Literary Connections: making the right connections with literature
World's Wife
Playfully subverts
yesterday's myths
Meeting Midnight
A lovely collection
for younger readers
Carol Ann Duffy: The Hat
A poetic journey

Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy, born on 23 December 1955, is 'a self-confessed atheist' who writes carols, a playful subverter of yesterday's myths, winner of the 2006 TS Eliot poetry prize and now Britain's Poet Laureate. As The Guardian said, 'In the world of British poetry, Carol Ann Duffy is a superstar. Highbrow and lowbrow, readers love her.'

Works by Carol Ann Duffy
  • The World's Wife (1999) - the edition set for AQA English Literature A, Paper LTA3. This is also available as an audiobook.
  • The Other Country (1990)
  • Mean Time (1993)
  • Feminine Gospels (2002)
  • Rapture (2005): you can read 'Land' from this work on this Guardian page and an enthusiastic review by Margaret Reynolds: 'Buy it. Keep it. Give it away.' Winner of the 2006 TS Eliot poetry prize, it was praised as 'a coherent and passionate collection'. More in the Guardian
  • Meeting Midnight (1999): if you like Carol Ann Duffy's work for adults, try this lovely collection for younger readers. The last poem in the collection, 'A Child's Sleep', is just one of many that will make teachers want to use this book in class straight away!
  • The Hat (2007): the title poem of this collection of verse for children is a seven-page journey through the canon of poetry in English. Read more in Carol Ann Duffy's interview in The Guardian, 26 May 2007.
  • Selected Poems (2006): selections from Standing Female Nude, Selling Manhattan, The Other Country, Mean Time and The World's Wife
The World's Wife
This highly enjoyable collection demands, for a full appreciation, some understanding of the legends, ancient and modern, that Carol Ann Duffy re-works. Wikipedia would be a good place to start research.

See also:

Mrs Beast
Peter Forbes, on the British Council site, refers to echoes of Philip Larkin in Carol Ann Duffy's work. It's perhaps not surprising to find a reference to Auden, too. I'd marked hundreds of essays on 'Mrs Beast' from The World's Wife without once seeing a reference to the parody of Auden in the last line. But then it wasn't really relevant to the question - and I only realised it myself when, a few weeks later, I came across these lines quoted in Peter Carey's magnificent My Life as a Fake (a novel that would itself make an interesting text for A Level):
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me
The lines are from Auden's 'The More Loving One', which you can find online here. Auden's poem begins
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
This, in its turn, is a connection of sorts to Larkin's poem Sad Steps, which describes the moon as "High and preposterous and separate" and is the subject of another page on this site.
Carol Ann Duffy on the Web
  • British Council Contemporary Writers on Carol Ann Duffy: brief biography, bibliography and critical perspective, which notes that 'several of her poems uncannily echo Larkin in theme'. See below for an echo of Auden, too!
  • Carol Ann Duffy - Poetry Quartets: on another page on the British Council site there's an opportunity to hear Carol Ann Duffy introduce and read three of her poems, including Mrs Tiresias from The World's Wife.
  • Sheerpoetry: poetry workshops by Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Seamus Heaney, Simon Armitage and others - a modest subscription is required to access the materials
  • The Knitting Circle on Carol Ann Duffy: a more detailed biography, list of works, bibliography and a selection of press cuttings that could provide discussion starters.
  • Metre maid: The Guardian interview with Carol Ann Duffy from 25 September 1999, with the main focus on her newly published collection The World's Wife.
  • Carol Ann Duffy: Street-wise heroines at home: Christina Patterson of The Independent on 2 October 1999 interviews the poet on the occasion of the publication of The World's Wife. Ignore the repeated first paragraph and read on for some interesting comments on the poetry.
  • New!Mrs Scrooge: A new poem for Christmas 2008 written for the Guardian Review by Carol Ann Duffy and ilustrated by Posy Simmonds
The Manchester Carols
In 2007, Carol Anne Duffy wrote a set of sixteen Manchester Carols, set to music by Sasha Johnson Manning. Read more about them, including Carol Ann Duffy's own views on the Christmas story, on the Christmas page. You can hear samples and buy the CD on the Manchester Carols website.