Al Alvarez : biography
Al Alvarez (born 5 August 1929) is an English poet, novelist, essayist and critic who publishes under the name A. Alvarez and Al Alvarez.
Alfred Alvarez was born in London. He was educated at Oundle School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he took a First in English. After teaching briefly in Oxford and the USA, he became a fulltime writer in his late twenties. From 1956 to 1966, he was the poetry editor and critic for The Observer, where he introduced British readers to John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Zbigniew Herbert, and Miroslav Holub.
Alvarez is the author of many non-fiction books. He is best known for his study of suicide, The Savage God, which gained added resonance from his friendship with Plath. He has also written on divorce (Life After Marriage), dreams (Night), and the oil industry (Offshore), as well as his hobbies of poker (The Biggest Game In Town) and mountaineering (Feeding the Rat, a profile of his frequent climbing partner Mo Anthoine). His 1999 autobiography is entitled Where Did It All Go Right?
His 1962 poetry anthology The New Poetry was hailed at the time as a fresh departure. It championed the American style, in relation to the perceived excessive ‘gentility’ of British poetry of the time. In 2010 he was awarded the A.C.Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature.
Alvarez was portrayed by Jared Harris in the 2003 film Sylvia, which chronicles the troubled relationship between Plath and her husband Ted Hughes.