Page last updated at 21:32 GMT, Sunday, 21 December 2008

Poet Adrian Mitchell dies at 76

Adrian Mitchell
Mitchell wrote a poem for friends and family a few days before he died

Poet, playwright and children's author Adrian Mitchell has died at the age of 76, it has been announced.

Mitchell was renowned for his political poems about nuclear war, Vietnam, prisons and racism which became part of the folklore of the Left.

Publisher Bloodaxe Books said on its website he had died after suffering from pneumonia for two months.

Mitchell, a former journalist, was dubbed the "shadow poet laureate" by socialist magazine Red Pepper in 2002.

Born in 1932, he was educated at Oxford and worked as a journalist from 1955 to 1966.

He gave hundreds of readings throughout the world in theatres, colleges, pubs, prisons and schools.

In a National Poetry Day poll in 2005, his poem Human Beings was voted the poem that most people would like to see launched into space.

Mitchell had just completed his latest book of poems, Tell Me Lies: Poems 2005-2008.

Final poem

The statement from Bloodaxe Books said: "We are enormously saddened by the sudden death of Adrian Mitchell, one of our most beloved poets."

On 18 December Mitchell wrote a poem entitled 'my literary career so far', which was intended for friends and family at Christmas.

As a footnote he added the following message: "I can't write letters and itís hard to phone yer, as I recover from two monthsí in pneumonia, so take this new riff with a glass of good wine, and drink to peace in 2009."

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