Graham Fawcett

writer, teacher, lecturer, translator and broadcaster







[events calendar] 

[2019 England and Wales poetry lecture-performance tours]

[lectures, and poetry readings with commentary]

[Graham at the Poetry School]

[events on request for venues in England in 2019]

[broadcasting, language work & publications]  

[translation coaching]


"If there was a prize for bringing poetry to life, you'd win it."              (Irena Hill, at Dylan Thomas Night in Greenwich)


“Warmth, humanity, passion and erudition which fitted the presentation naturally without drawing attention to itself."

           (George Beckmann, of John Clare Day in Helpston)



"Thank you so much for such a stimulating evening. I really enjoyed it and loved reading and thinking about those poems in company. Now I’m going upstairs to find my Cavafy, and I shall try to track down Brodsky and Auden talking about him – how fascinating to learn of that".

(Member of the audience at Cavafy 150 in Lewes)



     Reading Thomas Hardy's 'Beeny Cliff' on Beeny Cliff, 14 July 2019

                                                Photo: Judy Lin


To hear Graham Fawcett in a recent Poet In The City interview about Dante, click here


Graham Fawcett was born in Kent in 1946, the son of a quiet London schoolmaster who loved poetry and a music-loving mother who could talk to anyone. Being mesmerised by the television commentary on the Coronation led to a school essay which felt as though it was opening a throttle of words. Then his father showed him Palgrave’s Golden Treasury in a reverential, enthusiastic voice which seemed to prove that poetry made people happy.


Studying Classics at Christ's Hospital, he experienced the translation of prose and verse as like walking through a fourth wall into the page; and verse composition from English poetry into Greek and Latin metres gave him a precarious freedom not only to try to write as well as Greeks and Romans, but to start a poem where an English poet had started it and struggle, as they had, at making every phrase. So his first real encounters with Shakespeare, Keats, Tennyson and others came in translating them.

He read English at Cambridge, especially the novel, and was involved in the early days of the Arvon Foundation and its sanely asserted virtue of enabling the aspiring writer to live full-time with the imagination in an inspirational house.

This lit a desire in him to write a novel, and, seriously moved by D H Lawrence’s writings on Italy in both fiction and letters, he and his wife went to live and work there for nearly four years, and in Catalan France for one, during the 1970s. All the while, the stimulus of living full-time with another language felt formative and indelible. It led to Dante. He did a prose version of Dante’s Inferno in 1977 and, later,a new verse-and-prose translation of Dante’s La Vita Nuova commissioned by BBC Radio Drama in 1989. In April 2013 he read the original Italian at Poet in the City's celebration of Dante at Southwark Cathedral. He returned to Italy several times for the BBC and for the Sunday Times, and to teach on-location poetry weekends in Florence (Milton and Galileo) and Recanati (Leopardi) and lecture at the Feltre campus of the University of Milan.

Graham’s freelance work as writer, deviser, interviewer and presenter with BBC Radio Three lasted for twenty-five years until 2015 and his programmes are described on the Broadcasting page here. He also broadcast on Radio 4, the World Service, and the Italian Service.


'Reading, Writing, Groups and Selfhood' - annual lecture to the Guild of Psychotherapists

                                                                                 photo: Birgitta Johansson



Graham's lecture-performance-with-readings life was born out of two moments of pure chance ten years apart.


In 1997 the Iranian poet Mimi Khalvati had invited him to design and teach courses about the great poets of past and present at her newly created Poetry School to encourage the aspiring poet and reader to open the pages of the poetry canon from Homer to Heaney and lap up its examples. He stayed for seventeen years. The whole story is told on the Poetry School page of this website.


From the very early days, when you first projected up the Thomas Wyatt poem about a hart and Anne Boleyn on a screen at Somerset House, and then the other reading courses, and the seminars, you have helped me to read poetry and I have a learnt such a lot from you.  I just enjoy the window it has opened onto a different world, and the friends and connections I have made through poetry.                                             (Anne Boileau)


Image result for st olave hart street images

In 2007, Graham was commissioned by Oliver Ross at St Olave, Hart Street, to give a series of ten lectures on the life of Samuel Pepys, who had lived opposite and is buried beneath the altar. In the resulting Parallel Lives lectures of 2008, Graham ran Pepys’s life alongside those of some of his contemporaries. See Lectures page here.


