Neil Powell was born in London in 1948. He was educated at Sevenoaks School, where he founded and edited the award-winning magazine Verve and wrote on jazz as a ‘young critic’ for The Daily Telegraph; and at the University of Warwick, where he read English and American Literature (BA, 1966–9) followed by postgraduate research on English Literature (MPhil, 1969–71). Between 1967 and 1970 he was editor of Tracks, and in 1969, while still an undergraduate, won a Gregory Award. He taught at Kimbolton School and St Christopher School, Letchworth, where he became Head of English; he was the founder-owner of The Baldock Bookshop in Hertfordshire; and since 1990 he has been a full-time author and editor, living in Suffolk.
His books include eight collections of poetry – At the Edge (1977), A Season of Calm Weather (1982), True Colours (1991), The Stones on Thorpeness Beach (1994), Selected Poems (1998), A Halfway House (2004), Proof of Identity (2012) and Was and Is: Collected Poems (2017) – as well as Carpenters of Light (1979), Roy Fuller: Writer and Society (1995), The Language of Jazz (1997), George Crabbe: An English Life (2004), Amis & Son: Two Literary Generations (2008) and Benjamin Britten: A Life for Music (2013). He edited and introduced the Selected Poems of Fulke Greville (1990), the anthology Gay Love Poetry (1997), the Collected Poems of Donald Davie (2002) and the Collected Poems of Adam Johnson (2003).
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