Who was John Betjeman?
John Betjeman was a twentieth century poet and
Date and Place of Birth:
28th August 1906, 52 Parliament Hill Mansions,Highgate,
Betjeman was the only child of a furniture maker.
Byron House School. Highgate Junior School. Dragon
School, Oxford. Marlborough College. Sent down from Magdallen College,
Chronology/Biography of John
1909: The Betjeman
family move to 31 West Hill in Highgate, London.
1915: Writes a poem
whilst at junior school about the Zeppelin raids which are happening
over London during the First World war.
1916: John Betjeman
gives a copy of his work "The Best of Betjeman" to the
Poet T.S. Eliot, who was then one of his
teachers, despite the fact that he is only ten years old.
1917: Goes to Oxford
and is inspired by the churches and other buildings. Family moves
to Church Street, Chelsea, London. He spends his summer at the family
cottage in Cornwall.
1920: Meets Louis
McNeice and Anthony Blunt at Marlborough College.
two Poems "The Heretick" and "Ye Olde Cottage"
in the "Marlburian" School Magazine. Writes letters to
Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie" to Oscar
Wilde) until forbidden to continue by his father.
1925: His English
Tutor at Oxford University is C.S . Lewis. although neither particularly
liked the other. Mentioned many of his acquaintances at Oxford later
in "Summoned by Bells", amongst them W.H.
Auden and Evelyn Waugh.
1926: John Betjeman
writes his first poem for the "Isis", the Oxford Magazine.
Visits Ireland and Gloucestershire with wealthy friends.
1927: Becomes Editor
of "The Cherwell" magazine at Oxford.
1928: Fails his
divinity examination and leaves Oxford in disgust. On his return
he is sent down.
1929: Becomes private
secretary to the politician Sir Horace Plunkett, but is dismissed
after only two months Becomes a school teacher at Heddon Court,
East Barnet in London looking after the cricket team.
1930: John Betjeman
begins work at the "Architectural Review" magazine and
helps promote modern styles by Le Corbusier and Charles
Rennie Mackintosh. Wrote "Death in Leamington" for
the London Mercury.
1931: Becomes engaged
to Camilla Sykes but then falls in love with Pamela Mitford and
Penelope Chetwode. Edward James prints his work "Mount Zion"
1932: Works on his
ideas for the Shell Guide to England series.
1934: Edits the
first Shell guide, "Cornwall Illustrated". Becomes film
critic for the London newspaper the "Evening Standard",
but leaves after only a few months.
1936: Edits the
Shell Guide. "Devon".
Dew" his second Collection of Poetry is published by John Murray.
1939: Works for
the Films Division of the Ministry of Information at the start of
the Second World War.
of "New Lights and Chancels".
1941: Becomes United
Kingdom Press attaché in neutral Dublin. The IRA seeks to
assassinate him because he is a British spy doing work for the Admiralty.
of "New Bats in Old Belfries". After the War John Betjeman
worked for various newspapers and geographical guide book companies.
of "A Few Late Chrysanthemums".
Statue of John Betjeman
St Pancras Station, London
(© Anthony Blagg)
1958: His "Collected
Poems" sells very well and receives enormous popular acclaim.
of "Summoned by Bells", his autobiography written in blank
verse. Awarded the Queen's Medal for Poetry and the CBE (Companion
of the Order of the British Empire).
1962: Begins working
on his television series about towns to the west of London built
on land belonging to the Metropolitan Railway called "Metro-Land".
of "High and Low".
1968: John Betjeman
made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature.
1969: Awarded a
Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth the Second.
as the Poet Laureate on the death of Cecil Day Lewis.
1973: Made an Honorary
Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
1974: "A Nip
in the Air" is published.
1983: Names a railway
locomotive after himself, the Sir John Betjeman.
- 1932: “Mount
- 1933: “Ghastly
- 1937: “Continual
- 1940: “Old Lights
for New Chancels”.
- 1944: “New Bats
in Old Belfries”.
- 1948: “Selected
- 1954: “A few
- 1958: “Collected
- 1972: “London's
Historic Railway Stations”.
29th July 1933 to Penelope Chetwode, at Edmonton
Register Office, London.
Date and Place of Death:
19th May 1984, Trebethenick, Cornwall, England,
of Parkinson's Disease.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
St. Enodoc Church, Trebethenick, Cornwall. Memorial
in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, London.
Places of Interest:
Statue in St Pancras Station
DEVON AND CORNWALL:
He particularly liked this part of the Country
and produced several guides.
Tom Brown's School Museum, Uffington Ferringdon,