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D.J. Enright, 82; Was Major Figure Among Postwar British Poets

January 07, 2003|From Associated Press

LONDON — D.J. Enright, novelist, critic and one of the outstanding poets of postwar Britain, has died. He was 82.

Enright died Dec. 31 in London, his family said. The Guardian newspaper reported that the cause was cancer.

Although not the most famous of Britain's modern poets, he was greatly admired by critics, academics and his fellow poets.

Poet Blake Morrison, in an obituary written for The Guardian, called Enright the unsung hero of post-World War II British poetry and said, "It is hard to think of a poet whom other poets held in more affection."

Morrison said that warmth was for the artist and the man: "Gentle-mannered but uncompromising, tough-minded but humane, above all funny -- a person for whom the adjective 'sardonic' was invented."

Dennis Joseph Enright was born March 11, 1920, in Leamington Spa, central England.

He got his master's degree at Cambridge University before taking up a teaching post at Alexandria University in Egypt in 1947. He was a lecturer in English there until 1950, and in 1955 published his first novel, "Academic Year," set at the university.

He wrote four more novels and three books for children.

Enright met his wife, French artist Madeleine Harders, in Egypt, and they were married in 1949. He published "The Laughing Hyena," the first of 20 books of poetry, in 1953.

Enright lectured at the Free University of Berlin in 1956 and 1957 before becoming British Council professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. He was appointed professor of English at Singapore University in 1960.

Returning to England in 1970, Enright worked as an editor, reviewer, essayist and, eventually, anthologist. He was director of the publisher Chatto & Windus from 1974 to 1982.

The anthologies he edited included "The Oxford Book of Contemporary Poetry 1945-1980," published in 1980, "The Oxford Book of Death" (1983), "The Oxford Book of Friendship" (1991) and "The Oxford Book of the Supernatural" (1994).

Enright is survived by his wife and daughter.

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