Parallel Lives was repeated in 2009. With 2010 came Pepys 350, in which Graham took excerpts from the diary and compared them with news events in the British press and on BBC-2’s Newsnight and Channel 4 News.


At Midsummer 2010, Ross said, “It’ll have to be Dante next”. Ross had long wanted to stage a series on The Divine Comedy and call it The Book You Always Meant To Read. “I’ll need fifteen lectures”, Graham said. Ross agreed. The lectures were given during 2010 and 2011. See Lectures page here.


At the end of the last lecture in December 2011, Ross asked the audience what we should do next. “Something to run up to the 2012 Olympic Games”, someone called out. There were seven months to fill with a choice of poets from anywhere in the world and any time in history. The new series, Seven Olympians, took “seven poets whose prowess on the page” had “made them national heroes”. They were Ovid, Chaucer, Byron, Pushkin, Baudelaire, Emily Dickinson and Pablo Neruda.





"You gave Chaucer to us not only with a huge breadth of knowledge but managed to present the entire subjectas a great romp through the Middle Ages"   (Caroline Vero, London)


"Byron lived fast and died young. Graham brought the poet to life again for one extraordinary evening of poetry, politics and adventure. It was wonderful."

                                                                                                     (Lucy Moy-Thomas at London Byron Night)

I enjoyed this lecture so much that I have booked a trip to Amherst this summer to go to Emily Dickinson's family home, such was the impact her poetry had on my life!

(Emma Jane Turner, after the first Emily Dickinson Night, in Central London)


"Inspiring and brilliant. An enthralling evening"

(Anna Powell, after the West Bay Neruda Night on 31st January)



The ‘lecture-performance-with-readings’ English tour had begun.

A second lecture-performance series, World Poets, began touring in January 2014, having been launched at the 2013 Bridport Literary Festival with a new lecture on Ted Hughes. The series now has twenty lectures. See Lectures page.

                                                                                                                    photo: Karen Lippoldt


“A voice you could eat with a spoon, wonderful, I loved him reading, I came specially."      

   (Blind member of audience at Lyme ArtsFest)


In May 2014 Graham gave a lecture tour in New England and Pennsylvania which featured visits to the houses of Emily Dickinson (Amherst), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Concord), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Cambridge) and T S Eliot (East Gloucester) and sessions on Dickinson, Emerson, Thoreau, Longfellow, Eliot's The Dry Salvages, Poets of New England from Anne Bradstreet to Robert Frost, Galway Kinnell, and Maxine Kumin.

                              Talking about New England poets on Martha's Vineyard


"Graham creates a democratic space in which anyone present can contribute thoughts about the poems and the poet's ideas".                                                                                                                                                               (Workshop participant)


In 2015, he lectured in Rome on Lucretius, Dante, Keats and Shelley.

    Reading Virgil and Horace at the Auditorium of Maecenas in Rome where they would have read to him

                                                                                                                                                                 Photo: Judy Lin


He returned to America in 2016 to give lectures and seminars in New York on Poets of New Yorkon Whitman, Edna St Vincent Millay, e e cummings, Marianne Moore, Auden, Lorca and Dylan Thomas.

In the summer of 2018 he toured with a group in County Sligo and Dublin featuring the poetry of Yeats, Heaney, Kavanagh and Hopkins. In 2019 he led a tour of the West Country on the poetry of Thomas Hardy.

He has appeared at the Bridlington Poetry Festival and literary festivals in Aldeburgh, Bridport, Chipping Campden, Dulwich, Henley, Ilkley, the Isle of Wight, Islip, Little Gidding, Padiham, Peterborough, Taunton and Yeovil.

He also devises and presents courses on writing, and on literature and art for The Course at the University Women's Club in London. (See The Course website). Graham has been a mentor for Exiled Writers Ink, was President of the T S Eliot Society (UK) from 2007 until 2016 and is a trustee of Outside In World, the children's world literature charity.


