Charles Causley (1917-2003)

Death: 4th November 2003
Location: St Thomas Churchyard, Launceston, Cornwall, England
Photo taken by: Tony Atkin
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Cornish poet, schoolmaster and writer. His work is noted for its simplicity and directness and for its associations with folklore, especially when linked to his native Cornwall. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, as a coder, an experience he later wrote about in a book of short stories, Hands to Dance and Skylark. His first collection of poems, Farewell, Aggie Weston (1951) contained his Song of the Dying Gunner A.A.1. Survivor's Leave followed in 1953, and from then until his death Causley published frequently. 
An intensely private person, he was nevertheless approachable. He was a friend of such writers as Siegfried Sassoon, A. L. Rowse, Jack Clemo and Ted Hughes. His poems for children were popular, and he used to say that he could have lived comfortably on the fees paid for the reproduction of Timothy Winters
In 1958, Causley was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a CBE in 1986. When he was 83 years old he was made a Companion of Literature by the Royal Society of Literature: he greeted this award with the words, 'My goodness, what an encouragement!' Other awards include the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 1967. 
There was a campaign to have him appointed Poet Laureate on the death of Sir John Betjeman, but to the people of his home town, he became "the greatest poet laureate we never had". He was interviewed by Roy Plomley on Desert Island Discs on 1 December 1979: his music choices included five classical selections and three others while his chosen book was Boswell's Life of Johnson.