Ronnie Blythe (with permission) on "The Poet in Love".

18th July 2014
Dear Roger,
Well, one more John Clare Festival has taken place – the thirty-second!  Amazingly.  Few English writers have experienced such a constant attention.  It was, as nearly always, a lovely summer’s day and the Barnack stone village was baking.  And then the familiar faces and the long drive home – ninety miles!
I read, or re-read, The Poet in Love before setting out.  It is a delight; beautifully presented and even revolutionary in its demand that we should look at Clare ‘passionately’ and practically.  You have re-instated Patty – ‘the cut of her face always delighted me more than any other & had I not seen her my attempts a poetry would not have been resumed after my revoval at Casterton’ – and you have dethroned Mary Joyce.    The book makes us look at Clare in a fresh way – and this is no easy matter considering the stream of Clare criticism.  Anne Lee’s illustrations are fascinating – a kind of poetry in themselves.
Did you send copies to the Helpston bookstall?  I hope so.  The trouble with these festivals for me is that I get overwhelmed with meeting so many people and having to do so many things, all in a few hours, that I return here knowing that I have missed a lot.  But I so truly think that The Poet in Love is a remarkable addition to our knowledge of the poet as well as being an imaginative production.  Arbour Editions has to be congratulated.  (...)  Thus the poet has been gloriously served this year.  And my Clare shelf begins to sag with heavy volumes, each wondrous to behold, and each distinctive and lovely to possess.
I doubt if many people would have known that Clare reworked the Fifth Elegy of the First Book of Ovid – And I hugely look forward to “In the Shadows” – good title – and I hope Eric Robinson will be able to work for a long time to come in the seemingly endless archives.  He looked so fragile, dear old friend.  I hope he has ceased to worry about the youthful scholars in his wake.  They are hugely in his debt.
I hope you will be able to sell that splendid Handmade edition.  I don’t doubt that you will.  Meanwhile, in view of this year’s Clare harvest, I will have to give extra space in the library to such beautiful books.  Thank you for the important contributions to Clare studies,
and love from


"Poet in Love' can still be obtained from me, more details may be found here :

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