Graham read first Archaeology & Anthropology and then English at Cambridge, and went on to work in television, the arts, the British Institute of Florence, the Arvon Foundation, BBC Radio 3 (with excursions into Radio 4, the World Service and the Italian Service), the Workers’ Educational Association, Goldsmiths College, Birkbeck College, The Poetry School, Art History Abroad, and The Course. He has been a translator and interpreter in Italian and a radio interviewer in both languages; and he taught translation at Goldsmiths College for fifteen years.

He edited Anvil New Poets (Anvil Press, 1990). He co-edited, with Mimi Khalvati, the second Poetry School anthology, Entering The Tapestry (Enitharmon, 2003). He sees his lectures, themed poetry days, and radio programmes as his own 'publications', but plans to bring out the lectures in book form sometime in the future.


“Loved the Plath-Hughes Day last summer – I went straight to the Birthday Letters on my shelf and read it from cover to cover”.          (Kathy Wrightson)                                         




                                  click here on [events calendar]

       and scroll down to the date of any event you are already interested in knowing more about




     Seven Olympians         World Poets    Dante


        Seven Olympians    




"A real tour de force.  West Bay metamorphosed into a Roman drinking den. Hexameters at dawn. Excellent. I learnt a lot".

           (James Crowden, at Ovid Night in West Bay)



              (Phil Manning at Ovid Night in London)


"A wonderful lecture, both informative and entertaining. I was fascinated to learn about the forgotten female poets who translated him”.

              (Sally Jenner at Ovid Night in Lewes)


I really enjoyed Ovid. These lectures are so worth pushing’.

              (Stephen Yeo at Ovid Night in Oxford)




                      Geoffrey Chaucer


"You made my mind dance".

(Carla Sheills Steenkamp at the Brympton Festival Chaucer Night)


"You gave Chaucer to us not only with a huge breadth of knowledge but managed to present the entire subject

as a great romp through the Middle Ages"

(Caroline Vero at the Gipsy Hill Chaucer Night)


"How much I enjoyed the Chaucer evening ! My knowledge of Chaucer was minimal; however, your talk, aided by Sue Aldred's excellent reading in Middle English of the texts, has made me really interested, and I feel equipped now to begin reading Chaucer myself.  You effectively shone a light across a dark land and I now have the paths mapped out, so I can, and want to, explore what was a hidden continent before.  I really want more people to hear you and learn more of the wonderful rich literary heritage we all share!"

      (Hanne Busck-Nielsen at Chaucer Night in Oxford)




                       Lord Byron


"Byron lived fast and died young. Graham brought the poet to life again for one extraordinary evening of poetry, politics and adventure. It was wonderful."

         (Lucy Moy-Thomas at Byron Night in London)


"I was royally entertained".

         (Annie Freud, at Byron Night in West Bay, Bridport)


Thank you for your wonderful talk on Byron at the Hop Blossom in Farnham.  I found myself gripped and enthralled and am so pleased to have finally understood why my late mother was so besotted with Byron. Thank you for revealing why and how his work should be approached. Can't wait, now, for some time to sit down and enjoy what I've missed all these years!

          (Jane Lees, at Byron Night in Farnham)






"I was so uplifted by your lecture on Pushkin that I am now hugely looking forward to the presentation on Baudelaire".

     (Sieglinde Ward, after Farnham Pushkin Night)


"How much I enjoyed the evening ! Your lecture was brilliant”.

     (Valentina Merritt, after Farnham Pushkin Night)


"Thank you for a sensational evening of Pushkin- a great ”performance” and an added bonus having your two colleagues. I was personally thrilled to hear these lyrical voices complementing yours because I had read  that it can sometimes be difficult to fully appreciate Pushkin in translation.Both your rendering, and the translations that you chose, dovetailing so beautifully with Valentina and her colleague’s reading, proved that Pushkin is  most accessible and hugely enjoyable."

      (Sue Hicks, after Farnham Pushkin Night)


"A most stimulating evening. I am so glad I came".

