William Empson

Standard Name: Empson, William
Birth Name: William Empson
WE 's Times obituary called him one of the most distinguished and widely influential English poets, critic[s] and university teachers of this century.
“The Times Digital Archive 1785-2007”. Thompson Gale: The Times Digital Archive.
(16 April 1984): 18
Though his output was relatively small (and a good deal of his prose writing uncollected during his lifetime), his difficult poetry (fifty-six poems in print at the time of his death) and revolutionary criticism made an instant impact which continues to reverberate.
“The Times Digital Archive 1785-2007”. Thompson Gale: The Times Digital Archive.
(16 April 1984): 18


Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Family and Intimate relationships Fay Weldon
They had to wait to be married until their respective divorces came through. The witnesses to the marriage were William Empson and his wife Hetta
Weldon, Fay. Mantrapped. Fourth Estate.
FW felt that her second marriage gave focus to...
Friends, Associates Q. D. Leavis
Two of her contemporaries as undergraduates were Muriel Bradbrook (at Girton) and William Empson (whom her future husband, F. R. Leavis , came to admire especially).
MacKillop, Ian. F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism. Allen Lane.
85-6, 100
Friends, Associates Kathleen Raine
KR felt she was an outsider at Cambridge because she did not come from the upper or upper-middle classes, and because many of her friends there were also outsiders for various reasons. However, they did...
Intertextuality and Influence Kathleen Raine
For KR , poetic tradition was that of the major romantic poets, headed by Blake and followed by Coleridge , Yeats , and Edwin Muir . She was at Girton when a generation of Cambridge...
Literary responses Gerard Manley Hopkins
Almost all reviewers were baffled by GMH 's poetry at its first appearance, and chose to think of Bridges as indulging an eccentric personal loyalty. When the second edition was published in 1930, on the...
Literary responses Kathleen Nott
In the TLSG. S. Fraser remarked that her poetry was difficult but rewarding, and likened it in different aspects to that of Dylan Thomas , George Barker , and William Empson . He concluded:...
Literary responses Dylan Thomas
Reviewers were not quite so generally enthusiastic as over his first collection. Edith Sitwell , however, this time published a review in the Sunday Times, and her praise prompted an energetic correspondence which helped...
Occupation Una Marson
UM was featured alongside Mulk Raj Anand , William Empson , and T. S. Eliot on the BBC 's radio magazine programme Voice edited by Eric Blair (George Orwell) .
Jarrett-Macauley, Delia. The Life of Una Marson, 1905-65. Manchester University Press.
Publishing Kathleen Raine
KR knew as a child that poetry was her vocation. Her mother wrote down her poems before she could hold a pencil herself.
Watts, Janet. “Kathleen Raine”. The Guardian, p. 25.
As an undergraduate she had poems published by William Empson in...
Reception Laura Riding
LR always maintained she was uninterested in her reputation and would take no steps to assist it—though she did care that the record should be accurate, and to that end she wrote a lengthy article...
Textual Features Elizabeth Bishop
The volume reproduces in facsimile no fewer than sixteen drafts of one of EB 's best-known poems, One Art; Quinn's notes include snippets of rejection letters from the New Yorker.
White, Gillian. “Awful but Cheerful”. London Review of Books, pp. 8-10.
The passages...
Textual Production Laura Riding
Its working title was Modernist Poetry Explained to the Plain Man. The first print-runs were a thousand copies in England and five hundred in the USA. A second impression followed in England in...


1 October 1954: In the Movement, a leading article in the...

Writing climate item

1 October 1954

In the Movement, a leading article in the Spectator, identified a newly sceptical and debunking tendency in modern British poetry, opposed to social hierarchy and cultural authority, including that of modernism.


Empson, William. “<span data-tei-ns-tag="tei_title" data-tei-title-lvl=‘m’>Illustrations of Political Economy</span>. Mrs. Marcet—Miss Martineau”. Edinburgh Review, Vol.
, pp. 1-39.
Empson, William. Milton’s God. Chatto and Windus, 1961, p. 280 pp.
Empson, William. Poems. Chatto and Windus, 1935, p. viii; 48 pp.
Empson, William. Seven Types of Ambiguity. Chatto and Windus, 1930, p. 325 pp.
Empson, William. Some Versions of Pastoral. Chatto and Windus, 1935.
Empson, William. The Gathering Storm. Faber and Faber, 1940.
Empson, William. The Structure of Complex Words. Chatto and Windus, 1951.
Empson, William. Using Biography. Chatto and Windus, 1984.