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Wednesday, 19 May, 1999, 20:08 GMT 21:08 UK
Andrew Motion - A life in words
Mr Motion met Philip Larkin while lecturing at Hull University
New Poet Laureate Andrew Motion emerged as front-runner for the post as a trusted and respected pair of hands almost immediately it became vacant.

He made his reputation as a respected biographer and poet long before he became Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in 1995.

And he has shown he can capture - and be inspired by - the public mood after being moved to verse to mark the funeral of Diana, Princess Of Wales, in 1997.

Born in London in 1952, where he still lives, he was originally inspired to write poetry when reading the work of Thomas Hardy.

Whitbread winner

Professor Motion gained a first-class degree after reading English at University College, Oxford.

He went on to become an English lecturer at Hull University in 1976 where, at the age of just 24, he had his first volume of poetry published.

It was while teaching there that he met poet Philip Larkin, his biography of whom, A Writer's Life, won him the Whitbread Award for Biography in 1994.

Another of his biographies, The Lamberts, won the Somerset Maughan Award when it was first published in 1986. He also published a biography of Keats in 1997.

He left Hull in 1980 to became editor of Poetry Review, then in 1982 was appointed poetry editor and editorial director of publisher Chatto and Windus.

The 47-year-old has published two novels - The Pale Companion in 1989 and Famous for the Creatures in 1991 - and seven volumes of poetry. His collections of poetry include Love in a Life, The Price of Everything and Salt Water.

Creative writing

Prof Motion's mother's death - after many years in a comatose state following a riding accident - inspired the poet to write and he worked up many stories about her into narratives.

"It was another way of keeping her alive," he once said.

One of these became The Letter which won the 1981 Arvon International Poetry Competition - which included former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes among its judges.

He succeeded Malcolm Bradbury as professor of creative writing at the University Of East Anglia in 1995.

He was an Arts Council Literature Panel member from 1995 to 1998 and has been a member of the Arts Council since 1996.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Prof Motion has been chairman of the judges for the David Cohen British Literature Prize since 1997.

Prof Motion, who has been married twice, has two sons and one daughter. He lives in Islington, north London, with his wife Jan Dalley, literature editor of the Financial Times.

See also:

19 May 99 | Entertainment
Motion named Poet Laureate
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