(Jennifer Anderson, after the London Pushkin Night)


"Thank you again for an incredibly interesting and informative lecture"

(Svetlana Calladine, after Pushkin Night in Lewes)


"Particularly involving and pleasurable".

Member of the audience after Pushkin Night in Lewes





"I was enthralled by Graham Fawcett's talk on Baudelaire.  He painted such vivid pictures with words, that you felt you understood the troubled poet and essayist, and the 'modern' influences of Paris in the 1800s that had shaped his life, loves and work.  Graham drew the listener into the world of the poet with such skill that, despite no previous knowledge of the subject and the sometimes complex nature of his work, I was totally at ease with Baudelaire's highly unique style.  Several pieces were delivered in full in the original French, allowing the music and rhythm of the lines to be appreciated, before an equally entertaining translation was given. A thoroughly enjoyable evening".

       (Meg Depla-Lake, at Baudelaire Night in Lewes)


"I want to say how much I enjoyed your lecture last night; it set me thinking.... and this is always  a welcome thing".

(Audience member)




                    Emily Dickinson


"A wonderful evening of Emily Dickinson, questions and a meal together. The evening was a huge success".

(Katrina Dennison after Emily Dickinson Night in Farnham)


"Thank you for another compelling lecture. There is a certain new slant of light in which I now look at Emily Dickinson's poetry, thanks to your inspired evocation of her as a woman of great strength, even volcanic power."

(Romee Tilanus, after the London Emily Dickinson Night)


“A really excellent evening, much enjoyed and appreciated by all those who have been in touch since. People were rapt, attentive and enthusiastic".                                                                     (Liza Bingley Miller after Emily Dickinson Night in York)


I enjoyed this lecture so much that I have booked a trip to Amherst this summer to go to Emily Dickinson's family home, such was the impact her poetry had on my life!

(Emma Jane Turner, after Emily Dickinson Night in London)


Everyone I spoke to said it had been a brilliant evening, and your talk superb -- this applied to all our members who I heard from on Sunday morning too. So my very warm appreciation for your efforts and a tremendous talk, beautifully researched.  It made the whole evening a delight, including the supper afterwards. We would love you to come again.

(Jim Corrigall, after Emily Dickinson Night in Ipswich)


A truly memorable evening yesterday. One comes away not merely with a deeper understanding - and indeed fired with enthusiasm for your subject -  but also what a different experience altogether it is to hear you read a prepared lecture.   I so enjoyed hearing you read Emily's work but particularly relished the opportunity to enjoy your own way with words; not to overstate it, it put me in mind of good music well composed.    Thank you for it all.   How can it be that there is no CD of any of your work?   The Olympians would make a splendid album!  I'm very much looking forward to your return visit to our backwoods . . .

(Sue Key-Burr, after Emily Dickinson Night in Ipswich)




                    Pablo Neruda


"Inspiring and brilliant. An enthralling evening"

      (Anna Powell, after the West Bay Neruda Night)



    (John Taylor, after the West Bay Neruda Night)


"Graham Fawcett is very good indeed. He has a marvellous knack of opening up a poet's life and instantly taking you on a colourful voyage through their life and work. Very illuminating”.         

   (James Crowden, after the West Bay Neruda Night) 



(George Beckmann, after London's Neruda Night)


"You took a unique approach, sent me in directions I hadn't expected and left me wanting to discover more for myself".

(Christine Murphy, after the Lewes Neruda Night)


“Lots of people who experienced it all have said that it was fabulous. Andrew McMillan in particular was fervent in his praise for your delivery and the content of the talk – he was very impressed indeed”.

(Antony Dunn, Bridlington Poetry Festival 2013)


"THANK YOU so much for such a mesmerising evening last night in Taunton. My friend and I left buzzing with delight and enormously stimulated to read more  of Pablo Neruda's work. Please do come back with the six other Olympians!"

