The poet and politician John Enoch Powell was born in Birmingham. He studied classics at Cambridge University and became Professor of Greek at Sydney University, Australia in 1937 at the age of just 25. He returned to England at the outbreak of the Second World War and enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire regiment, where he quickly rose up the ranks from private to brigadier. On leaving the army, at the end of the war, he worked as a political researcher for the Conservative Party, before being elected as the member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South-West in 1950, the seat he held for the next 24 years. His strong stance against what he considered to be disastrously lax immigration policies led to his sacking from the shadow cabinet, following his infamous "Rivers of Blood" speech in Birmingham in April 1968. He was also firmly against joining the European Common Market, a part of the Conservative Party manifesto. He dramatically quit his party, re-entering Parliament as a Unionist MP for the constituency of Down South, Northern Ireland, which he continued to represent until losing his seat in 1987.
He wrote four books of verse. First poems was published in 1937, to be followed two years later with Casting off. In 1951 he published two collections, Dancer's end and The wedding gift. He was very much influenced by the writing of A. E. Housman (1859-1936), following the same style and thematic content. After his long career in politics came to an end he concentrated again on writing and his poetry was re-published in Collected poems (1990). A controversial study of St. Matthew's Gospel, The evolution of the Gospel, followed in 1994.
The following works are available in the West Midlands Creative Literature Collection:-
Dancer's end and The wedding gift
Joseph Chamberlain (1977)
Still to decide
Wrestling with the angel
Page created 26 November 2001 and last updated 9 November 2007
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