Patricia Beer Analysis

Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Aside from her poetry, Patricia Beer published two books of criticism, An Introduction to the Metaphysical Poets (1972) and Reader, I Married Him (1974), the latter being a study of the female characters in the works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Elizabeth Gaskell, and George Eliot. She also published a book of fiction, Moon’s Ottery (1978), and a nonfictional account of her childhood, Mrs. Beer’s House (1968). The latter provides insights into the poet’s development and serves as a gloss for much of her poetry, particularly that which is rooted in her childhood experiences. Although her publications reveal a variety of interests and a willingness to work in various literary forms, Beer’s most significant writing and the principal focus of her energies was her poetry.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Patricia Beer won few formal honors in her lifetime. In 1958, she won second prize in the Cheltenham Festival of Art and Literature for Loss of the Magyar, and Other Poems. She was also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Although she is not as widely known in the United States as some of her British contemporaries, she achieved a solid reputation in her native England as a deft craftsperson and a poet of genuine perception. Her accomplishments become even more significant when one considers how few of her fellow poets in the British Isles are women. Certainly, the poets with the widest reputations—Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, and Dannie Abse, to name only a few—are all men. In this context, Beer occupied a position of considerable importance.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Beer, Patricia. Mrs. Beer’s House. London: Macmillan, 1968. This is Beer’s autobiography, the main source of public information about her life. Easy to read and an essential source for any student of the poet.

Montefiore, Janet. “Autumn.” The Times Literary Supplement, October 9, 1998, p. 37. A critical review of Beer’s Autumn.

Mullen, John. “Obituary: Patricia Beer, Poet with a Wry Line on Dissenters and Devon.” The Guardian, August 19, 1999, p. 18. An obituary that describes Beer’s life and parentage, focusing on her themes of death and religion.

Ravo, Nick. “Patricia Beer, Seventy-nine, Poet Who Explored Religion.” The New York Times, August 23, 1999, p. 9. An obituary with brief biographical information.

Skelton, Robin. “Leaders and Others: Some New British Poetry.” Kenyon Review 30, no. 5 (1968): 689-696. Skelton reviews Beer’s volume Just Like the Resurrection and discusses it in comparison with the work of Ted Hughes and Thom Gunn, two other British poets who also published collections at that time. Interesting in that it offers a rare look at how Beer’s contemporaries perceived her at that point in her career.