B. 1952 D. 2017
In these times, we should be glad of this voice. - Kate Clanchy, The Guardian
About Helen Dunmore
Helen Dunmore (1952-2017) was the second of four children, her father the eldest of twelve. As she said herself “In a large family you hear a great many stories,” a grounding which influenced her career as a writer of both poetry and fiction. She studied English at York University and then taught for two years in Finland. She began to publish poetry and give readings in her early twenties. Her debut collection, The Apple Fall, was one of the first titles published by Bloodaxe Books. Her second, The Sea Skater, won the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award. Her fiction career began with short stories before her first novel was published in 1994. Zennor in Darkness, set during the First World War when D H Lawrence lived at Zennor in Cornwall, won the McKitterick Prize. Since then Dunmore has become one of our most acclaimed literary figures, winning many prizes including the inaugural Orange Prize for Fiction and The Signal Poetry Award for children’s poetry. Her eight collections for adults have been given the Poetry Book Society Choice and Recommendations and Bestiary was shortlisted for the T S Eliot prize. She was a fellow of the Royal Society for Literature.
In Dunmore’s poems thought and feeling find expression in language that “is delicate, exact, surprising” (Sean O’Brien, Ruth Padel, PBS Bulletin). The sensual power of language has remained a hallmark, as in her early poem, ‘Wild Strawberries’: “a dark handful, sweet-edged/…pulpless, sliding to juice,//a grainy rub on the tongue.” While some of her poems read as compressed narratives, other more public concerns run through her work. Her alertness to the beauty of the natural world, for instance, is combined with an awareness of the threats it faces: from concerns about what constitutes ‘the natural’ in The Raw Garden (Bloodaxe, 1988) to Glad of These Times, with the title poem’s image of “motherly” JCBs “widening the packed motorway.” A fascination for history is also evident across the different genres Dunmore works in, the way “The past is something we can’t really know and yet we want to memorialise it.” (Dunmore, Bloodaxe website). The intersection of world events and the individual informs poems like ‘Heimat’ and ‘Poem on the Obliteration of 100,000 Iraqi Soldiers’, a reminder of the human cost behind statistics.
Her early encounter with ballads, hymns and fairy tales can be heard in the music of her poems, particularly in their skilful use of repetition. This consistent characteristic can impart an incantatory quality. Elsewhere, ballad and folklore haunt narratives recast in the light of female experience, such as ‘The butcher’s daughter’ and ‘I owned a woman once’. These qualities make for beguiling listening; even when the subject matter is at its darkest, Dunmore’s unadorned reading style provides a clear medium through which the rhythms of her poems shine.
Helen Dunmore’s Favourite Poetry Saying:
“Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine – good god how fine – It went down all pulpy, slushy, oozy, all its delicious enbonpoint melted down my throat like a large, beatified Strwberry. I shall certainly breed.” – John Keats
Poems by Helen Dunmore
Books by Helen Dunmore
Poetry Book Society Choice, The Raw GardenPrize website
McKitterick Prize, Zennor in DarknessPrize website
Orange Prize (inaugural winner), A Spell of WinterPrize website
Cardiff International Poetry Prize
T. S. Eliot Prize, shortlist, BestiaryPrize website
Man Booker Prize, longlist, The BetrayalPrize website
National Poetry Competition winner, "The Malarkey"Prize website
Walter Scott Prize, shortlist, The LiePrize website
(posthumously): Costa Book Awards Poetry and Book of the Year Awards, Inside the WavePrize website
Fellow of the Royal Society of LiteraturePrize website
Helen Dunmore FRSL (12 December 1952 – 5 June 2017) was a British poet, novelist, and short story and children's writer. She won the National Poetry Competition award. Contents 1 Biography 2 Personal life 3 Awards and honours 4 Bibliography 4.1 Novels 4.2 Short story collections 4.3 Young adult books 4.4 Children's books 4.5 Poetry collections 5 References 6 External links Biography Dunmore was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, in 1952, the second of four children of Betty (née Smith) and Maurice Dunmore. She attended (briefly) Nottingham Girls' High School, then a direct grant grammar school. She studied English at York University, and lived in Finland for two years (1973–75) and worked as a teacher. She lived after that in Bristol. Dunmore was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL). Some of Dunmore's children's books are included in reading schemes for use in schools. In March 2017, she published her last novel, Birdcage Walk, as well as an article about mortality for The Guardian written after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She died on 5 June 2017. Her final poetry collection Inside the Wave, published in April 2017 shortly before her death, posthumously won the Poetry and overall Book of the Year awards in the 2017 Costa Book Awards. Personal life Her husband Frank Charnley, whom she married in 1980, is a lawyer. Dunmore had a son, daughter and stepson, and three grandchildren at the time of her death. Awards and honours 1987 Poetry Book Society Choice, The Raw Garden 1994 McKitterick Prize, Zennor in Darkness 1996 Orange Prize (inaugural winner), A Spell of Winter 1990 Cardiff International Poetry Prize 1997 T. S. Eliot Prize, shortlist, Bestiary 2010: Man Booker Prize, longlist, The Betrayal  2010: National Poetry