John Betjeman is arguably the most important voice of faith and culture in the 20th century. This collection contains the best of Betjeman's essays, journalism and other prose of a religious nature. Read more Read less.
John Betjeman - Wikipedia
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To get the free app, enter mobile phone number. See all free Kindle reading apps. Start reading Betjeman on Faith: An anthology of his religious prose on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Be the first to review this item Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Share your thoughts with other customers. In Summoned by Bells Betjeman claims that his tutor, C. Permission to sit the Pass School was granted.
Betjeman famously decided to offer a paper in Welsh. Osbert Lancaster tells the story that a tutor came by train twice a week first class from Aberystwyth to teach Betjeman.
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However, Jesus College had a number of Welsh tutors who more probably would have taught him. Betjeman finally had to leave at the end of the Michaelmas term , He had achieved a satisfactory result in only one of the three required papers on Shakespeare and other English authors.
Lewis, towards whom he nursed a bitter detestation. This situation was perhaps complicated by his enduring love of Oxford, from which he accepted an honorary doctorate of letters in Betjeman left Oxford without a degree. Whilst there, however, he had made the acquaintance of people who would later influence his work, including Louis MacNeice and W.
He was employed by the Architectural Review between and , as a full-time assistant editor, following their publishing of some of his freelance work. Timothy Mowl says, "His years at the Architectural Review were to be his true university". Betjeman's sexuality can best be described as bisexual , and his longest and best documented relationships were with women, and a fairer analysis of his sexuality may be that he was "the hatcher of a lifetime of schoolboy crushes — both gay and straight", most of which progressed no further.
The couple lived in Berkshire and had a son, Paul, in , and a daughter, Candida , in In , Betjeman was a churchwarden at Uffington , the Berkshire village in Oxfordshire since boundary changes of where he lived. That year, he paid for the cleaning of the church's royal arms and later presided over the conversion of the church's oil lamps to electricity.
The Shell Guides were developed by Betjeman and Jack Beddington , a friend who was publicity manager with Shell-Mex Ltd , to guide Britain's growing number of motorists around the counties of Britain and their historical sites. They were published by the Architectural Press and financed by Shell.
A third, Shropshire , was written with and designed by his good friend John Piper in In , Betjeman was rejected for active service in World War II but found war work with the films division of the Ministry of Information. His secretary in Dublin was the journalist and writer Shevawn Lynam , the author of the novel The Spirit and the Clay , about the resistance to Francoism in the Basque Country. Betjeman may have been involved with the gathering of intelligence. He is reported to have been selected for murder by the IRA.
The order was rescinded after a meeting with an unnamed Old IRA man who was impressed by his works. Betjeman wrote a number of poems based on his experiences in "Emergency" World War II Ireland including "The Irish Unionist's Farewell to Greta Hellstrom in " written during the war which contained the refrain "Dungarvan in the rain".
The object of his affections, "Greta", has remained a mystery until recently revealed to have been a member of a well-known Anglo-Irish family of Western county Waterford. His official brief included establishing friendly contacts with leading figures in the Dublin literary scene: Kavanagh celebrated the birth of Betjeman's daughter with a poem "Candida"; another well-known poem contains the line Let John Betjeman call for me in a car. Betjeman's wife Penelope became a Roman Catholic in The couple drifted apart and in he met Lady Elizabeth Cavendish , with whom he developed an immediate and lifelong friendship.
By Betjeman had published more than a dozen books.
Five of these were verse collections, including one in the USA. Sales of his Collected Poems in reached , A Poet in London Filmed in 35mm and running 11 minutes and 35 seconds, it was first shown on BBC 's Monitor programme. He continued writing guidebooks and works on architecture during the s and s and started broadcasting. He was a founder member of the Victorian Society Betjeman was closely associated with the culture and spirit of Metro-land , as outer reaches of the Metropolitan Railway were known before the war.
On the centenary of Betjeman's birth in , his daughter led two celebratory railway trips: In , he proposed that the Fine Rooms of Somerset House should house the Turner Bequest, so helping to scupper the plan of the Minister for the Arts for a Theatre Museum to be housed there. A Prospect of England", an aerial anthology of English landscape, music and poetry, selected by Betjeman and produced by Edward Mirzoeff, in celebration of the Queen's Silver Jubilee.
