The work of the poet Peter Redgrove is one of the great unexplored treasures of late twentieth century literature. His prolific output presents an intriguing variety of personae: magician, scientist, lover, psychologist, joker, madman. It is only now, with the publication of his Collected Poems and this biography, that we can see how and why these personae developed – and discover the full depth and range of this visionary writer.
Born into an apparently conventional middle-class family that was in reality deeply disturbed, the poet finally emerged: transforming himself from the neurotic, Oedipal young scientist, through a process of mental breakdown, insulin coma therapy, erotic revelation and the discovery of poetic companionship at Cambridge – and particularly his friendship and rivalry with Ted Hughes.
Neil Roberts explores the inner story of this emergence, and Redgrove’s later development through marriage, family life, the fellowship of the ‘Group’, alcoholic excess, infidelity and marital breakdown to his triumphant later partnership with Penelope Shuttle. We also discover, for the first time, some darker secrets: his fascination with Aleister Crowley, his damaged and damaging relationship with his father, and the lifelong sexual fetish which he called the ‘Game’. Drawing on the poet’s intimate journals and correspondence, and interviews with family, friends and colleagues, A Lucid Dreamer tells the exceptionally inward and revealing story of an astonishing creative life.
About the author
Neil Roberts was born in Manchester and educated in Latymer Upper School, London, and Clare College, Cambridge. He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield, where he has taught for thirty-eight years. He wrote the first critical study of Peter Redgrove, The Lover, the Dreamer and the World, and knew the poet well during the last twenty years of his life. His other books include Ted Hughes: A Literary Life, and works on D. H. Lawrence, George Eliot and George Meredith. He lives in Derbyshire.