Sagar, Keith (Milsom) 1934-

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SAGAR, Keith (Milsom) 1934-

PERSONAL: Born June 14, 1934, in Bradford, York-shire, England; son of Harry Heald and Emily Maud (Milsom) Sagar; married Melissa Juli Partridge, June 13, 1981; children: Ursula, Arren. Education: King's College, Cambridge, B.A., 1955, M.A., 1957; University of Leeds, Ph.D., 1962. Politics: "Green." Religion: "Pantheism." Hobbies and other interests: The theatre, photography, wildlife and the countryside, gardening.

ADDRESSES: Home—11 Leys Close, Wiswell, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9DA, England.

CAREER: University of Leeds, Leeds, England, administrative assistant in extra-mural department, 1957-59; Workers' Educational Association, South York-shire, England, tutor-organizer, 1959-63; University of Manchester, Manchester, England, extra-mural department, staff tutor, 1963-74, senior staff tutor in literature, 1974-84, reader in English literature, 1984—. Military service: British Army, National Service, 1956.

MEMBER: D. H. Lawrence Society (honorary vice-president).

AWARDS, HONORS: Besterman medal from the Library Association of the United Kingdom, 1983, for Ted Hughes: A Bibliography.


The Art of D. H. Lawrence, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1966.

Hamlet (criticism), Basil Blackwell (Oxford, England), 1969.

Ted Hughes, Longman (London, England), 1972, revised edition, Profile Books (London, England), 1982.

The Art of Ted Hughes, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1975, revised edition, 1978.

Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights, British Council (London, England), 1975.

(Coauthor) The Love of Tropical Fish, Octopus (London, England), 1975.

D. H. Lawrence: A Calendar of His Works, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1979.

The Life of D. H. Lawrence, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1980, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1989.

The Reef and Other Poems, Ilkley Literature Festival/Proem Pamphlets (Ilkley, England), 1980.

(With Stephen Tabor) Ted Hughes: A Bibliography, 1946-1980, Mansell (London, England), 1983, 2nd edition published as Ted Hughes: A Bibliography, 1946-1995, 1998.

D. H. Lawrence: Life into Art, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1985.

The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes, Liverpool University Press (Liverpool, England), 2000.


D. H. Lawrence, The Mortal Coil and Other Stories, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1971.

D. H. Lawrence, The Princess and Other Stories, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1971.

D. H. Lawrence: Selected Poems, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1972.

(And contributor and photographer) The World Encyclopedia of Tropical Fish, Octopus (London, England), 1978.

D. H. Lawrence: Sons and Lovers, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1981.

(And contributor) A D. H. Lawrence Handbook, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1982.

(And contributor and author of introduction) D. H. Lawrence and New Mexico, Peregrine Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1982.

(With wife, Melissa Partridge) D. H. Lawrence: The Complete Short Novels, Penguin Books (New York, NY), 1982.

(And contributor) The Achievement of Ted Hughes, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1982, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1983.

(With James T. Boulton) The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Volume 7, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1993.

(And contributor) The Challenge of Ted Hughes, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1994.


Also contributor to books, including Criticism in Action, edited by Hussey, Longmans, Green (London, England), 1969; The Art of Emily Bronte, edited by Ann Smith, Vision Press, 1976; D. H. Lawrence: The Man Who Lived, edited by Partlow and Moore, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1980; D. H. Lawrence: A Celebration, D. H. Lawrence Society, 1985; The Modernists, edited by Gamache and MacNiven, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (Rutherford, NJ), 1987; and Critical Essays on Ted Hughes, edited by Leonard M. Scigaj, G. K. Hall (London, England), 1992; The Epic Poise: A Celebration of Ted Hughes, edited by Nick Gammage, Faber and Faber (London, England), 1999; Lire Ted Hughes, edited by Joanny Moulin, Editions du Temps (Paris, France), 2000; The Poetry of Ted Hughes: A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism, edited by Sandie Byrne, Icon Books (Cambridge, England), 2000; Approaches to Teaching the Works of D.H. Lawrence, edited by Elizabeth Sargent and Gary Watson, Modern Language Association of America (New York, NY), 2001. Contributor to periodicals, including D. H. Lawrence Review, Studies in Short Fiction, London Review, Speech and Drama, Critical Quarterly, Poetry Wales, Review of English Literature, Modern Drama, Critical Survey, Resurgence, and Journal of the D. H. Lawrence Society.

Also recorded The Poems of D. H. Lawrence, readings of forty poems with commentary, on two cassette tapes, Audio Learning, 1986.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Various articles for publication on the author's website.