     (Jane Hole, at Neruda Night in Taunton)


If your city or town has not yet been visited by the tour and you would like to stage one or more of the lectures at a venue near you, twrite to Graham at




      World Poets

To book one or more of these lectures, write to Graham at


                                   W H Auden


                                Robert Frost


                          W B Yeats



                          Ted Hughes


                       Elizabeth Bishop


                       Seamus Heaney

                        Dylan Thomas


                  Wislawa Szymborska


                         Walt Whitman


                         D H Lawrence


             Lorca & The Poetry of Spain


                                 T S Eliot


                      Rainer Maria Rilke


                    Dante The Divine Comedy



                               Dante Inferno

To hear Graham Fawcett in a recent Poet In The City interview about Dante, click here


                           Homer's Odyssey


         Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

To book one or more of these lectures, write to Graham at




If your city or town has not yet been visited by the tour and you would like to stage one or more of the lectures at a venue near you, write to Graham at


    Dante   attrib. Giotto, Dante, Bargello, Florence

   (the oldest known portrait of Dante Alighieri)





Graham's tour of lecture-performances-with-readings on Dante's Divine Comedy is continuing a five-year run-up to the 700th anniversary of the death, in Ravenna in 1321, of Dante Alighieri, probably the greatest poet who has ever lived.


If you would like your city, town or village to be included on the tour and/or would like to know more about it, write to Graham at

Gustav Dore, Dante in the Dark Wood

Halfway through the lifetime of our years

I came to, in a dark and sombre wood -

the path I should be on had disappeared.


I'd say what it was like there if I could;

that wood, it was so wild and harsh and bleak

the fear comes back, it cannot be withstood . . . 

(Dante, Inferno, Canto 1, lines 1-6, tr Graham Fawcett)




“Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third”, declared T S Eliot in his 1929 essay on the poet.  Dante’s Divine Comedy, a 14,000-line verse narrative of heart-stopping brilliance, written in terza rima, the beguiling aba bcb cdc rhyme scheme which he had invented, tells the apparently autobiographical story of how, at Easter in the year 1300, Dante had set out, with the ghost of the Roman poet Virgil as his guide, on a life-changing journey which led him down into Hell, up the mountain of Purgatory to the Earthly Paradise, and beyond.



For details of poetry events in London and across England, including the Eliot Quartets Days, the Poetry Anniversary Lunches and Suppers, and the new World Poets lecture-performances on tour in England, click here on [events calendar] 





Creation with a capital ‘C’ alerts the 21st-century mind: is it being sold God, or intelligent design? What about the Big Bang?

For centuries, great art reflected belief in a creator. Then belief stood aside and the artist-witnesses of the world’s wonders went on seeing.

Starting from Genesis and becoming Planet Earth, Creation fields painters and writers who sell awe and delight in the four seasons, four elements, light and darkness, mountains, raging seas, the human body. In an age of anxiety, post-truths are trounced by eternal verities, and art is as true as the world it shows us. If not, why are we so comforted to stop and watch a flight of geese on sky or canvas?



Image result for world map from space



                                                          How beautiful you are, Earth, and how sublime  

                                                          How perfect your obedience to the light and how noble is your submission to the sun

                                                          I have walked over your plains

                                                          I have climbed your stony mountains

                                                          I have descended into your valleys

                                                          I have entered into your caves.

                                                         On the plains I have discovered your dreams

                                                         On the mountains I have admired your splendid presence.

                                                         And in the valleys I have observed your tranquility

                                                         In the caves I have touched your mysteries. . . .       






The Blue Marble from Apollo 17



"In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness.

And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat, looked around, and spoke. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

"Certainly," said man.

"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

And He went away.”




    Image result for giovanni di paolo The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from  images





Mary Bromley, director of The Course writes:

"This promises to be Graham Fawcett’s most ambitious new course ever for us, taking its inspiration and power from the vastness of its subject, no less than The Creation of the World. Graham is going to explore the Earth – its geology, humanity, fauna, flora, art, culture and society – by showing each week, with a wealth of images and words, how the transcendent power of art and literature can bring the vastness of Creation so much closer to our eyes. More details can be found by clicking here on http://www.the




  • Earth from Space, photographed from the International Space Station
  • Apollo 17 Full Earth photo. As seen by the Apollo 17 crew on their way to the Moon. Taken 7th December 1972..
  • Giovanni di Paolo, The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise (c.1445), tempera and gold on wood, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


  • from Kahlil Gibran, 'Earth'
  • from Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle


For more week-by-week illustrated coverage of this course, click here at [events calendar] and scroll down to the next session.

