C. H. Sisson bigraphy, stories - Writer

C. H. Sisson : biography

22 April 1914 - 5 September 2003

Charles Hubert Sisson (also known as C. H. Sisson) CH (22 April 1914 – 5 September 2003) was a British writer, best known as a poet and translator.


Born in Bristol in 1914, C. H. Sisson was noted as a poet, novelist, essayist and an important translator. He was a great friend of the critic and writer Donald Davie, with whom he corresponded regularly.Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, 749. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007.

Sisson was a student at the University of Bristol where he read English and Philosophy. As a poet he first came to light through the London Arts Review, X,Michael Schmidt (founder of Carcanet Press, editor of Poetry Nation Review and Professor of Poetry at the University of Glasgow) writing in The Guardian in 2006 founded by the painter Patrick Swift and the poet David Wright. He reacted against the prevailing intellectual climate of the 1930s, particularly the Auden Group, preferring to go back to the anti-romantic T. E. Hulme, and to the Anglican tradition. The modernism of his poetry follows a 'distinct genealogy' from Hulme to Eliot, Pound, Ford Madox Ford and Wyndham Lewis.Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p754. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007. His novel Christopher Homm experiments with form and is told backwards.

Sisson served in the British Army during World War II in India and joined the Ministry of Labour in 1936. He worked as a civil servant and wrote a standard text The Spirit of British Administration (1959) arising from his work and a comparison with other European methods. Sisson was a 'severe critic of the Civil Service and some of his essays caused controversy'.Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p 750. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007. In his collection The London Zoo he writes this epitaph 'Here lies a civil servant. He was civil/ To everyone, and servant to the devil.'Schmidt, Michael: Lives of the Poets, p. Wiedenfeld and Nicolson, 2007.

Sisson was married, in 1937, to Nora Gilbertson (d. 2003) and they had two daughters. In 1993 C.H. Sisson was appointed a Companion of Honour for his services to Literature. He died on 5 September 2003.


Poetry collections

  • An Asiatic Romance(Carcanet Press, 1953. Paperback, 1995)
  • Poems (1959)
  • The Spirit of British Administration (1959)
  • The London Zoo (1961)
  • Numbers (1965), Methuen & Co Ltd
  • The Discarnation, or How the Flesh became Word and Dwelt Among Us (1967)
  • Metamorphoses, Poems, Methuen, London, 1968
  • Roman Poems (1968)
  • The Case of Walter Bagehot (1972)
  • In the Trojan Ditch: Collected Poems and Selected Translations (Carcanet Press, 1974)
  • The Corridor(1975), Poem, Mandeville Press, Hitchin (ISBN 0-904533-12-3 )
  • Anchises(1976) (ISBN 0-85635-178-4)
  • Moon-Rise and Other Poems (1979)
  • Exactions (1980),(ISBN 0-85635-332-9 )
  • Autobiographical and other papers of Philip Mairet (1981) editor
  • Modern Poets Five (Faber and Faber 1981) editor Jim Hunter, with Andrew Waterman, Craig Raine, Robert Wells, and Andrew Motion
  • Night Thoughts and Other Poems (1983)
  • Collected Poems 1943–1983 (Carcanet Press, 1984) (ISBN 0-85635-498-8)
  • God Bless Karl Marx! (Carcanet Press, 1987) (ISBN 0-85635-710-3)
  • On the Lookout: A Partial Autobiography (Carcanet Press, 1989)
  • Selected Poems (Carcanet Press, Paperback 1990)
  • Nine Sonnets (1991)
  • Re-active Anthology: Ghosts in the Corridor No. 2 (1992) with Andrew Crozier and Donald Davie
  • The Pattern (1993), C.H. Sisson, Enitharmon Press (ISBN 1-870612-68-X)
  • What and Who C. H. Sisson (Carcanet Press, 1994)
  • Poems: Selected (Carcanet Press, 1995)
  • Collected Poems (Carcanet Press, 1998)
  • Antidotes (Carcanet Press, 2001)
Living octopus

Living octopus

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