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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

William Empson Remembered

Today in Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, a plaque was unveiled, by his son, to the poet and critic, Sir William Empson, who lived in this Bloomsbury Street after he was expelled from Cambridge in the late 1920s and who wrote a substantial part of his famous work of literary criticism, Seven Types of Ambiguity, in the flat above what is now a Bangladeshi food store.

Passers-by were intrigued to watch a collection of writers and scholars who had gathered to hear Empson's poem about the British Museum read for the first and perhaps the last time in a Bloomsbury shopping street.  The crowd included a sprinkling of professors, a former poetry editor of Faber and Faber, the diarist of the TLS (the famous "J.C."), the mayor of Camden, and even yours truly who was handed the microphone at one point only to stammer out a plug for his own book, Real Bloomsbury, which contains an account of Empson's residence.  Another of his sons told me that one night Empson and Dylan Thomas returned from a boozy evening in Fitzrovia and were found the next morning each rolled up in the carpet where they had fallen the night before.

I think they may have exceeded their number of units on that occasion.

1 comment:

Richard Warren said...

Don't know if this might be of interest? http://richardawarren.wordpress.com/in-the-basement-of-hyper-intelligence-the-poetry-of-william-empson/