Cecil Day-Lewis (1904 - 1972) MP

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Nicknames: "Nicholas Blake"
Birthplace: Ballintubber, Co. Laois, Ireland
Death: Died in Hadley Wood,, Hertfordshire, England
Occupation: Irish poet, novelist and the British Poet Laureate
Managed by: Erica Isabel Howton, (c)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Cecil Day-Lewis

He was an Irish poet and the British Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972. He also wrote mystery stories under pseudonym of Nicholas Blake. He is the father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis and documentary filmmaker and television chef Tamasin Day-Lewis.

Day-Lewis was born in Ballintubber, Queen's County (now County Laois), Ireland. He was the son of the Reverend Frank Cecil Day-Lewis (December, 1872 – 19 April 1938) and Kathleen Squires. After Day-Lewis's mother died in 1906, he was brought up in London by his father, with the help of an aunt, spending summer holidays with relatives in Wexford. Day-Lewis continued to regard himself as "Anglo-Irish" for the remainder of his life, though after the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1948 he chose British rather than Irish citizenship, on the grounds that 1940 had taught him where his deepest roots lay. He was educated at Sherborne School and at Wadham College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1927.

In 1928 he married Mary King, the daughter of a Sherborne master (i.e. teacher), and worked as a schoolmaster in three schools. During the 1940s he had a long and troubled love affair with the novelist Rosamund Lehmann. His second marriage was to actress Jill Balcon.

Headstone of Cecil Day-Lewis in the Stinsford churchyard.

During the Second World War he worked as a publications editor in the Ministry of Information, an institution satirised by George Orwell in his dystopian Nineteen Eighty-Four, but equally based on Orwell's experience of the BBC.

After the war he joined the publisher Chatto & Windus as a director and senior editor. In 1946 Day-Lewis was a lecturer at Cambridge University, publishing his lectures in The Poetic Image (1947). In 1951 he married the actress Jill Balcon, daughter of Michael Balcon. He later taught poetry at Oxford, where he was Professor of Poetry from 1951-1956. From 1962-1963 Day-Lewis was the Norton Professor at Harvard University.

Day-Lewis's two marriages yielded four children,including Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, food writer and journalist Tamasin Day-Lewis, and TV critic and writer Sean Day-Lewis, who wrote a biography of his father, C. Day Lewis: An English Literary Life (1980).

Day-Lewis was chairman of the Arts Council Literature Panel, vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Member of the Irish Academy of Letters and a professor of rhetoric at Gresham College, London.

Day-Lewis died from pancreatic cancer on May 22, 1972, in the Hertfordshire home of Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard, where he and his wife were staying. He was a great admirer of Thomas Hardy, and he had arranged to be buried as close as possible to the author's grave in Stinsford churchyard. His epitaph reads: "Shall I be gone long? / For ever and a day / To whom there belong? / Ask the stone to say / Ask my song"

Poetry collections:

   * Transitional Poem (1929)
   * From Feathers To Iron (1932)
   * Collected Poems 1929–1933 (1935)
   * A Time To Dance And Other Poems (1935)
   * Overtures to Death (1938)
   * Short Is the Time (1945)
   * Collected Poems (1954)
   * Pegasus and Other Poems (1957)
   * The Whispering Roots and Other Poems (1970)
   * The Complete Poems of C.Day-Lewis(1992)

Novels written as Nicholas Blake:

   * A Question of Proof (1935)
   * Thou Shell of Death (1936) (also published as Shell of Death)
   * There's Trouble Brewing (1937)
   * The Beast Must Die (1938)
   * The Smiler With The Knife (1939)
   * Malice in Wonderland (1940) (US title: The Summer Camp Mystery)
   * The Case of the Abominable Snowman (1941) (also published as The Corpse in the Snowman)
   * Minute for Murder (1947)
   * Head of a Traveller (1949)
   * The Dreadful Hollow (1953)
   * The Whisper in the Gloom (1954) (also published as Catch and Kill)
   * A Tangled Web (1956) (also published as Death and Daisy Bland)
   * End of Chapter (1957)
   * A Penknife in my Heart (1958)
   * The Widow's Cruise (1959)
   * The Worm of Death (1961)
   * The Deadly Joker (1963)
   * The Sad Variety (1964)
   * The Morning After Death (1966)
   * The Private Wound (1968)

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Day-Lewis

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0086671/

Poets' Graves: http://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/day-lewis.htm

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Cecil Day-Lewis's Timeline

1904
April 27, 1904
Ballintubber, Co. Laois, Ireland
1912
1912
- 1917
Age 7
Westminster, London, United Kingdom
1917
1917
- present
Age 12
Sherborne, Dorset, United Kingdom
1923
1923
- present
Age 18
Oxford, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
1928
1928
Age 23
Sherborne, Dorset, England, United Kingdom
1951
1951
Age 46
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
1957
April 29, 1957
Age 53
Greenwich, Greater London, UK
1972
May 22, 1972
Age 68
Hadley Wood,, Hertfordshire, England