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Ian Hamilton, editor, literary critic, biographer and poet, was born in Kings Lynn, Norfolk in 1938. He was educated at Darlington Grammar School and Keble College, Oxford. After leaving university, he formed the influential poetry magazine The Review in 1962, which ran for ten years. Its successor, the large format literary journal The New Review began monthly publication in 1974 and continued until 1979. In the course of its fifty issues it published many new writers -- notably Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, James Fenton, Clive James, Jim Crace.

Hamilton's first full-length book of poems, The Visit, was published in 1970 and was the Poetry Book Society's choice for that year. Fifty Poems was published in 1988 and Sixty Poems in 1998.

As a biographer, Hamilton was highly praised for his critical study of Robert Lowell published in 1983. He published In Search of J D Salinger after much controversy and legal wrangling in 1987.

Hamilton also published several important literary studies, including The Little Magazines: A Study of Six Editors (1976). Writers in Hollywood, 1915-51 (1990), and Keepers of the Flame: Literary Estates and the Rise of Biography (1992). Hamilton edited the influential Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry (1994) and the series Bloomsbury Classics comprising over 36 selections of English poets.

Over a career spanning more than forty years, Ian Hamilton wrote several hundred articles, reviews and essays and many of his literary journalistic pieces were collected into book form: A Poetry Chronicle (Criticism 1973), Walking Possession (prose essays, 1994), The Trouble with Money (prose essays, 1998).

Ian Hamilton died in 2001. His book of critical essays on twentieth century poets Against Oblivion was published posthumously by Penguin in 2002.

The Collected Poems, introduced by Alan Jenkins (Faber & Faber) will be published in 2009, and Bloomsbury will publish the backlist over the next few years.

In Search of J.D. Salinger

Book: (Faber and Faber, 2010)

Synopsis from the Publisher:

Faber and Faber is delighted to announce the reissue of the major biography of J.D Salinger by Ian Hamilton, to be published on its Faber Finds list. Originally published to critical acclaim in 1988, In Search of J. D. Salinger has been brought to the Faber list by Faber Finds editor John Seaton, who commented:

'Salinger was without doubt one of the great American writers. Interest in him has always been strong, paradoxical, if you like, given his obsession with privacy. His sad death can only make this interest more acute. Although In Search of Salinger is not the book Ian Hamilton intended to write (his original text was blocked by Salinger in the US Supreme court) its convoluted and fraught gestation is now part of the Salinger myth. This book was a rare enterprise and remains an exceptionally good biographical and literary portrait of this most elusive of writing geniuses.'

The book is priced £12.00, and there is an e-book available, priced £7.99

For further information please contact Rebecca Pearson on 020 7927 3886 or email rebecca.pearson@faber.co.uk

Purchase from Faber & Faber.

Collected Poems

Book: (Faber and Faber, 2009)
Edited with an introduction by Alan Jenkins

Collected Poems by Ian Hamilton, edited by Alan Jenkins
Visit The Collected Poems of Ian Hamilton on Facebook

Synopsis from the Publisher:

A professional man of letters -- critic, editor, biographer -- though never a professional poet, Ian Hamilton (1938-2001) referred to his poems as 'miraculous lyrical arrivals', and he bided their time with exemplary patience and humility. His widely praised first collection, The Visit, published by Faber in 1970, was incorporated into Fifty Poems in 1988, itself expanded to Sixty Poems in 1998. In a preface to the former collection, he wrote: 'Fifty poems in twenty-five years: not much to show for half a lifetime, you might think. And in certain moods, I would agree.' Readers of Hamilton's condensed and immaculate oeuvre have felt otherwise: the poems of his youth and middle years (there was to be no opportunity for a late flowering) acquired talismanic significance for his contemporaries, and their combination of terseness and emotional intensity continues to set an example to younger poets. Edited by Alan Jenkins, this authoritative Collected Poems contains all of the poetry that Ian Hamilton chose to publish, together with a small number of uncollected and unpublished poems; it also supplies an illuminating introduction, and succinctly helpful apparatus. The result is an edition whose thoroughness and tact are themselves a moving tribute, restoring to view one of the most disinctive bodies of work in twentieth-century English poetry.

Purchase from Faber & Faber.

Three previously unpublished poems and an essay by Alan Jenkins on Hamilton's work were published in the Times Literary Supplement, no. 5533, 17 April 2009: 22. The poems are titled "The Veteran", "Work In Progress", and "Ties".


Noel-Tod, Jeremy. 'Odes to Darkness and Light'. Daily Telegraph (30 May 2009): 22 [Reviewed with John Updike's Endpoint].

Reid, Christopher. 'You and Ian Hamilton'. Times Literary Supplement (5 June 2009): 11.

Morrison, Blake. 'Who Turned the Page?'. The Guardian (20 June 2009).

Last update: 9 June 2012
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