Roy Fuller was born in 1912, under what conjunction of planets I do not know, but the place of his birth was somewhere between Manchester and Oldham. His next stop was Blackpool, where he attended the High School until the age of 16. He might even in those distant days have been expected to go on at the age of 17 or 18 to a university, but, whether through parental or his own native caution or some other cause, he was instead articled to a local solicitor and was admitted in 1934. His real career began in 1938 when he was appointed Assistant Solicitor to the Woolwich and Equitable Building Society, a post to which he returned after serving in the Navy from 1941 to 46. In 1958 he became Solicitor to the Society, and in 1969 a director, as he apparently still is. Respectable as this career is in itself, his public distinction has come from another source. In 1968 his employers, as he has himself recorded, 'understandingly' consented to his being nominated for the Chair of Poetry at Oxford; it was on his election that he relinquished his full-time employment and became a member of the board. Other marks of favour followed: a CBE and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1970; in 1972 he became a Governor of the BBC, and in 1976 a Member of the Arts Council. Might one not assume, of such a man, that he never gave anyone in authority a moment's uneasiness? His record at the Arts Council shows that it is not as simple as that.
LRB 18 July 1985 | PDF Download