Works of John Betjeman
Betjeman was fond of the ghost stories of M. James and supplied an introduction to Peter Haining 's book M. He was susceptible to the supernatural. Diana Mitford tells the story of Betjeman staying at her country home, Biddesden House , in the s. She says, "he had a terrifying dream, that he was handed a card with wide black edges, and on it his name was engraved, and a date.
He knew this was the date of his death". For the last decade of his life Betjeman suffered increasingly from Parkinson's disease. Betjeman's poems are often humorous, and in broadcasting he exploited his bumbling and fogeyish image. His wryly comic verse is accessible and has attracted a great following for its satirical and observant grace. Auden said in his introduction to Slick But Not Streamlined , "so at home with the provincial gaslit towns, the seaside lodgings, the bicycle, the harmonium. There are constant evocations of the physical chaff and clutter that accumulates in everyday life, the miscellanea of an England now gone but not beyond the reach of living memory.
He talks of Ovaltine and Sturmey-Archer bicycle gears. Fuller's angel cake, Robertson's marmalade ," he writes, " Liberty lampshades, come shine on us all.
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In a radio interview he told teenage questioners that he could not write about 'abstract things', preferring places, and faces. Betjeman was an Anglican and his religious beliefs come through in some of his poems. In a letter written on Christmas Day , he said: In this way I differ from most modern poets, who are agnostics and have an idea that Man is the centre of the Universe or is a helpless bubble blown about by uncontrolled forces.
Unlike Thomas Hardy , who disbelieved in the truth of the Christmas story while hoping it might be so, Betjeman affirms his belief even while fearing it might be false. Paul", a response to a radio broadcast by humanist Margaret Knight:. But most of us turn slow to see The figure hanging on a tree And stumble on and blindly grope Upheld by intermittent hope, God grant before we die we all May see the light as did St.
Betjeman became Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in , the first Knight Bachelor to be appointed the only other, Sir William Davenant , was knighted after his appointment.
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This role, combined with his popularity as a television performer, ensured that his poetry reached an audience enormous by the standards of the time. Similarly to Tennyson , he appealed to a wide public and managed to voice the thoughts and aspirations of many ordinary people while retaining the respect of many of his fellow poets.
This is partly because of the apparently simple traditional metrical structures and rhymes he uses. Prompted by the rapid development of the Berkshire town before World War II , Betjeman wrote the ten-stanza poem Slough to express his dismay at the industrialisation of Britain. He later came to regret having written it. The poem was first included in his collection Continual Dew. Betjeman had a fondness for Victorian architecture and was a founding member of the Victorian Society. He wrote on this subject in First and Last Loves and more extensively in London's Historic Railway Stations in , defending the beauty of 12 stations.
He led the campaign to save Holy Trinity, Sloane Street in London when it was threatened with demolition in the early s. He fought a spirited but unsuccessful campaign to save the Propylaeum, known commonly as the Euston Arch , London. He is considered instrumental in helping to save St Pancras railway station , London, and was commemorated when it became an international terminus for Eurostar in November He called the plan to demolish St Pancras a "criminal folly".
On the reopening of St Pancras station in , a statue of Betjeman was commissioned from curators Futurecity. A proposal by artist Martin Jennings was selected from a shortlist. The finished work was erected in the station at platform level, including a series of slate roundels depicting selections of Betjeman's writings. Graham's death in Betjeman's lease included furniture from the house by Burges, and Betjeman gave three pieces, the Zodiac settle , the Narcissus washstand, and the Philosophy cabinet, to Evelyn Waugh. Betjeman responded to architecture as the visible manifestation of society's spiritual life as well as its political and economic structure.
He attacked speculators and bureaucrats for what he saw as their rapacity and lack of imagination. In the preface of his collection of architectural essays First and Last Loves he says, "We accept the collapse of the fabrics of our old churches, the thieving of lead and objects from them, the commandeering and butchery of our scenery by the services, the despoiling of landscaped parks and the abandonment to a fate worse than the workhouse of our country houses, because we are convinced we must save money.
In a BBC film made in but not broadcast at that time, Betjeman described the sound of Leeds to be of "Victorian buildings crashing to the ground".