International Festival, and won the 2011 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.[8]

She lives in London and currently works as professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia.[8][7][9] She was a judge for the 2010 Manchester Poetry Prize.


Her work is heavily informed by her interest in science and scientific enquiry, and by themes of displacement, loss and belonging.[10] Critics have noted that her poetry is remarkable in its precision, and that her best poems contain a complexity and elusiveness that lead them to "appreciate with each re-reading".[11]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Lavinia Greenlaw received an Eric Gregory Award in 1990, an Arts Council Writers' Award in 1995, a Cholmondeley Award and a Society of Authors Travelling Scholarship.[8] In 1994 she was also chosen as one of the 20 New Generation Poets.[12] Her work has been shortlisted for a number of literary awards, including the Whitbread Book Award (now known as the Costa Book Awards) and the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. She won the French Prix du Premier Roman[13] for her first novel, Mary George of Allnorthover, and, most notably, the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem for "A World Where News Travelled Slowly", the title poem from her second major collection.

Selected works[edit]



Greenlaw appeared as a "talking head" on the BBC documentaries Top of the Pops: The Story of 1976.[14] (2011) and The Joy of the Single.[15] (2012).


  1. ^ "Ms Lavinia Greenlaw", Debrett's.
  2. ^ "Poet Lavinia Greenlaw To Read at Library of Congress December 23, 1997". The Library of Congress. 23 December 1997. Retrieved 14 June 2007. 
  3. ^ Adam Newey, "Poetry – Essex Girl", New Statesman, 13 October 2003; "Lavinia Greenlaw: Testament of middle youth", Independent, 6 January 2006
  4. ^ a b Biography at The International Literary Quarterly.
  5. ^ Mohit K. Ray (ed.), The Atlantic Companion to Literature in English, New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2007, pp. 221–222.
  6. ^ "Greenlaw, Lavinia (Elaine)",
  7. ^ a b "Lavinia Greenlaw Bio". Archived from the original on 5 February 2007. Retrieved 14 June 2007. 
  8. ^ a b c Biography, Lavinia Greenlaw website.
  9. ^ "Goldsmiths College > Department of English & Comparative Literature". Retrieved 14 June 2007. 
  10. ^ "Lavinia Greenlaw – Poetry Archive". Retrieved 14 June 2007. ; Allardice, Lisa (19 March 2001). "A girl in my head". New Statesman. Retrieved 14 June 2007. 
  11. ^ "Books", Lavinia Greenlaw website.
  12. ^ Raphael Costambeys-Kempczynsi, "'The world is round': mystification and the poetry of Lavinia Greenlaw", E-rea, 6.1, 2008.
  13. ^ "Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog – film: Lavinia Greenlaw Profile". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 14 June 2007. 
  14. ^ Top of the Pops: The Story of 1976, BBC Four, 1 April 2011.
  15. ^ The Joy of the Single, BBC Four, 26 November 2012.

External links[edit]