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Edwin Muir

(1887—1959) poet and literary critic


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(1887–1959)

British poet, critic, and translator. He was awarded the CBE in 1953.

Muir was born on Orkney and was brought up in rural Scotland until he was fourteen, when his family moved to Glasgow. There Muir worked unhappily as a clerk. In World War I he was rejected as physically unfit for active service. Although he had contributed to New Age from 1913, Muir's literary career really began with his marriage to Willa Anderson (1919). They left Glasgow for London, where Muir became assistant editor on New Age, and between 1921 and 1927 spent much time on the Continent. During this period they collaborated on translations of several distinguished European novelists, notably Kafka, making them available for the first time to an English readership. Muir also wrote some important critical studies: Latitudes (1924) and Transition (1927), which contain high praise for the works of D. H. Lawrence.

From 1942 Muir worked for the British Council, first in Edinburgh (1942–45), then in Prague (1945–48), and finally in Rome (1949–50). He was then warden of Newbattle Abbey, near Edinburgh (1950–55), and became Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard (1955–56), before retiring to live near Cambridge. His autobiography (1954) contains some of the visionary qualities of his best poetry, most of which was written when he was over fifty. The Voyage (1946) and The Labyrinth (1949) were his first major collections, followed by Collected Poems (1952) and One Foot in Eden (1956).

Subjects: Literature


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