Bernard Spencer was a distinctive voice in 20th century English poetry, and a central figure in the Personal Landscape group of wartime Cairo writers. He spent much of his life working for the British Council, in Greece, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Austria, the settings for many of his poems. His expatriate colleagues included Lawrence Durrell and Olivia Manning. Living for many years in non-English-speaking communities, he became, quite consciously, ‘a stranger here’, a poet whose subtly inventive techniques served to fix and define modes of personal, cultural and political unease. Based on Roger Bowen’s pioneering Collected Poems (1981), this new edition of Bernard Spencer’s works is the first to include all his poetry, his translations from George Seferis, Odysseus Elytis and Eugenio Montale, and selections of his prose – including critical and travel writings, memoirs and interviews.
"Open, immediate, formally adept, full of cross-currents of tone and passion and the proofs of a thoughtful, sensual life, the best poems of Bernard Spencer (1909–1963) stand proud of the page... The best of Spencer's work testifies to the power of valuing and making 'something that stays'... [Peter] Robinson's book makes a wealth of archival material available to existing fans; more important, it offers new readers the chance to discover this fascinating poet."
France Leviston, The Guardian
"Robinson opens Spencer's work up again for redefinition, presenting the 'detailed portrait'... to which [Lawrence] Durrell looked forward."
Robert Wells, TLS
Bernard Spencer (1909-63) was born in Madras, India. He published just two full collections of poetry in his lifetime: Aegean Islands and Other Poems (1946) and With Luck Lasting (1963). While on holiday in 1963, Spencer began to suffer from an undiagnosed illness, and was later found dead beside a railway line in unexplained circumstances.