While Australia has yet to produce a poet with a lasting influence on world literature, A. D. Hope has perhaps come closest to attaining an international reputation. Since the publication of his first collection in 1955, he emerged as the dominant figure in Australian poetry.
Hope stands outside the mainstream of much modern poetry in his strict formalism and outspoken disdain for much of the poetry and critical theories of his contemporaries, or what he called in The New Cratylus: Notes on the Craft of Poetry (1979) “Heresies of the Age.” In his carefully balanced wit and in the lucidity of his use of such neoclassical forms as the heroic couplet, he seemed much closer in his attitudes and manner to Alexander Pope than to T. S. Eliot. While early compared to W. H. Auden in his sometimes scathing denunciations of twentieth century life, Hope possessed a distinctive voice with a wide range; his satirical poems have been no less admired than his passionate love poetry. In all his work, the notion of poetry as a learned craft is preeminent. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he remained content to express his vision in the traditional patterns of accentual-syllabic meter and rhyme.
Hope’s first collection was published when he was nearly fifty; thereafter, his reputation grew rapidly. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Grace Leven Prize (1956), the Arts Council of Great Britain Award for Poetry (1965), the Britannica Award for Literature (1965), the Myer Award for Australian Literature (1967), the Ingram Merrill Award for Literature (1969), the Levinson Prize (1969), the The Age Book of the Year Award (1976) for A Late Picking, the Robert Frost Prize (now the Christopher Brennan Award) from the Fellowship of Australian Writers (1976), a New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award Special Award (1989), and an ACT Book of the Year Award (1993) for Chance Encounters. He was elected Ashby Visiting Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and honorary fellow of University College, Oxford. In 1972, he was named Officer, Order of the British Empire, and Companion of the Order of Australia in 1981. He traveled and lectured extensively, especially in the United States.