SIDELIGHTS: Poet, biographer, and literary critic Keith Sagar has written extensively about the lives and works of British writers D. H. Lawrence and Ted Hughes. In The Life of D. H. Lawrence, Sagar combines a chronological narrative with numerous photographs, facsimiles of Lawrence's illustrated letters, and color reproductions of his art. Doris Grumbach in the New York Times Book Review praised Sagar's skill in synthesizing these varied materials, which also include excerpts from Lawrence's writings and from reviews of his work, from his letters and from those of his wife and friends. She found the book a "biography satisfying in every way: readable, informative, authoritative and set in an attractive format." In the Washington Post Book World, Harry Marten described The Life of D. H. Lawrence as "informative, rewarding in its brevity and pleasing in its clarity," while V. S. Pritchett, in the New York Review of Books, attributed to it "the merit of bringing out all facets of the man and letting them stand."

Los Angeles Times Book Review critic Jonathan Kirsch called D. H. Lawrence: Life into Art "a scholarly but thoroughly accessible study." He noted that this volume "adds a useful and illuminating dimension" to the published writings of Lawrence. John Gross, in an Observer (London, England) review, praised Sagar's "exploration of the often tortuous and subtle ways in which the art had its origins in the life." Glyn Hughes, writing in New Statesman, noted, "As a novelist, I find [this book] one of those rare works of literary biography or criticism which offers real help in my own craft, not merely for what it tells me about Lawrence, but for its instruction in the art." In a Times Literary Supplement review, Keith Brown called the book an "immensely impressive study," and commented that "it is clearly going to be there as long as formal studies survive."

Sagar was a friend and correspondent of poet Ted Hughes—collections of their letters reside in the British Library. Sagar's critical study of Hughes, The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes, is a "fine and sensitive book" that stands as "the first full study of Hughes's work to appear since the poet's death in the autumn of 1998," wrote Erica Wagner in the London Times.

The friendship between Hughes and Sagar "separates The Laughter of Foxes from ordinary criticism," Wagner said. "This is not a disinterested work." Indeed, Sagar writes in the book's preface that he believes Hughes to be "the greatest British writer of the second half of the twentieth century." Some readers might wish for a more objective critic, Wagner wrote. Indeed, Jeremy Noel-Tod, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, remarked that he believed the book's major disadvantage to be that Sagar "lacks the critical distance essential in any survey of this heroically inconsistent writer." However, to Wagner, "Sagar's strength is his ability to appreciate from the inside the mythic journey which Hughes was undertaking through his work."

Still, Noel-Tod commented, "In some ways, The Laughter of Foxes is a very useful book for readers of Ted Hughes," largely because in it, Sagar "undertakes the necessary labour of fitting to the poetry the paradigms worked out in Hughes's fascinating mythocritical prose from the 1990s (especially his study of Shakespeare), including Birthday Letters. It also provides an analysis of Hughes's working methods and reconstructs, as an appendix, the aborted epic narrative of which Crow gave us fragments." Sagar also explains "how the myth that was Crow became derailed" by the death of Hughes's partner and daughter.

The Laughter of Foxes "is proof that penetrating thought can be couched in lively and readable prose," Wagner wrote. Throughout the book, "Sagar's style is both scholarly and accessible; this is essential reading for anyone passionate—as Sagar is—about the work of Hughes."



Sagar, Keith, The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes, Liverpool University Press (Liverpool, England), 2000.


Cambridge Quarterly, March, 2001, Felicity Roslyn, "That Fox Again," review of The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes, p. 91.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May, 2001, W. J. Martz, review of The Laughter of Foxes, p. 1631.

Contemporary Literature, fall, 1999, Patrick Deane, "British Poetry since 1950: Recent Criticism, and the Laureateship," p. 491.

Journal of Modern Literature, spring, 1999, Solomon S. Sallfors, review of Ted Hughes: A Bibliography, 1946-1995, p. 514.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 12, 1986, p. 6.

New Statesman September 27, 1985.

New York Review of Books, May 29, 1980; January 16, 1986, p. 33.

New York Times, June 10, 1980.

New York Times Book Review, June 29, 1980, p. 15.

Observer (London, England), September 8, 1985.

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, March, 2000, Nick Gammage, review of Ted Hughes: A Bibliography, 1946-1995, p. 155.

Review of English Studies, November, 1995, Karen McLeod Hewitt, review of The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, Volume 7, p. 606.

Spectator, July 3, 1993.

Times (London, England), August 9, 2000, Erica Wagner, "A Mythic Mixture of Poetry and Prose," review of The Laughter of Foxes, p. 13; August 8, 2001, "Ted Hughes's Letters; Diary," p. 13.

Times Educational Supplement, September 13, 1985.

Times Literary Supplement, December 7, 1979, p. 91; August 21, 1981, p. 952; October 18, 1985, p. 1171; July 23, 1993; August 3, 2001, Jeremy Noel-Tod, review of The Laughter of Foxes, p. 29.

Washington Post Book World, June 1, 1980.


Keith Sagar Web site, (May 1, 2003).