Competition winner, "The Malarkey" 2015: Walter Scott Prize, shortlist, The Lie 2017 (posthumously): Costa Book Awards Poetry and Book of the Year Awards, Inside the Wave Bibliography Novels Zennor in Darkness (1993, McKitterick Prize 1994) Burning Bright (1994) A Spell of Winter (1995, Orange Prize 1996) Talking to the Dead (1996) Your Blue-Eyed Boy (1998) With your Crooked Heart (1999) The Siege (2001, shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and the Orange Prize 2002) Mourning Ruby (2003) House of Orphans (2006) Counting the Stars (2008) The Betrayal (2010, longlisted for the Man Booker prize) The Greatcoat (2012) (ISBN 978-0-09-956493-5) The Lie (2014) Exposure (2016) (ISBN 978-0-09-195394-2) An "Exclusive edition for independent bookshops" (ISBN 978-1-78633-000-0) includes a 14-page essay "On Reading" Birdcage Walk (2017, longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize 2018) Short story collections Love of Fat Men (1997) Ice Cream (2000) Rose, 1944 (2005) Girl, Balancing and Other Stories (2018) Young adult books Zillah and Me! The Lilac Tree (first published as Zillah and Me) (2004) The Seal Cove (first published as The Zillah Rebellion) (2004) The Silver Bead (2004) The Ingo Chronicles Ingo (2005) The Tide Knot (2006) The Deep (2007) The Crossing of Ingo (2008) Stormswept (2012) Children's books Going to Egypt (1992) In the Money (1995) Go Fox (1996) Fatal Error (1996) Amina's Blanket (1996) Allie's Apples (1997) Clyde's Leopard (1998) Great-Grandma's Dancing Dress (1998) Brother Brother, Sister Sister (1999) Allie's Rabbit (1999) Allie's Away (2000) Aliens Don't Eat Bacon Sandwiches (2000) The Ugly Duckling (2001) Tara's Tree House (2003) The Ferry Birds (2010) The Islanders (2011) The Lonely Sea Dragon (2013) Poetry collections The Apple Fall (Bloodaxe Books, 1983) The Sea Skater (Bloodaxe Books, 1986) The Raw Garden (Bloodaxe Books, 1988) Short Days, Long Nights: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 1991) Recovering a Body (Bloodaxe Books, 1994) Secrets (The Bodley Head, 1994) [children's poetry title] Bestiary (Bloodaxe Books, 1997) Out of the Blue: Poems 1975–2001 (Bloodaxe Books, 2001) Snollygoster and Other Poems (Scholastic Press, 2001) [children's poetry title] Glad of these times (Bloodaxe Books, 2007) The Malarkey (Bloodaxe Books, 2012) Inside the Wave (Bloodaxe Books, 2017) References ^ Jump up to: a b c d Kate Kellaway (5 June 2017). "Helen Dunmore obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017. ^ "Helen Dunmore – Literature". British Council Literature. Archived from the original on 4 January 2018. Retrieved 6 June 2017. ^ "News And Publicity | Bloodaxe Books". www.bloodaxebooks.com. Archived from the original on 11 June 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017. ^ "Helen Dunmore: facing mortality and what we leave behind". The Guardian. 4 March 2017. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 4 June 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017. ^ Cain, Sian (5 June 2017). "Poet and author Helen Dunmore dies aged 64". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 June 2017. Retrieved 5 June 2017. ^ "Helen Dunmore, poet and novelist, dies aged 64". BBC News. 6 June 2017. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. ^ "Death of Novelist Helen Dunmore Announced". Foyles. 5 June 2017. Archived from the original on 8 June 2017. ^ Jump up to: a b "Costa Poetry Award 2017" (PDF). Costa Book Awards. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 January 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2018. ^ Jump up to: a b Cain, Sian (2 January 2018). "Helen Dunmore wins posthumous Costa award for collection Inside the Wave". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 January 2018. Retrieved 2 January 2018. ^ Marianne Macdonald (21 September 2003). "A writer's life: Helen Dunmore". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017. ^ "Helen Dunmore 1952–2017". The Poetry Society. Archived from the original on 3 January 2018. Retrieved 3 January 2018. ^ "Past winners of the McKitterick Prize". Society of Authors. Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 28 March 2015. ^ McCrum, Robert (10 June 2001). "The Siege is a novel for now". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2009. ^ Woodman, Sue (1 July 1996). "Orange is a female color". The Nation. Washington D.C. Retrieved 12 December 2011.(subscription required) ^ Dowson, Jane; Entwistle, Alice (2005). A History of Twentieth-Century British Women's Poetry. Cambridge University Press. p. xx. ISBN 978-0-521-81946-6. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. ^ "Helen Dunmore – Orange Prize winner – Poetry". Archived from the original on 28 March 2015. ^ "The Man Booker Prize 2010". Archived from the original on 3 January 2018. Retrieved 5 June 2017. ^ "Helen Dunmore Bloodaxe author page". Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2017. ^ "National Poetry Competition: History". The Poetry Society. Retrieved 10 January 2019. ^ "2015 Shortlist announced". Walter Scott Prize. 24 March 2015. Archived from the original on 26 March 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015. ^ Elaine Showalter, "Dreams of a dead daughter" Archived 16 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 27 September 2003, The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2017. ^ Dunmore, Helen (2016). "On Reading: an exclusive for independent bookshops". Exposure. Hutchnson. pp. 395–410. ISBN 978-1-78633-000-0. Title page of essay on p 395, text of essay on pp 397-410. Dustjacket bears the words "Exclusive edition for independent bookshops" External links Helen Dunmore at British Council