Dannie Abse

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Dannie Abse
File:Dannie Abse.jpg
Born (1923-09-22)22 September 1923
Cardiff, Wales
Died 28 September 2014(2014-09-28) (aged 91)
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Wales College of Medicine,
King's College London.
Genre poetry
Notable awards Cholmondeley Award,
Wilfred Owen Poetry Award,
Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine
Spouse Joan Abse

Daniel Abse, CBE FRSL (22 September 1923 – 28 September 2014) was a Welsh poet.[1][2]

Early years

Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a Jewish family.[1] He was the younger brother of politician and reformer Leo Abse and the eminent psychoanalyst, Wilfred Abse. Abse first studied medicine at the University of Wales College of Medicine, and then at Westminster Hospital Medical School and King's College London.

Abse was a passionate supporter of Cardiff City. He first went to watch them play in 1934 and many of his writings refer to his experiences watching and lifelong love of The Bluebirds.

Career as poet

Although best known as a poet, Abse worked in the medical field, and was a specialist at a chest clinic for over thirty years. He received numerous literary awards and fellowships for his writing. In 1989, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Wales.

His first poetic volume, After Every Green Thing, was published in 1949.[1] His autobiographic work, Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve, was published in 1954. He won the Welsh Arts Council Award in both 1971 and 1987, and the Cholmondeley Award in 1985. He was a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature from 1983. In a foreword to "Collected Poems 1948-1976" Abse noted that his poems are increasingly 'rooted in actual experience', both domestic and professional, and many display a reconciliation between Jewish and Welsh themes and traditions.[3]

Abse lived for several decades in the northwest area of London, mainly near Hampstead where he has considerable ties. For several years he wrote a column for the "Ham & High" (Hampstead and Highgate Express) local newspaper. The articles were subsequently published in book form.

In 2005, his wife Joan Abse was killed in a car accident, while Abse suffered a broken rib. His poetry collection, Running Late, was published in 2006, and The Presence, a memoir of the year after his wife died, was published in 2007; it won the 2008 Wales Book of the Year award.[4] The book was later dramatised for BBC Radio 4. He was awarded the Roland Mathias prize for Running Late.[5]

In 2009 Abse brought out a volume of collected poetry. In the same year, he received the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award. Abse was a judge for the inaugural 2010 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine. Abse was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to poetry and literature.[6]

Dannie Abse died on 28 September 2014, aged 91.[7]


  • After Every Green Thing Hutchinson, 1948
  • Walking Under Water Hutchinson, 1952
  • Fire in Heaven Hutchinson, 1956
  • Mavericks: An Anthology (editor with Howard Sergeant) Editions Poetry and Poverty, 1957
  • Tenants of the House: Poems 1951-1956 Hutchinson, 1957
  • Poems, Golders Green Hutchinson, 1962
  • Poems! Dannie Abse: A Selection Vista/Dufour, 1963
  • Modern European Verse (editor) Vista, 1964
  • Medicine on Trial Aldus, 1967
  • Three Questor Plays Scorpion, 1967
  • A Small Desperation Hutchinson, 1968
  • Demo Sceptre, 1969
  • Selected Poems Hutchinson, 1970
  • Modern Poets in Focus 1 (editor) Corgi, 1971
  • Modern Poets in Focus 3 (editor) Corgi, 1971
  • Thirteen Poets (editor) Poetry Book Society, 1972
  • Funland and Other Poems Hutchinson, 1973
  • Modern Poets in Focus 5 (editor) Corgi, 1973
  • The Dogs of Pavlov Vallentine, Mitchell, 1973
  • A Poet in the Family Hutchinson, 1974
  • Penguin Modern Poets 26 (Dannie Abse, D. J. Enright and Michael Longley) Penguin, 1975
  • Collected Poems 1948-1976 Hutchinson, 1977
  • More Words BBC, 1977
  • My Medical School Robson, 1978
  • Pythagoras Hutchinson, 1979
  • Way Out in the Centre Hutchinson, 1981
  • A Strong Dose of Myself Hutchinson, 1983
  • One-legged on ice: poems University of Georgia Press, 1983
  • Doctors and Patients (editor) Oxford University Press, 1984
  • Ask the Bloody Horse Hutchinson, 1986
  • Journals From the Ant Heap Hutchinson, 1986
  • Voices in the Gallery: Poems and Pictures (editor with Joan Abse) Tate Gallery, 1986
  • The Music Lover's Literary Companion (editor with Joan Abse) Robson, 1988
  • The Hutchinson Book of Post-War British Poetry (editor) Hutchinson, 1989
  • White Coat, Purple Coat: Collected Poems 1948-1988 Hutchinson, 1989
  • People (contributor) National Language Unit of Wales, 1990
  • Remembrance of Crimes Past: Poems 1986-1989 Hutchinson, 1990
  • The View from Row G: Three Plays Seren, 1990
  • Intermittent Journals Seren, 1994
  • On the Evening Road Hutchinson, 1994
  • Selected Poems Penguin, 1994
  • The Gregory Anthology 1991-1993 (editor with A. Stevenson) Sinclair-Stevenson, 1994
  • Twentieth-Century Anglo-Welsh Poetry (editor) Seren, 1997
  • Welsh Retrospective Seren, 1997
  • Arcadia, One Mile Hutchinson, 1998
  • Be seated, thou: poems 1989-1998 Sheep Meadow Press, 1999
  • Encounters Hearing Eye, 2001
  • Goodbye, Twentieth Century: An Autobiography Pimlico, 2001
  • New and Collected Poems Hutchinson, 2002
  • The Two Roads Taken: A Prose Miscellany Enitharmon Press, 2003
  • Yellow Bird Sheep Meadow Press, 2004
  • Running Late Hutchinson, 2006
  • 100 Great Poems of Love and Lust: Homage to Eros (compiler and editor) Robson, 2007
  • The Presence Hutchinson, 2007
  • New Selected Poems 1949-2009: Anniversary Collection Hutchinson, 2009 (shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry)
  • Speak, Old Parrot Hutchinson, 2013


  • Ash on a Young Man's Sleeve (Hutchinson, 1954)
  • Some Corner of an English Field (Hutchinson, 1956)
  • O Jones, O Jones (Hutchinson, 1970)
  • There Was A Young Man From Cardiff (Hutchinson, 1991)
  • The Strange Case of Dr Simmonds & Dr Glas (Robson, 2002)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dannie Abse
  2. Dannie Abse - obituary
  3. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 6th Edition. Edited by Margaret Drabble, Oxford University Press, 2000 p2
  4. Dannie Abse
  5. "Dannie Abse". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 6 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60009. p. 6. 31 December 2011.
  7. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11126588/Dannie-Abse-obituary.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Further reading

  • Tony Curtis, Dannie Abse (1985) (Writers of Wales series)

External links