U. A. Fanthorpe

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U. A. Fanthorpe

BornUrsula Askham Fanthorpe
(1929-07-22)22 July 1929
London, England
Died28 April 2009(2009-04-28) (aged 79)
Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
Pen nameU. A. Fanthorpe
EducationSt Anne's College, Oxford
Period1978 (1978)–2008 (2008)
Notable worksSide Effects
Collected Poems
From Me To You: Love Poems
Notable awardsFellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry
PartnerR. V. "Rosie" Bailey (1965–2009; Fanthorpe's death)

Ursula Askham Fanthorpe CBE FRSL (22 July 1929 – 28 April 2009) was an English poet, who published as U. A. Fanthorpe. Her poetry comments mainly on social issues.

Life and work[edit]

Born in south-east London, Fanthorpe was the daughter of a judge,[1] or as she put it "middle-class but honest parents".[2] She was educated at St Catherine's School, Bramley, in Surrey, and at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she "came to life",[2] receiving a first-class degree in English language and literature. She taught English at Cheltenham Ladies' College for 16 years, but then left teaching for jobs as a secretary, receptionist and hospital clerk in Bristol – in her poems, she later remembered some of the patients for whose records she had been responsible.[3]

Fanthorpe's first volume of poetry, Side Effects (1978), has been said to "unsentimentally recover the invisible lives and voices of psychiatric patients."[2] She was "Writer-in-Residence" at St Martin's College, Lancaster (now the University of Cumbria) in 1983–1985, and later Northern Arts Fellow at Durham Newcastle universities.[4][5]

Her 1984 volume Voices Off explores student life, critical vocabulary, and the finding that "naming is power".[2] Her most famous poem is probably Atlas, which opens, "There is a kind of love called maintenance."

In 1987 Fanthorpe went freelance, giving readings around the country and occasionally abroad. In 1994 she was nominated for the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry.[6] Her nine collections of poems were published by Peterloo Poets. Her Collected Poems was published in 2005. Many of her poems bring in two voices. In her readings the other voice is that of the Bristol academic and teacher R. V. "Rosie" Bailey, Fanthorpe's life partner of 44 years. The couple co-wrote a collection of poems, From Me To You: love poems, illustrated by Nick Wadley and published in 2007 by Enitharmon.[7] Both became Quakers in the 1980s.[8]

Fanthorpe died of cancer aged 79 on 28 April 2009, in a hospice near her home in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire.[6][9]


Fanthorpe was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours for services to literature.[10] In 2003 she received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. Among many other awards and honours she was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) from the University of Bath.[11]


  • Side Effects. Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets. 1978. ISBN 978-0-905291-14-7.
  • Four Dogs – a poem, Treovis Press, Liskeard, Cornwall. 1980
  • Standing to. Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets. 1982.
  • Voices off. Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets. 1984. ISBN 978-0-905291-60-4.
  • Selected Poems. Penguin. 1986. ISBN 978-0-14-007572-4.
  • A watching brief. Peterloo Poets. 1987. ISBN 978-0-905291-87-1.
  • Neck-verse. Peterloo Poets. 1992. ISBN 978-1-871471-33-5.
  • Safe as House. Peterloo Poets. 1995. ISBN 978-1-871471-59-5.
  • Consequences. Peterloo Poets. 2000. ISBN 978-1-871471-83-0.
  • U. A. Fanthorpe (2002). Christmas Poems. Illustrator Nick Wadley. Enitharmon Press. ISBN 978-1-900564-13-7.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link) CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • Dymock: The Time and the Place. Cyder Press. 2002. ISBN 978-1-86174-121-9.
  • Queueing for the Sun. Peterloo Poets. 2003. ISBN 978-1-904324-08-9.
  • Collected poems 1978–2003. Peterloo Poets. 2005. ISBN 978-1-904324-20-1.
  • From Me To You, Love Poems. U. A. Fanthorpe and R. V. Bailey, London: Enitharmon Press 2007
  • In a Highland Gift Shop. U. A. Fanthorpe, Edinburgh: Mariscat Press 2013. ISBN 978-0-946588-68-8
  • New and Collected Poems 1978–2009. Enitharmon Press. 2010. ISBN 978-1-907587-00-9.
  • U. A. Fanthorpe Selected Poems. Enitharmon Press. 2013. ISBN 978-1-907587-26-9.
  • Berowne's Book. Enitharmon Press. 2015. ISBN 978-1-910392-13-3.
  • Eddie Wainwright (1995). Taking stock: a first study of the poetry of U. A. Fanthorpe. Peterloo Poets. ISBN 978-1-871471-47-2.
  • Sandie, Elizabeth (2009). Acts of Resistance: The Poetry of U. A. Fanthorpe. Calstock Cornwall: Peterloo Poets. ISBN 978-1-904324-53-9.
  • U. A. Fanthorpe: Beginner's Luck, ed. R V Bailey. Bloodaxe, 2019. ISBN 978-1-78037-474-1


  1. ^ "UA Fanthorpe".
  2. ^ a b c d Virginia Blain, Patricia Clements and Isobel Grundy: The Feminist Companion to Literature in English. Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present (London: Batsford, 1990), p. 356.
  3. ^ Lasting Tribute site Archived 27 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "UA Fanthorpe (1929–2009) by R V Bailey" for Second Light
  5. ^ "The North East Literary Fellowship". School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, University of Newcastle. Archived from the original on 22 May 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b "British poet UA Fanthorpe dies". BBC News. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
  7. ^ U. A. Fanthorpe and R. V. Bailey, From Me To You, London: Enitharmon Press 2007.
  8. ^ Bailey, Rosie (28 March 2014). "Comment: Fifty years of Quakers' support for same-sex relationships helped me to be honest about who I am". PinkNews. Retrieved 30 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Obituaries: UA Fanthorpe". The Daily Telegraph. 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  10. ^ United Kingdom list: "No. 56070". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2000. p. 8.
  11. ^ University of Bath "Degree ceremonies finish at Bath Abbey today", 2006.

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