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Authority record

Holland, Vincenza, 1923-2018, poet

  • Person
  • 1923-2018

Vincenza Holland began writing poetry in her 60s. All her life she read copiously, she wrote stories, and she kept notebooks full of observations on daily life. Her poetry frequently draws on her perspective as an outsider: as a child of Catholic immigrants; as a mother, and later a wife in a time of repressive social norms; and (in the 60s and 70s) as a British woman living in Africa and Greece.

Vincenza was born in Scotland to migrant parents escaping a post WW1 depression and a harsh peasant life in the mountains of Southern Italy. Neither were taught to read and write. They first eked a living making and selling ice-cream from a bicycle cart, and later (with help from a win on the pools) bought a fish and chip shop in Berwick. During WW2 her father was interned as an enemy alien.

After the war Vincenza escaped the chip shop for a while by setting off with a girlfriend to hitch-hike to Italy and see a little of the world. In 1950 she left home for teacher training college in Birmingham. There she first met Roy Holland - and became pregnant before discovering he was already married. She put on a wedding ring and moved with him when he won a scholarship for working-class students, to study English at Cambridge University. They had three children together before eventually marrying when the youngest was three. The fertile literary scene in Cambridge at that time excited her, (contemporaneous with Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, both of whom she knew socially) and her time there lit a smouldering fuse of poetic creativity, which only ignited when she eventually left her marriage and started taking her own writing seriously.

Between 1966-73 the family lived abroad. First in newly independent Lesotho - where Roy taught at a university (UBLS) for black students in a country surrounded by apartheid South Africa - but also for 18 months on Corfu, in a ruinous villa with no electricity or mains water, but surrounded by beautiful orchards and olive groves. Vincenza was politically and socially engaged in what was happening around her, and her archive contains many collected documents, cuttings and ephemera relating to her travels.
In her later years she returned to live in Berwick, participating in and leading many local writing groups. She was published in various magazines and journals, and her collection, 'Mrs Turnbull's Tree' was published in 1990.

Hollis, Matthew, 1971-, poet, editor, professor and author

  • Person
  • 1971-

Matthew Hollis was born in 1971 in Norwich, and now lives in London. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1999. He is co-editor of 101 Poems Against War (Faber, 2003) and Strong Words: Modern Poets on Modern Poetry (Bloodaxe Books, 2000), and editor of the Selected Poems of Edward Thomas (Faber, 2011). He is poetry editor at Faber & Faber. After its shortlisting for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, his first full-length collection Ground Water (Bloodaxe Books, 2004) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (the first time for a poetry book) and for the Whitbread Poetry Award. Ground Water was also a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His biography, Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas (Faber, 2011), won the Costa Biography Award, the H.W. Fisher Biography Award and the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for Non-Fiction, and was BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

Horovitz, Frances, 1938-1983, poet and broadcaster

  • Person
  • 1938-1983

Frances Horovitz (1938-85) was greatly loved and respected not only as a poet, but also as a broadcaster and performer of poetry. She was one of the finest poetry readers this country produced, possessing a rare ability to hear a poem and become its voice. She published four collections of poems, including Water Over Stone (Enitharmon Press, 1980) and Snow Light, Water Light (Bloodaxe Books, 1983). She died in 1983, aged 45, after a long illness. Her Collected Poems (1985) was edited by her husband, the poet and critic Roger Garfitt, with a new edition issued in 2011 with an audio CD of her reading her work included.

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