Someone famously said that it only took 341 years for Britain to come to its senses. This of course has nothing to do with royals breaking the mould, being able to access Australian betting sites online, or inland cricket policies. It only took 341 years for Britain to appoint its very first female Poet Laureate.
Dame Carol Ann Duffy in 2009 stepped into the greatest of literary footsteps when she smashed a societal mould as old as English literary culture itself. Britain’s first female Poet Laureate faced a daunting task indeed, which would be to fill the shoes of the likes of Ted Hughes and William Wordsworth. For this very reason, Duffy thought long and hard and with great caution about whether to accept the appointment or not.
The then-53-year-old later told the story of how she had decided to leave the final decision to her then-13-year-old daughter. The response came quick and easy, “Yes mummy, there’s never been a woman.”
Early Family And Schooling
But gender equality and all that aside, who exactly is the person behind the phenomenal poet? Born in Glasgow (Scotland), Duffy moved with her family to Staffordshire (England) at a young age. Having lived most of her childhood years in Staffordshire, she eventually in 1977 graduated from the University of Liverpool having successfully completed a degree in Philosophy.
Duffy in all likelihood inherited her versatile nature and personality from her father. Dad Frank did not only work as a fitter at English Electric, but he also had a keen interest in soccer and managed the Stafford Rangers during his free time. In addition to work and soccer, he’s said to have had a heart for the working man and woman and went on to stand as a parliamentary candidate for Britain’s Labour Party.
Published At Sixteen
At the time of her appointment as professor of poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, Duffy’s love for writing went way further back. She published her first poem at the age of 16. But only in 1999 did the magnificent wordsmith truly become a name known to many. It was in 1999 that her “The World’s Wife” was published; an anthology of poems quite remarkable mainly because of the fact that every poem in the collection is written from the point of view of the wife of a different major historical persona.
Duffy then went on to win the highly sought after TS Elliot prize in 2005. The prize was awarded to her for her a collection of love poems titled Rapture. She would go on to win various other literary prizes and top poetry awards, including the Dylan Thomas award, the Somerset Maugham award, the Forward prize and the Whitbread Poetry prize.
Those Pesky Royals!
Before having taken up the post of Poet Laureate, Duffy had on various occasions declared quite publicly that she did not see herself ever writing about big royal events such as weddings or funerals. She eventually did, what with covering royal stories being one of the major non-benefits that goes along with being Britain’s national poet but chose to focus on people coming together in marriage or civil union instead of on royal sensation.