This site makes available the entire literary output of John Bradburne - or, at least, as much as has so far come to light. It consists almost entirely of poetry; just a few pieces are in prose, included in the database because they shed light on his writing. The corpus contains a few poems dating from as early as 1945, but the vast majority were written between 1968 and 1979. Some of the material is in manuscript, but most of the poems are in typescript, often in a stencilled form.
As John Bradburne preferred to write in poetry, he sent letter-poems to many people, so it is likely that there are more of these lying in drawers and attics around the world. He would also write fragments of poems in the margins of the books he was reading, and many of these have not yet been found or transcribed. If you have a poem of his in your possession, therefore, or encounter one in an unexpected place, please check the corpus to see if we already have it. If not, we would very much welcome a copy, in the interests of making the Bradburne corpus as complete as possible.
The site contains 5569 items as of April 2016, including 151 pieces in prose. The poems contain altogether 169,527 lines.
The corpus has been compiled and edited by the British linguistics author and reference-book editor David Crystal: see www.davidcrystal.com. His first encounter with John Bradburne was in the early 1990s, as he recounts:
‘I left the full-time university world in 1984, and came back to Holyhead - where I was brought up - to carry on a career as a home-based writer and editor. We bought a house near the centre of town from people we knew - parents of a lad, Kevin Jones, who had been in my year in primary school. Eventually, we met Kevin once again: a professional cabaret musician now, widely known by his professional name of Casey Jones. Kevin would call in to the house, from time to time, to renew his memories of his old family home, and one day he brought out of his pocket an airmail letter, and asked me ‘Have you ever seen anything like this?’ It was a letter from John Bradburne to Kevin, written entirely in poetry.
It appeared that Kevin worked as a teacher in missionary settings in East Africa during the late 1960s, and when he and his friends had some time off they would travel around the southern parts of the continent. On one of these trips, they all had their money and passports stolen, so they hitch-hiked back to their base relying on the help of missionary centres along the way. And at Archbishop’s House in Salisbury Kevin first met John Bradburne and Father John Dove. Some time later, he was in the area again, but went down with a bout of malaria, and was looked after by - John Bradburne. They had a shared interest in music, and after Kevin left Africa they corresponded a few times.
I had never seen anything like the poem-letter that Kevin showed me. And then I asked the question which today seems rather naive: ‘Is there any more around like that?’ Kevin put me in touch with Celia Brigstocke, and not long afterwards a large case arrived filled with manuscripts. If they were placed in a pile, they would have reached my waist. The rest is history.’
All rights, including copyright, in the poems contained in and the general content of the pages of this website are owned or controlled for these purposes by The John Bradburne Memorial Society (‘the Society’).
In accessing these web pages, you agree that you may only use or download the content for your own personal non-commercial use.
You are not permitted to copy, download, store (in any form), transmit, show or play in public, adapt or change in any way the poems or other content of these web pages for any other purpose whatsoever without the prior written permission of the Society. For further information, please contact the Secretary, Celia Brigstocke, at P O Box 32, Leominster, Herefordshire HR6 0YB.