Maureen Duffy (b. 1933 in Worthing, Sussex) is a notable contemporary British poet, playwright and novelist. She has also published a literary biography of Aphra Behn, and The Erotic World of Faery a book-length study of eroticism in faery fantasy literature.
After a tough childhood, Duffy took her degree in English from King’s College London. She went on to be a schoolteacher from 1956 to 1961, and edited three editions of a poetry magazine called the sixties. She then turned to writing full-time as a poet and playwright after being commissioned to produce a screenplay by Granada Television. Her first novel, written at the suggestion of a publisher, That’s How It Was (1962), was published to great acclaim. Her first openly lesbian novel was The Microcosm (1966), set in the famous lesbian Gateways club in London.
Maureen is the author of 34 published works of fiction, including 9 collections of poetry, non-fiction, and 16 plays for stage, screen and radio, the most recent, being Sappho Singing; she is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of King’s College London, and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature, as well as President of Honour of the British Copyright Council and the ALCS, and a CISAC gold medallist. She was recently awarded a D. Litt by Loughborough University for contributions to literature and equality law reform. Life Writing is included in her new collection, Environmental Studies, to be published by Enitharmon in April 2013.
Her novel Gor Saga was televised in 1988 in a three part mini-series called First Born starring Charles Dance.
She is said to have been Britain’s first lesbian to ‘come out’ in public, and made public comments during the debates around homosexual law reform. In 1977 she published The Ballad of the Blasphemy Trial, a broadside against the trial of the Gay News newspaper for ‘blasphemous libel’.
Pictures from an Exhibition
Maureen's eighth collection of poetry, Pictures from an Exhibition, was published by Enitharmon in 2016
For Maureen Duffy, pictures are magical creations and recreations - of history, mythologies, landscape, love and death - where artists take risks analagous to a poet's with words. Pictures abound in this collection, ushering the reader from canvas to screen via x-rays and iPhone snapshots, the latter inspiring the closing sequence 'Burdsong'. Above all, Pictures from an Exhibition celebrates the mind's eye, which is its own exhibition gallery: transforming Darlington Station into an upturned ship's hull or a mauled pigeon into a still life, and glorying in the lives, loves and creations of painters from Veronese to Anselm Kiefer.
'Maureen Duffy has inspired many other writers and proved that the English novel...can be fantastical, experimental and political. Perhaps it is her poetry, though, that most fully captures her range as she presses on like a medieval troubadour across barriers of genre, gender, space and time.' TLS
In Times Like These
‘A new novel by Maureen Duffy is always an important event. She’s one of the most honourable and interesting writers we have.' Rose Tremain
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Political conspiracies are rife and Britain’s Constitution is faltering. Scottish Independence looms. It threatens to radically change the lives of Londoners Terry and Paul. As they become victims of a series of sickening attacks rooted in tribal bigotry and intolerance, Terry and Paul must fight for their professional identities, their relationship and their lives.
Other stories interlace with Terry and Paul’s struggle to form an exploration of current social and political attitudes, investigating ideas of nationhood, cultural heritage and political ideals to remind us sagely that the world is our country.
Maureen Duffy’s latest poetry collection is centred on environments – human, insect and animal – some experienced personally, some observed, some imagined. Though strictly contemporary in her concerns, she reaches back in her poetry to childhood, and beyond that in her imagination to cultural figures of the past – John Donne, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, bringing them lucidly and vividly to life.
There is a strong sense of compassion and fair play in her poems, reflecting Duffy’s lifelong support for progressive social and political movements, and a beautiful lyricism and technical skill derived from her love of the classical world and Old and Mediaeval English. As so often in her work, London past and present provides the backdrop to her real and imagined life stories: of love and loss, forebears and friends, the humorous and sometimes painful experiences of old age.
'Maureen Duffy deserves serious acclaim as a poet, as much as an original novelist.' --Elaine Feinstein, The Times
The Orpheus Trail
When a child is found dead among the charred remains of a pier fire, surrounded by the old-fashioned toys of the Greek god Dionysus and a ritualistic fire basket, Detective Inspector Hildreth calls in the local museum’s curator, Alex Kish, to help him decipher the mysterious symbolism.
Soon afterwards an ancient Saxon amulet is stolen from the museum and the dead bodies of other young boys begin to turn up arranged as grotesque works of art with components of the gold amulet around their necks. The enigmatic Detective Inspector draws the curator into a strange web of ancient secrets, pagan ritualism, and the illegal trafficking of young boys.
Have the boys been murdered? How have they got there? What is the meaning of the symbols? And most of all who is responsible and why? The Orpheus Trail is a tense thriller where Hildreth and Kish are caught up in a race against time to interpret these ancient codes and clues before death claims another young life.
Publisher: ARCADIA BOOKS
Maureen’s agent is:
Jonathan Clowes Ltd, 10 Iron Bridge House, Bridge Approach, London NW1 8BD, Tel: 0207 722 7674
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