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Carol Ann Duffy (1955–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights

Born 1955, in Glasgow, Scotland; partner of Jackie Kay (a poet), beginning 1999; Education: University of Liverpool, B.A. (with honors), 1977.


Office—Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, Goffrey Manton Building, Rosamond St. W., off Oxford Rd., Manchester M15 6LL, England. Agent—Penny Tackaberry, Tessa Sayle Agency, 11 Jubilee Pl., London SW3 3TE, England.


Writer, 1977–. Poetry editor of Ambit magazine, beginning 1983; visiting fellow at North Riding College, 1985; writer-in-residence, Southern Arts, Thamesdown, 1987–88; Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, England, professor.


Society of Authors (panel member), Poetry Society (vice president), Royal Society of Literature (fellow).

Honors Awards

C. Day Lewis fellow of poetry for Greater London Arts Association, 1982–84; first prize, British Broadcasting Corporation National Poetry Competition, 1983, for "Whoever She Was"; Eric Gregory Award, British Society of Authors, 1984; Scottish Arts Council award, 1986, for Standing Female Nude, 1990, for The Other Country, 1993, for Mean Time; first prize, Poems about Painting competition, Peterloo Poets, 1986, for "The Virgin Punishing the Infant"; Somerset Maugham Award, 1988, for Selling Manhattan; Dylan Thomas Award, 1989; Cholmondeley Award, 1992; Forward Poetry Prize for Best Poetry Collection of a Year, and Whitbread Poetry Award, both 1993, both for Mean Time; Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, 1995; named to Order of the British Empire, 1995, named commander, 2001; Signal Poetry Award, 1997, for Stopping for Death; Whitbread Children's Book Award shortlist, 2000, for Meeting Midnight, honorary doctorates from University of Hull, University of Warwick, and Keele University; National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts grant, 2000.



(Editor and contributor) I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Anthology of Women's Poetry, illustrated by Trisha Rafferty, Viking (New York, NY), 1992, published as I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists, Holt (New York, NY), 1993.

(Adaptor) Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, Grimm Tales (plays), dramatized by Tim Supple, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1996.

(Editor) Stopping for Death: Poems of Death and Loss, illustrated by Trisha Rafferty, Holt (New York, NY), 1996.

(Adaptor) Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, More Grimm Tales, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1997.

(Editor) Meeting Midnight, illustrated by Eileen Cooper, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1999.

(Reteller) Rumpelstiltskin and Other Grimm Tales, illustrated by Marketa Prachaticka, Faber & Faber (London, England) 1999.

(With others) Five Finger-Piglets: Poems, illustrated by Peter Bailey, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 1999.

The Oldest Girl in the World, illustrated by Marketa Prachaticka, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2000.

Underwater Farmyard, illustrated by Joel Stewart, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2002.

Queen Munch and Queen Nibble, illustrated by Lydia Monks, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2002.

(Editor) Overhead on a Saltmarsh: Poets' Favourite Poems, Young Picador (London, England), 2003.

The Skipping-Rope Snake, illustrated by Lydia Monks, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2003.

The Good Child's Guide to Rock 'n' Roll, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2003.

The Stolen Childhood and Other Dark Fairy Tales, illustrated by Jane Ray, Puffin (London, England), 2003.

Beasts and Beauties: Eight Tales from Europe, dramatized by Tim Supple and Melly Still, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2004.

Doris the Giant, illustrated by Annabel Hudson, Puffin (London, England), 2004.

Moon Zoo, illustrated by Joel Stewart, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2005.


Fleshweathercock, and Other Poems, Outposts, 1973.

Fifth Last Song, Headland, 1982.

Standing Female Nude, Anvil Press Poetry, 1985, new edition, 1998.

Thrown Voices, Turret Books, 1986.

Selling Manhattan, Anvil Press Poetry (London, England), 1987.

(Editor) Home and Away, 1988.

The Other Country, Anvil Press Poetry (London, England), 1990.

Mean Time, Anvil Press Poetry (London, England), 1993.

Selected Poems, Penguin/Anvil Press Poetry (London, England), 1994.

