Archive of Jenny Joseph
20.0 Linear metres (133 physical shelfmarks, 84 digital shelfmarks)
Language of Materials
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Collection ID (for staff)
CMD ID 12404, 12632
Biographical / Historical
She married publican Charles Anthony Coles in 1961 (they separated in the early 1970s, he died in 1985) and had three children while continuing to write and teach as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and a lecturer in English language and literature for the Workers Education Association and West London College, as well as participating in 'visits to schools' schemes arranged by the Poetry Society. She was also the British Council delegate to the Struga Conference held in Yugoslavia in 1982, served on the council of the Poetry Society, and in the 1980s and early 1990s was part of the committee that launched the National Poetry Speaking Competition.
Jenny Joseph's poetry was first published and broadcast on radio in the early 1950s on programmes like John Lehmann's New Soundings, Thought For The Day, Poetry Please and Hugh Casson's My Pleasure. Her first poetry collection, The Unlooked-for Season, was published in 1960 by Scorpion Press (and in 1962 received a Gregory award for poets under 30). During the 1960s she wrote six children's reading books (and in 2000 she published All the Things I See - Selected Poems for Children). Her next poetry collection was the Cholmondeley Award winning Rose in the Afternoon and Other Poems (1974), which contained the famous and much anthologised poem 'Warning' (opening "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple") which was first made widely available in The Listener in early 1962. She has also published short stories and a work on early childhood education. Her last poetry collection Nothing like Love, was published in 2009. Despite failing vision, she kept reading and writing until December 2013, after which her eyesight deteriorated so much that she was no longer able to do so.
In 1995 Joseph won the Forward Prize for her poem 'In Honour of Love'. Her experimental fiction work Persephone (1986) won the 1986 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. In October 1996 'Warning' was voted Britain's favourite post-war poem in a BBC poll as part of National Poetry Week. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Archive of Jenny Joseph
- Finding aid prepared by Charlotte McKillop-Mash
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Catalogued with the generous support of Jenny Joseph's family and close friend Joanna S Rose.