Skip to content

Charles Causley, the writer: a much-loved poet, and more

 

From a young age, Charles Causley always wanted to be a writer. For many years, he combined a career in primary-school teaching with his writing, but retired in order to write full time when he reached the age of 60.

After leaving school in Launceston, writing success understandably only came slowly and sporadically as Causley worked at a succession of full-time ordinary jobs in the town. Nevertheless, even in that situation, he had several plays published and broadcast on the BBC by the start of World War II.

It was joining the Royal Navy in 1940, and his wartime experiences until demobilisation in 1946, that proved crucial to Causley’s development as a writer — and especially as a poet. He found writing poetry far more manageable and appropriate for someone on active service, and that form continued to be his main output for the rest of his life.

Causley’s ‘Collected Poems 1951-2000’ contains the 265 poems he wished to be preserved. These span a wide variety of forms, styles, voices, tones and lengths — and deal with themes ranging from childhood memories and perspectives, through his wartime experiences and their subsequent impact, to the influences of faith, family and worldwide travel.

Causley’s poems have been included in many anthologies, and are still frequently broadcast. Amongst his best-known and best-loved pieces are ‘Timothy Winters’, ‘Eden Rock’, ‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and ‘Experience’, ‘The Seasons in North Cornwall’, ‘I Am the Great Sun’, ‘Ten Types of Hospital Visitor’, ‘At the British War Cemetery, Bayeux’, ‘Ballad of the Bread Man’ and ‘By St. Thomas Water’.

In addition to his poems, Charles Causley wrote short stories (published in the collection ‘Hands to Dance and Skylark’), short plays and libretti for setting to music, alongside many articles and memoirs. He also edited a number of poetry anthologies on themes such as magic, the sea and Christianity. Causley also presented BBC Radio’s ‘Poetry, Please’ for many years as well as appearing on many other radio and television programmes.

You can find a very clear and comprehensive bibliography of his many publications by clicking this link for the relevant page of the Charles Causley Trust’s website.