The Pamphlet, Anvil Press Poetry (London, England), 1998.

(Editor) Time's Tidings: Greetings the Twenty-first Century: An Anthology, Anvil Press Poetry (London, England), 1999.

The World's Wife, Anvil Press Poetry (London, England), 1999, Faber & Faber (New York, NY), 2000.

The Salmon Carol Ann Duffy: Poems Selected and New 1985–1999, Salmon Publishing (Knockeven, County Clare, Ireland), 2000.

Selected Poems, notes by Michael J. Woods, Longman (Harlow, England), 2001.

(Editor) Hand in Hand: An Anthology of Love Poems, Picador (London, England), 2001.

Feminine Gospels, Picador (London, England), 2002, Faber & Faber (New York, NY), 2003.

New Selected Poems, Picador (London, England), 2004.

(Editor) Out of Fashion: An Anthology of Poems, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2004.

Rapture, Picador (London, England), 2005.

Contributor to Penguin Modern Poets, Volume 2: Carol Ann Duffy, Vicki Feaver, Eavan Boland, Penguin (London, England), 1995.


Take My Husband (two-act), produced in Liverpool, England, 1982.

Cavern of Dreams (two-act), produced in Liverpool, England, 1984.

Loss (one-act), broadcast by BBC-Radio, 1986.

Little Women, Big Boys (one-act), produced in London, England, 1986.


Several poems by Duffy were set to music by Aaron Jay Kernis as Valentines, Associated Music Publishers, 2000.


"In the world of British poetry, Carol Ann Duffy is a superstar," proclaimed Katharine Viner in a London Guardian review of Duffy's award-winning and best-selling verse collection The World's Wife. Duffy, who writes and edits numerous poetry collections and was a strong collector for British poet laureate after the 1998 death of Ted Hughes, has also penned a number of books for younger readers, including several illustrated adaptations of stories by the Brothers Grimm as well as original picture books such as Queen Much and Queen Nibble, The Stolen Childhood, and Moon Zoo.

Drawing on the stories originally collected by seventeenth-century German folklorists Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, Duffy joined playwright Tim Supple in creating stageable adaptations stories such as "Hansel and Gretel" and "The Golden Goose" in Grimm Tales and More Grimm Tales. Employing "a poet's vigor and economy" and "combining traditions of style with direct, colloquial dialogue," according to Vida Conway in School Librarian, the play collections are intended for older children and young adults to use in drama and English classes. While other European tales such as "Bluebeard" and "Beauty and the Beast" are also recast as dramas for teens in Beasts and Beauties: Eight Tales from Europe, Duffy returns to the Grimms' stories with an eye toward younger readers to produce Rumpelstiltskin and Other Grimm Tales, which features illustrations by Marketa Prachaticka.

According to many critics, works such as Moon Zoo, The Stolen Childhood, and Other Dark Fairy Tales, and the beginning chapter book Doris the Giant have enriched British literature due to Duffy's skill with language. In reviewing Moon Zoo for Reviewer's Bookwatch, Ann Skea noted that the author's "humour, her empathy with small children, and her versatility as a poet provide exactly the right words to stir the imagination." Moon Zoo introduces a lunar landscape full of magical, Earth-like creatures—everything from polar bears and penguins to baboons and hippos—that float in zero-gravity and dine on delicacies such as Neptune salad and a slice of Pluto pie served up by an eight-armed alien zookeeper. The Stolen Childhood contains a selection of short stories featuring haunting and sometimes macabre elements that, reflecting the darker side of human nature, will resonate equally with children and adults. Citing Duffy's "brief and delicate" verse, London Guardian contributor Julia Eccleshare called Moon Zoo a verbal "feast that inspires close attention," while in Writeaway Online Bridget Carrington praised The Stolen Childhood, noting that Duffy's "miniature tales … deserve to enter the genre as classics." Another Writeaway contributor, Sarah Mears, cited Doris the Giant as a "lively story" about an lonely giant who ultimately finds a loving companion, adding that the "vividly illustrated" beginning reader contains "some rather sweet jokes."

