Wendy Cope is one of Britain’s most popular poets: her first two collections have together sold almost half a million copies, and in 1998, when Ted Hughes died, she was the BBC listeners’ choice to succeed him as Poet Laureate. She is also contrarian and sometimes controversial, and has been celebrated as one of the finest parodists of her, or any, generation. It is perhaps surprising, then, that her popular appeal has been met with critical near-silence. After five major collections, Cope has received only piecemeal critical attention, mostly confined to book reviews. This is the first in-depth study of her poetry. Drawing on Cope’s published work, archival material and correspondence, Rory Waterman considers her main collections, her works for children and her uncollected poems, with many close readings, and detailed considerations of her cultural and literary contexts and her poetic development.
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