Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 17:03 UK

British poet UA Fanthorpe dies

UA Fanthorpe
Fanthorpe was a guest on Desert Island Discs in 2004

The British poet UA Fanthorpe, once a leading contender for the post of Poet Laureate, has passed away following an illness, her publisher has announced.

She died in a hospice near her home in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire.

Born in 1929, former English teacher Ursula Askham Fanthorpe was working as a neurological hospital receptionist when she started writing poetry.

Her first volume, Side Effects, was published in 1978. In 2001 she was made a CBE for services to literature.

Two years later she became only the fifth woman in 70 years to receive the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.


The recipient that year was chosen by a panel of judges headed by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.

Fanthorpe, who died on Tuesday, had been one of his main rivals when Motion was appointed to the post in 1999.

In 1994 she became the first woman in 315 years to be nominated for the post of professor of poetry at Oxford University.

Her 1995 volume Safe as Houses is featured on the A-level syllabus.

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