Among Duffy's edited poetry anthologies, several have been deemed particularly appropriate for young-adult readers. I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists features nearly seventy female poets, including such celebrated American writers as Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Nikki Giovanni, although British poets dominate the collection. The eighty-five poems collected here are grouped according to theme. Each grouping is approached from such a broad range of viewpoints "that young adults will find suitably subversive … and surprisingly traditional" treatments placed side by side in what Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books reviewer Betsy Hearne dubbed a "generous anthology." Nancy Vasilakis, writing in Horn Book, also highlighted the collection's diversity, noting that it "capture[s] the joys and burdens of womanhood in expressions that are by turns wistful, angry, turbulent, sad, funny, and wise." While a Kirkus Reviews critic wrote that "the whine of victimization is audible in several" poems, Doris Telford commented in School Librarian that I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine is a collection "most girls and women will enjoy."

Another anthology suitable for teen readers, Stopping for Death: Poems of Death and Loss collects verses that span four centuries and draw from many cultures in capturing "the mystery, grief, fear, and occasional gallows humor that surround death," as a Kirkus Reviews critic observed. Though the collection emphasizes variety, the poems selected by Duffy share a common "vision," as Sharon Korbeck noted in School Library Journal, giving "readers a deeper understanding of the impact of loss." As with the poet's earlier anthology, critics praised Duffy for her ability to assemble a range of poetic styles, viewpoints, approaches, and cultural and historical origins. In the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Hearne deemed Stopping for Death "an anthology so full and richly representative of both famous and lesser-known poets that any library … would be the better for it," while Hazel Rochman wrote in Booklist that the assembled poems "lift the spirit with their truthful feeling and words that sing."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Contemporary Women Poets, edited by Pamela Kester-Shelton, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Rees-Jones, Deryn, Carol Ann Duffy, 2nd edition, Northcote House, 2002.


Booklist, March 1, 1994, p. 1260; August, 1996, Hazel Rochman, review of Stopping for Death: Poems of Death and Loss, p. 1893.

Book Report, September, 1994, p. 49.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1994, Betsy Hearne, review of I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine: Poems for Young Feminists, pp. 184-185; September, 1996, Betsy Hearne, review of Stopping for Death, pp. 9-10.

Guardian (London, England), September 25, 1999, Katharine Viner, "Meter Maid," pp. 20, 26; February 26, 2005, Julia Eccleshare, review of Moon Zoo; October 9, 2005, Kate Kellaway, review of Rapture.

Horn Book, May, 1994, Nancy Vasilakis, review of I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine, p. 329.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1994, review of I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine, p. 66; June 15, 1996, review of Stopping for Death, p. 897; August, 1996, Sharon Korbeck, review of Stopping for Death, p. 168.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, May, 2004, Ann Skea, review of Moon Zoo.

School Librarian, November, 1992, Doris Telford, review of I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine, p. 154; May, 1996, Vida Conway, review of Grimm Tales, p. 70; summer, 2003, review of Queen Munch and Queen Nibble, p. 74; winter, 2003, review of Overheard on a Saltmarsh, p. 206; summer, 1999, review of Five Finger-Piglets, p. 96; summer, 2000, review of Rumpelstiltskin and Other Grimm Tales, p. 24; spring, 2004, Marie Imeson, review of The Good Child's Guide to Rock 'n' Roll, p. 39.

School Library Journal, January, 1994, p. 66.

Times Literary Supplement, March 3, 1995, p. 24; July 7, 1995, p. 32.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1994, p. 48; October, 1996, review of Stopping for Death, p. 238.


Contemporary Writers Online, http://www.contemporarywriters.com/ (October 20, 2005), "Carol Ann Duffy."

Knitting Circle Web site, http://www.myweb.lsbu.ac.uk/∼stafflag/ (October 20, 2005), "Carol Ann Duffy."

Writeaway, http://www.improbability.ultralab.net/writeaway/ (October 20, 2005), Sarah Mears, review of Doris the Giant, and Bridget Carrington, The Stolen Childhood.

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