To hire this course in whole or in part, write to Graham Fawcett at


It would be true to say that your classes and your enthusiasm have been a most important influence on me over the past few years - and when I write a poem now, I do try to hear it in your voice, as that helps me to know if the music is right. There are also poets you have introduced me to that have become quite important - though perhaps it is also hearing the sheer range of poetry that matters. For me, the special quality of your classes is the way you weave lots of threads together, as I'm sure you realise, but it is this which makes the poetry come alive in the air. After the last session, I even felt drawn to dust off my copy of Paradise Lost, feeling I could finally go to it with an emotional understanding.                                                                                                                                                                                              Jemma Borg


Booking will open early in 2020 for the four Eliot Quartet Days on location in 2020 


1.  Burnt Norton 

date to be arranged for 2020  


2.  East Coker 

date to be arranged for 2020 


3.  The Dry


date to be arranged for 2020  


4.  Little Gidding 

date to be arranged for 2020  



"A terrific day out"

     (Participant after Eliot's Burnt Norton Day on 22nd September 2012)


"Your Four Quartets days are memorable and special".

                                (Melissa Lloyd)


I enjoyed your Burnt Norton day very much indeed, as did my brother David.   The whole day was so well integrated and every aspect of Eliot’s life and influences – so many! – were teased out and followed through so expertly.  A memorable day. I now have a lengthy reading list to work through.                                                 (Genista Lewis)



Thank you so much for an excellent session on Eliot & East Coker. It tied the threads of poet and place, and taught me a lot that I didn't know: it was entertaining as well as informative.


                                         Richard Gaskell (London)



Many many thanks for a wonderful and illuminating day in East Coker. I am sure Eliot would have approved. Rarely do I ever get the chance to analyse a pome in such depth . . .


                                               James Crowden (Crewkerne)


Graham at Little Gidding                          photo: Francesca Bugliani Knox 

                  to go back to page choice, click here         


                       Book now on the regularly updated Fawcett website at


                                 Gift Certificates and Vouchers




                                                                                            Paul Skirrow – a view from Little Gidding


Gift Certificates

Treat someone to a World Poets on tour poetry lecture in or outside London, or one of the other events in 2019 already posted on Graham’s Events Calendar at * or as a special feature on his Home Page. To apply, write to Graham Fawcett at

Gift Vouchers

If you prefer, you can purchase gift vouchers, which can then be used towards the cost of any event *, in multiples of £5 up to £100.

*Please note that this gift certificate and voucher scheme cannot be extended to include Othona or The Course sessions – yet !     







                                                                                                                                        Photo: Paul Skirrow

Reading and discussing Eliot's poem 'Little Gidding' in the Eliot Room at Ferrar House, Little Gidding

with undergraduates from Westmont College, Santa Barbara








If you would like any or all of the Seven Olympians, World Poets or Dante series to come to your part of England or Wales, write to Graham at:

More from Pushkin Night at West Bay

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Poetry & Autobiography, a 12-unit online writing course for £15 by Graham Fawcett is now downloadable from the Poetry School   

Graham Fawcett has just finished re-editing this course and has brought all of the web-links up to date. Watch this space for confirmation that the new version has been launched online.

Click here to be transferred to The Poetry School's Download page - scroll down to 'P' - for more information and the chance to buy and download Poetry and Autobiography now.

"The online course materials are excellent and will provide much future stimulus for poetry" (Miriam Patrick)


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Click here on [events calendar] to get full details on noticeboard and other events






Graham Fawcett

writer, teacher, lecturer, translator and broadcaster




[events calendar] 

[7 olympians tour]


[poetry school] for weekly courses, monthly seminars, and one-to-one tutorials and e-tutorials

[events on request for venues in England in 2019]

[broadcasting, language work & publications]  

[translation coaching]