Scannell, Vernon 1922-2007 (John Vernon Scannel)

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Scannell, Vernon 1922-2007 (John Vernon Scannel)


See index for SATA sketch: Born January 23, 1922, in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, England; died November 16, 2007. Poet, novelist, critic, children's author, and memoirist. Scannell spent much of his life haunted by images of war. Memories of the horrors he witnessed during World War II reportedly inspired him to desert the British Army twice, once in Tunisia (for which he was imprisoned) and again after his experiences in Normandy (for which he was briefly remanded to a mental hospital). His wartime experiences also inspired some of his best poetry, including "Walking Wounded," which some critics regard as one of the most impressive poems to emerge from that war. Scannell was a prolific poet, publishing thirty or more collections in his long life, many of them for children. He wrote steadfastly into his eighties, almost to the moment of his death. Scannell's poems have been described as more anecdotal than abstract, and critics have commended his straightforward language and clarity of purpose. Not all of his writing concerned war and other melancholy themes. He also commented on love, marriage, fatherhood, aging, and the commonplace events of daily living, but some critics noted that elements of doubt or gloom often appear, at least fleetingly, even in these poems. Scannell worked primarily as a poet, with occasional forays into broadcasting and criticism. Not surprisingly, it was his poetry that earned him the greatest recognition, including a Heinemann Award in 1960 from the Royal Society of Literature for The Masks of Love, and the prestigious Cholmondeley Poetry Prize in 1974 from the British Society of Authors for The Winter Man: New Poems. One of his last published collections was Of Love and War: New and Selected Poems (2002). In addition to three volumes of memoirs, Scannell also wrote the reportedly autobiographical novels Ring of Truth (1983) and Argument of Kings (1987).



Contemporary Poets, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.

Scannell, Vernon, The Tiger and the Rose: An Autobiography, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1971.

Scannell, Vernon, A Proper Gentleman, Robson Books (London, England), 1977.

Scannell, Vernon, Drums of Morning: Growing up in the Thirties, Robson Books (London, England), 1992.

St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Times (London, England), November 20, 2007, p. 65.