Freda Downie

Scope and Content

Consists of letters and proofs relating to the published poetry works of Freda Downie.

Administrative / Biographical History

Freda Downie (1929-93) was born in London, and spent her early years living in a temporary wooden house on the outskirts at Shooters Hill, from where she roamed the lanes and woods of the nearby Kent countryside. She was educated in Britain and Australia, and latterly lived in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire. She worked for music publishers and art agents for many years, and only began publishing her poems in the 1970s, in limited editions. Two full collections, A Stranger Here (1977) and Plainsong (1981) followed from Secker & Warburg. She completed a further collection, Forty Poems, which was not published. Her Collected Poems, edited by George Szirtes, was published posthumously by Bloodaxe Books in 1995. In 2003 Bloodaxe published her memoir, There'll Always Be an England: a poet's childhood, 1929-1945, written in the last year of her life, covers the most vivid and formative times in her early life, which included evacuation to Northamptonshire in September 1939, a return to London in time for the Battle of Britain and the Blitz; then the family’s hazardous sea voyage from November 1941 to February 1942 around the Cape to her father’s war work in Australia, and the return in 1944 across the Pacific and though the Panama Canal to a London under threat from the V1 and V2 bombs.

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