Berry, Francis 1915-2006

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Berry, Francis 1915-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born March 23, 1915, in Ipoh, Malaya; died October 10, 2006. A retired English professor, Berry was also a noted poet whose verses were influenced by Anglo-Saxon and Nordic literature. Surviving an unpleasant youth as his mother died in childbirth and his father treated him cruelly, he was apprenticed to a lawyer before matriculating at what is now Exeter University in 1937. World War II interrupted his studies, and he was shipped to Malta with the British Army in 1939. His education was acknowledged, however, and Berry was allowed to spend much of his time teaching at St. Edward's College. The war made the island a dangerous place, and it was frequently bombed, an experience that would make its way into his poems and plays. With the war over, Berry returned to England. He completed a B.A. at Exeter University in 1947 and an M.A. in 1950. Already on the Sheffield University faculty by 1947, Berry would teach there through 1970. He then moved to Royal Hollway College, London, where he continued as a professor of English literature and language until he retired in 1980. Berry's poetry was remarkable for being reminiscent of old Anglo-Saxon writings, but some critics have also compared the strong rhythms to modern rap lyrics. Among his verse collections are Gospel of Fire (1933), The Iron Christ (1938), The Galloping Centaur: Poems 1935-1951 (1952; revised edition, 1970), and From the Red Fort (1984). Interested in the history of Greenland and its early settlement by Vikings, he penned the 1965 radio play Illnesses and Ghosts at the West Settlement (1965), published poems on the topic in Ghosts of Greenland (1966), and edited I Tell of Greenland: An Edited Translation of the Saudharkrokur Manuscripts (1977). His last published work was 1994's Collected Poems.



Times (London, England), October 21, 2006, p. 79.