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The Collected Poems of Montagu Slater

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Montagu Slater (1902–1956) is best-known today as the librettist of Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes (1945). But he was also a novelist, play wright, journalist, scriptwriter – and a poet. A committed communist from the late 1920s, he was a leading figure in the cultural world of the mid-century left, co-founded Left Review in the 1930s and edited Theatre Today in the 1940s. He worked with Britten, John Grierson, WH Auden and Alberto Cavalcanti at the GPO Film Unit, where he scripted the influential Coal Face (1935). His novels included Haunting Europe (1934) about the rise of Hitler, Once a Jolly Swagman (1944) about speedway racing (filmed starring Dirk Bogarde) and Englishmen with Swords (1949) about the English Civil War. His abiding anti-imperialism found expression in the play, Easter: 1916 (1936), and in his last book, The Trial of Jomo Kenyatta (1955). The Collected Poems of Montagu Slater includes the poems from Slater’s only published collection, Peter Grimes and other Poems (1946), alongside poetry originally published in periodicals and newspapers. It also brings into print previously unpublished poems from Slater’s papers at the University of Nottingham.

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